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Broadband Boost For Scottish Business 16 September 03
£1.5 million Business Broadband Incentive Fund To Encourage Up To 5000 Companies

Scottish businesses are being encouraged to get connected to broadband with a new incentive scheme.

Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Jim Wallace announced the new £1.5 million Business Broadband Incentive fund to encourage up to 5000 new companies to take advantage of the business benefits broadband offers.

Mr Wallace also announced that new independent research to be published later this week will back the Executive’s strategy of increasing broadband take–up through measures to stimulate demand.

Speaking at an e-Business Week event in Dunfermline Mr Wallace said - “The Executive believes that broadband can be a key tool for economic growth across Scotland. Improving digital connectivity and increasing demand for broadband access is vitally important.and a key priority for the Executive.

“The faster internet access broadband offers increases business efficiency, enables greater exploitation of e-business opportunities, and improves competitive performance,”

"This new incentive fund I am launching today will enable businesses across Scotland to receive £300 or £1200 to offset the cost of taking on a broadband connection.

“The initiative has already been piloted in the northeast and so far more than 600 applications have been received which is very encouraging. And I’m delighted to announce its rollout around the rest of the country.”

“I am in no doubt that the approach we are taking is the correct one. Earlier this year, we commissioned independent research to be carried out on broadband in Scotland. We wanted to know how Scotland will fare without intervention and how we could fare with suitable intervention, over the next two years.

“I can tell you today that the findings will be published later this week and that the research recommended the most effective action the Executive should take to address the current and forecast market failures are demand-stimulation measures. This confirms that our approach for the £24m initiative will create success for Scotland.”

The scheme is being managed by Scottish Enterprise and offers small and medium sized companies (SMEs) access to funding to gain broadband connections and business advice on how broadband can improve their performance.

Two levels of support are available. A £300 incentive is available for businesses who want to get a basic ADSL connection or equivalent connection via cable or power line technology. £1,200 is available to businesses that need a more complex satellite or other tailored broadband connection.

The enterprise network’s local e-Business advisers will ensure eligible SMEs gain the broadband connections to best suit their needs and use them to maximum effect.

e-Business Week has over 150 events on around the country to encourage companies to explore how they can best use e-business applications.

The Minister added: “Latest figures show from the Scottish E-Business Survey show that companies are beginning to understand the benefits e-business applications can have.

“It shows that more than 75% of companies now look on the web when searching for a supplier. Companies who don’t have an internet presence will increasingly become invisible.”

E-business applications are becoming increasingly sophisticated and options for securing new customers and retaining existing ones breaking into new markets and finding out more about customers have never been greater.”

Businesses in the Scottish enterprise area can access information and check their eligibility for the scheme via the www.scottish-enterprise.com/broadband website or by calling 0845 644 2604.