£2.6m Digital Innovation Grant scheme opens to new applicants

A new grant funding scheme is set to provide up to £2.6m to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across South Yorkshire embrace digital technology.

Applications for the first round of new Digital Innovation Grants will open on 30th July. Up to 50 SMEs are set to benefit from the first round of grants, which will provide match funding for a wide range of ICT projects to help businesses overcome barriers to growth by harnessing innovative digital technologies.

The Digital Innovation Grant will fund up to 50% of projects with costs totalling £2,000-£10,000 and can be used for a wide range of business applications that will enable SMEs to embrace new ways of working and entertain new markets; from ecommerce websites, to VoIP telephone systems, to cloud-based remote working solutions.

Unlike discretionary funding provided by Government during the Covid-19 pandemic, Digital Innovation Grants will be delivered through a competitive process, with applications judged on merit rather than on a first come, first served basis.

The Digital Innovation Grant is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and will be delivered on behalf of the Sheffield City Region by Enterprising Barnsley, part of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Grants will be worth £1,000-£5,000 (50% of a project’s total cost), and the deadline for the first round of applications is 27th August 2021, with further rounds of funding to be announced later this year.

Full application guidance and examples of eligible projects can be found on the scheme’s website: https://www.enterprisingbarnsley.co.uk/digital-innovation-grants/

Anna Smith, Senior Programme Manager, Enterprising Barnsley, said: “Digital technology can often be a catalyst to drive positive change and stimulate significant growth in smaller businesses. The Digital Innovation Grant is a new, exciting project which aims to help businesses throughout the Sheffield City Region to harness new ways of working and contribute towards future growth.

“There are no hard and fast rules as to how the Digital Innovation Grant can be used by beneficiaries. For some it will provide the funding to help them invest in software solutions to help manage their customers more effectively. For others it will provide a catalyst to embrace new ways or working and even develop bespoke software and apps which will help them to break into new and emerging markets.

“The Digital Innovation Grant will be delivered through a number of different rounds of applications. All applications will be judged on merit and I would urge any business owner interested in applying for the grant scheme to read the application guidance carefully.

"We anticipate that the first phase of the programme will see up to 50 businesses from across the Sheffield City Region benefit, with further application rounds set to take place throughout 2021 and 2022.”

The Digital Innovation Grant will operate until November 2022, with future application rounds set to take place in November 2021, February 2022, May 2022, August 2022 and November 2022, subject to available funding.

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