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Funding pledge

Forbes offers SMEs £11.8 million digital boost

Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes: ‘immediate boost’ (pic: Terry Murden)

A further £11.8 million is being made available to help businesses take advantage of digital technologies.

It comprises £10m for financial incentives and advice and £800,000 to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to extend its Digital Enablement Grant scheme.

The Data Lab will also receive £1m to help businesses to invest in more advanced technologies such as data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Announcing the additional funding at the SNP conference, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said it would help an estimated 2,000 SMEs reap the benefits of investment in digital.

“This will build on the work already done through our successful Digital Boost scheme,” she said.

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The funding to HIE would recognised that it is businesses in rural areas that have the most to gain by access to new technology.

In a statement later, she said the firms that have coped best during the pandemic are invariably those that have been able to adapt with the help of digital tools.

“However, despite the digital transition made by many businesses, there is still far more that can be done to help businesses embrace the opportunities that digital offers.

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“We also know that huge potential lies in the information and data that business hold and that’s why we’re also supporting businesses on their data journey.

“This funding will provide an immediate boost and will support businesses to adopt productivity enhancing digital technologies. It will also help to improve their digital capability and the skills of their workforce so they can keep pace with future technological progress.

“Supporting SMEs on their digital journey is key to Scotland’s economic recovery and future prosperity.”

David Oxley, director of business growth at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “Digital technology can revolutionise how organisations function, transforming performance by helping them become more productive, efficient and competitive.

“That’s become even more important during the pandemic, with businesses and their customers increasingly recognising the benefits of trading online.

“These grants will also help organisations recover and diversify by investing in digital technologies.

“The money will make a real difference and will support companies that have the potential to retain and create jobs in all parts of the Highlands and Islands.”



 



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