Date: 12th December 2017
Digital Enterprise has recently launched a new Voucher product – a Connectivity Voucher.
The Voucher is a grant of £1000 to help eligible SMEs (Small to Medium Sized Enterprises) cover the initial cost of upgrading their digital /broadband connectivity. No match funding is required from businesses who are eligible for a Connectivity Voucher.
Muz Mumtaz, Programme Manager of Digital Enterprise said: Many small firms that wish to grow and achieve digital transformation are limited by the quality of their digital connection, including limited bandwidth (up and downstream), high levels of contention with some technologies (FTTC) or the cost of upgrading to a dedicated connection (ISDN or excess construction charges etc.) due to their location. Hence the Connectivity Voucher is being introduced to address some of the barriers mentioned above to help small firms acquire business grade connectivity, to scale up and achieve digital maturity.’
The Connectivity Voucher is intended to help firms upgrade to high speed business grade broadband, which includes;
- Download speeds in excess of 30 mgbs (or if the current download speed is above 30 mgbs, then a new higher speed connection, which doubles the broadband speed).
- Higher upload speeds.
- Low or no contention levels.
Vouchers can be used for a range of costs associated with upgrading a digital connection, including;
- The actual cost of the installation i.e. the cost of the physical connection, including excess construction costs to reach a network.
- Hardware related to facilitating the connection e.g. a firewall, router, receiver/antennae (for wireless connections).
- Virtual servers & software licences (subject to limitation of upfront costs only)
- Consultancy/project management cost to install a connection – capped at 25% of the value (£250) of a voucher.
The typical types of technology that a Connectivity Voucher can be used for include;
- Fibre to the premise, including dark fibre connections
- Fast wireless, including Mesh, point to point/line of sight and WIMAX solutions.
- Ethernet point-to-point (p2p)
However, alternative digital connectivity technologies will be considered where it is demonstrated that the cost and quality are comparable to those mentioned above.
Is your business eligible?
Firms that wish to apply for a Connectivity Voucher will need to be eligible for ERDF Funding i.e. SMEs (under 250 employees, turnover under 50 million Euros and a balance sheet under 43 million Euros), based in the Leeds city region and with predominantly Business to business activity (+90%). Also, the value of investment projects under this scheme should be at least £1000, to be eligible.
We are particularly keen to encourage businesses with the following profile to apply;
- Smaller firms (with 1-10 employees)
- Businesses which can demonstrate a clear aspiration to achieve digital transformation i.e. firms which are aiming to deploy cloud based solutions
- Firms involved in high levels of data transfer, with a clear business requirement for high upload and download transfer speeds, with little or no contention limitations.
- Applicants not involved in other aspects of the Digital Enterprise Programme.