£8.5m digital support programme launches for Leeds SMEs

The £8.5m Digital Enterprise Programme is launching today to support digital businesses in the Leeds City Region to grow.Up to £5,000 per business is available to invest in new technologies or advance their digital skills. It can also be used to upgrade websites, enhance digital connections or acquire new hard or software.

This support is available to business through the LEP’s growth service.

The programme is part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014 – 2020 and will be managed by Leeds City Council.

Roger Marsh OBE, chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “Possessing intel on the latest digital technologies and skills is not only relevant to those working within the digital sector, but fast becoming essential to any businesses looking to target new customers and improve their productivity by becoming more efficient.

“This exciting product adds to the growing amount of business support available via the LEP business growth service, a single point of contact for tailored business support. It will help SMEs in all our key sectors become more digitally savvy in their day to day activities. With grant funding also available to invest in new software and website upgrades, businesses will be supported to de-risk investments that can have a great impact on their bottom line.”

Cllr James Lewis, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council added: “A recent IPPR North report into the role of SMEs in building a digital powerhouse highlights that small businesses often see investment in new digital technology as risky because of the costs and time involved, particularly as many small businesses are likely to be extremely time poor. This new business support aims to take away some of that risk and help save time. With financial support available and a hands on approach from our digital advisers businesses will be supported to find the right support to help them grow.”

Businesses in the region have expressed a demand for this type of business support and this informed the bid for European Funding to establish the programme.

Mark Ambler, managing director of Blue Logic Computers, based in Leeds, said: “The Digital Enterprise Programme offers a real incentive for small businesses to upgrade their digital and ICT capabilities supported by a voucher. Many businesses may have been considering investing in a range of digital solutions to help them grow and create jobs and so the launch of the Digital Enterprise scheme offers them that push to get on and do it.
The Strategic Economic Plan for Leeds City Region sets an ambition for an additional 15,000 digital jobs to be created by 2025.

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