Digital Growth Vouchers
Our Digital Growth Vouchers offer eligible firms help to fund their digital/IT investment.
Digital Growth Vouchers are for small to medium sized businesses that are looking to grow.
Project proposals must demonstrate genuine digital transformation for the business, leading to improvements in business performance, increased productivity and innovation.
Phase 2 of the Voucher scheme will be a competitive process, where proposals are compared to each other to determine those that offer the biggest potential for business growth and digital maturity, with funding available for up to 200 vouchers.
The scheme reopens on the 28th of September and will close on the 8th of December.
Businesses receiving a Digital Growth Voucher will not be able to apply for any other part of the programme (Connectivity Vouchers or participation in the Digital Knowledge Exchange).
Example: A manufacturing business in Huddersfield is aiming to grow and achieve digital transformation by selling its products online through the commissioning of a new e-commerce website. All products made by firm will be available for customers to purchase.
The website has a total cost of £10,000 (excluding VAT) – which includes costs relating to its design, development and integration.The firm can apply for a Digital Growth voucher worth £5000 (50% of the total value of the project) and is able to fund the balance of £5000 (50%).Also, the business owner expects to see employment growth of 10% and turnover to increase by 20% over the next two years, as a result of this investment.
Eligible Investment projects for a Voucher
Digital growth vouchers are intended for the acquisition of I.T hardware, software purchases or upgrades to digital connectivity. Funding can only be used for the purchasing of equipment or software and not for the on-going revenue costs of leasing them.
When applying for a Voucher it is imperative that applicants describe the purpose for which the acquired asset or investment will be used and how it will benefit business performance, sine our funding is there to help to achieve ‘Additionality’ i.e. to add value. It cannot be used to merely replace old equipment or infrastructure, where no value is added to a firm’s performance, capability or capacity. Therefore, voucher applications which do not demonstrate how the investment will generate any economic growth or impact for the business will be rejected.
Examples of eligible hard ware/software solutions for a Voucher
- New laptops, desk tops or tablet computers, VOIP telephony or networking devices e.g. routers and servers etc.
- Enhanced digital connectivity – particularly when this leads to download speeds exceeding 30 mbps. However, the grant will only be able to cover the cost of the installation not any on-going revenue costs.
- The acquisition of new software to manage the business including a CRM or ERP. The grant can cover integration and consultancy costs too but this is capped at 40% of the total project cost.
Application process – Key stages
Applicant businesses that meet the criteria in the Eligibility Checklist should apply for a Voucher using our online application form.
Businesses are required to complete all sections of the application form, with particular consideration to the impact of the funding/investment upon their business growth and development. Proposals with poor or insufficient economic return (in terms of job creation or business expansion) relative to the value of the Voucher are unlikely to be successful.
Eligibility verification and due diligence
Submitted applications will be checked for eligibility using a variety of sources, including;
- Companies House records
- VAT number – Customs & Excise
- Business rates registration – Local Authority
- Business identity evidence – web and credit reference checks.
We may also ask for supporting documentation to confirm aspects of eligibility, including latest company accounts, a P&L statement or proof of location etc.
Site visit and needs analysis
Once we have confirmed eligibility, we will arrange to visit the applicant, ideally at their business location, to discuss the proposal further, including to review their growth aspirations and digital technology solutions and options.
It is important for us to demonstrate that we are maximising the return on investment for the public money which is being used to finance the Digital Enterprise programme, hence all Voucher applications will be reviewed and appraised by the Programme Management team. We will endeavour to make this as efficient and streamlined as possible, with the team reviewing applications soon after they are submitted. We are keen to ensure that this process is efficient so that we can get a response to applicants as soon as possible (normally within 14 days).
Funding Agreement with Digital Enterprise
Successful Voucher applicants will be sent a Funding Agreement with Digital Enterprise – this is a legal document which outlines the scope and objectives of the investment project and the obligations of the applicant. This will include conditions/stipulations with regards to;-
- Purchase evidence and original documentation retention.
- Provision of impact data relating to the investment (collected after 12 months).
Applicants are encouraged to acquire 3 quotes for each technology solution in their project.
A digital marketing company in York is seeking a Voucher to help fund an investment project which includes the acquisition of some new hardware and also the upgrading of its broadband connection.
The applicant would need to obtain 3 quotes for the hardware they wish to purchase and 3 quotes from broadband suppliers.
Hence, bundled projects can take longer to complete, as they are more complicated and involve more suppliers/quotes.
Once applicants have signed the Funding Agreement, they will be encouraged to procure their investment and obtain the necessary evidence.
After applicants have paid their chosen supplier the full amount for their agreed investment they will need to provide us with certified copies of the evidence i.e. receipts from their supplier and a bank statement showing the expenditure (retaining all original documentation as agreed in the Voucher Agreement).
The Digital Enterprise team will then validate all the documentary evidence and issue payment to the value of the Voucher by an agreed payment method (electronic BACs payment or cheque).
Please note that any assets purchased with Voucher funding, in excess of £5000, will need to be recorded on an Asset Register – maintained by Digital Enterprise. Information about the asset, including its value, serial number etc. will be recorded by a member of the Digital Enterprise team.
After 12 months, from the issue of the payment, we will contact the business to request details of the impact/outputs resulting from the investment project.
Please note …
The estimated time from submitting an application to issuing a Voucher will depend upon several factors, including the applicant’s ability to collect the evidence required and their supplier’s ability to deliver the solution. Nevertheless, average voucher processing timescales are likely to be around 4-6 weeks.
Our team of Digital Growth Advisers will be available to help applicants along complete each stage of the process of obtaining a Voucher. Once we have confirmed that a business is eligible for a Voucher and their investment project meets our requirements an Adviser will be allocated to them.