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The Government's SME broadband voucher scheme, good for business, good for innovation
One of the key attributes of an agile innovation culture is the ability to collaborate; not just internally but with suppliers, customers and other key stakeholders. But collaboration is only possible if connectivity is optimised, whether that be on the telephone, via the internet or in face-to-face meetings.
For SMEs which have been struggling with a relatively slow broadband connection, the spirit to collaborate more may be there, but having the finance to improve broadband speed is another matter. In a bid to improve the ability of SMEs to communicate over the internet, the government offers broadband improvement grants of up to £3000 to SME businesses in 50 locations across the UK.
To date 40,000 businesses have benefited from the scheme. Whilst 11,664 of these were based in London, 6344 N. West businesses and 5734 Yorks and Humber businesses have also taken advantage of the scheme. The government has put £40 million in the pot for 2015/16 with vouchers being offered on a first-come first-served basis. With no ring fencing this means that SME businesses in Plymouth or in Perth, in Swansea or in Southend-on-Sea have an equal chance of being successful.
The more that businesses take up the scheme, the greater the chance that innovative collaboration will continue to grow and to drive the powerhouse of the UK which is the SME sector. As the recent government announcement says these grants are “part of the government’s transformation of the UK’s digital landscape, helping cities to create and attract new jobs and investment, and making the UK the best place in the world to do business.”