Local businesses are being invited to take up an exciting new opportunity to increase broadband speeds and significantly boost performance levels thanks to a new government grant scheme being launched in the city.
The Derry Connection Voucher Scheme opens on Monday, March 31, with a special event taking place in the City Hotel, and local business are invited to come along and find out how they can benefit. The scheme offers grants of up to £3,000 to small and medium sized enterprises and third sector organisations keen to increase their broadband capabilities, and vouchers are allocated on a first come first served basis.
Derry is one of only 22 cities throughout the UK to benefit from the scheme which is part of the SuperConnected Cities Programme, funded by Derry City Council and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Urban Broadband Fund.
On Monday morning business owners can find out how the scheme is already helping businesses in Belfast, and hear from telecommunications expert Sinclair Stockman who will be outlining the many direct benefits of increasing broadband speeds.
SuperConnected Derry will provide the city with the digital infrastructure to make it a world-class digital city, offering ultrafast broadband speeds. The initiative will allow local businesses access to high-grade broadband and wireless connectivity and targets companies whose performance may be directly impacted by inadequate broadband services.
The vouchers can be accessed 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 new Voucher Scheme will assist companies keen to improve efficiency and considerably enhance services, according to Head of Economic Development with Derry City Council, Linda Williams.
“We are absolutely delighted to have been included among the small number of cities selected to be part of this programme,” she declared. “Access to high speed broadband will open up opportunities within local and international markets, improve communications, increase data storage and reduce costs for local companies.
“Today broadband technology reinforces our economy as a whole, and as a city this move will impact directly on our local economy by promoting efficiency, opportunity and growth, making us more viable in a global market.
“We want Derry-Londonderry to become a world-class digital city to the benefit of our businesses, residents, visitors, students and investors. I would really urge all small and medium businesses in the Derry City Council area to consider boosting their performance by connecting to ultrafast broadband at minimal cost through this exciting new scheme.”
The grants are part of a £150million investment by the UK government’s Department of Culture Media and Sport geared towards placing the UK at the forefront of digital communications in Europe. £2.2million has been made available through the fund for Derry-Londonderry to boost its digital capabilities and promote the region as an area worthy of foreign direct investment.
Speaking ahead of the launch Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said the grant offered the opportunity for businesses to make significant savings.
“We are witnessing a transformation of broadband in the UK which will be instrumental in driving our economic growth,” he said.
“These vouchers will save businesses in Derry thousands of pounds, as well as generating thousands more, and I strongly urge Derry businesses to make the most of this offer to ensure they are properly equipped to compete in today’s digital age.”
Following on from the Derry Connection Voucher Scheme, will be the launch of the Metro Wireless City initiative which will improve general access to Wi-Fi services in public spaces throughout the city. It will involve developing the city’s Wi-Fi infrastructure in high footfall areas, improving services for the general public.
A number of public buildings within the city centre will also be included in a new Wi-Fi improvement scheme which will mean connectivity is available in virtually every public facility in the city centre.
Registration for Monday’s event opens at 9.45am, and all local small to medium enterprises and third sector organisations are invited to come along and find out more about the Voucher Scheme.
For more information on the SuperConnected Cities Programme and whether your business is eligible for the Derry Connection Voucher Scheme go to www.derrycity.gov.uk/superconnected to see the terms and conditions in full.