The Derry Connection Voucher Scheme was launched by Derry City Council on Monday, where local companies heard from telecommunications expert Sinclair Stockman about how high speed broadband will revolutionise their business.
The scheme is part of the SuperConnected Derry programme which is being funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to the tune of £2.2million through the Urban Broadband Fund. The initiative aims to place Derry at the forefront of digital technology, as Mr Stockman explained ahead of the event.
“The main benefit of the scheme is that it offers small businesses a high quality, high speed connection on a global digital platform,” he said. “It allows businesses to interact with customers globally and locally, and means they have the ability to become part of a global value chain.
“This ability to extend market reach is invaluable, it’s like gold dust to companies because it places them on the best platform in the world to do business and it’s a powerful enabler. It will transform the capabilities of any enterprise, from IT to retail.
“Derry already boasts one of the best infrastructures thanks to Project Kelvin, and now with access to ultrafast broadband – it doesn’t get better than that! I would really encourage any company to sign up for the voucher scheme, and gain access to a new global market.”
Louise Breslin, Programme Manager of Derry City Council’s Business Opportunities Programme said: “It’s not an onerous application process and the benefits are huge. We’re also keen to see businesses not connected to the technology industry apply, as faster broadband speed can help with marketing, selling products and services, as well as increased flexible working.
“Through the scheme, vouchers can be accessed on a first come first served basis by any SME business or voluntary sector organisation within the Derry City Council area and will cover initial connectivity and installation costs, to the maximum value of £3000, and a minimum of £250. Businesses only have to cover the cost of VAT and any additional installation costs.
“The scheme will also be followed up by the launch of the Metro City initiative which will improve access to Wi-Fi services in public spaces throughout the city. This will be completed by the end of March 2015 and will hopefully include business areas in the Waterside.”
The initiative also has marketing support from Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund.