Broadband is critically important to all our businesses. Superfast broadband speeds allow businesses access to leading edge software and applications that could benefit Leicestershire businesses. For example, broadband can allow businesses to grow by becoming more innovative. It can support learning and development and create opportunities that would not have developed otherwise. Superfast broadband allows businesses to work more efficiently, be more flexible, and expand your offerings by connecting with businesses all over the world.
Leicestershire County Council worked in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Ebusiness Club to provide a programme suited to Leicestershire’s business needs.
Throughout the programme, there were a number of free business support workshops and services that Leicestershire’s businesses benefitted from. Digital events and demonstrations were held around Leicestershire, highlighting the benefits of using broadband based technologies.
The European Development Fund (ERDF) business support programme ended at the end of January 2016. 141 businesses received direct help and support as part of the programme and more that 400 businesses engaged with the programme.
The first event of the programme was delivered on 28 January 2014 at the Leicester Marriot Hotel. The Leicestershire Digital Supplier Forum, who led the event, hoped to establish and plan further business support opportunities through the ERDF and East Midlands Chamber partnership.
The day proved to be largely successful with a number of businesses networking and exchanging knowledge. Moreover, a suggested programme of events with varied content and setups was finalised.
The programme included business breakfasts, workshops and day courses with a range of professionals in the digital field. One of the highlights of the programme was the Superfast Leicestershire Digital Conference and Expo which took place in November 2015.
The event, which took place at Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road Stadium, was organised by the East Midlands Chamber’s eBusiness Club, in partnership with Leicestershire County Council and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).
The conference was opened by the lead for rural broadband, Cllr. Blake Pain and included a keynote speech from multi-award winning digital marketing guru Geoff Ramm. Microsoft’s Amy Nicholson and Elena Branet also delivered a presentation about the Internet of Things and UKTI’s Regional Director for the East Midlands, Ian Harrison, spoke about the Government’s new e-Exporting initiative.
The conference, which was part of the Leicester Business Festival, attracted over 500 business leaders and 60 of the regions leading technology and ICT providers.
Throughout the programme a number of businesses were supported to expand digitally and more than 13 full-time employment posts were created. The report shows that businesses that took part in the programme grew their workforce and managed to increase their gross value average.
The original target for the programme was to provide 60 SMEs with consultancy support through events, workshops, demonstrations and 1-2-1 support to help them to exploit digital technologies more effectively. Around half way through the project this target was surpassed, with 90 SMEs already supported. The revised target was therefore set at 140 SMEs (80 more than the original target and 50 more than the number already reached).
The final evaluation report on the programme shows the objectives against the outcomes and also the overall economic impact on the buisnesses as well as the prospective growth in the Leicestershire business workforce.