A new £7 million funding package to help businesses across Scotland to participate in the Digital Economy has been announced by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland will make the Scottish Government funding available to businesses in the region through a range of initiatives. It will be used to help companies adopt and make better use of digital technologies, with the ultimate aim of making them more competitive.
Theresa Swayne, Senior Digital Development Manager for Digital at HIE, said: “The roll out of Next Generation Broadband (NGB) across the Highlands and Islands is transformational, it will open up new opportunities for businesses in rural areas to reach new markets, trade internationally and develop new ways of working.
“We are committed to supporting people to make the most of the internet access we have now and to prepare for the new capabilities NGB will bring.
“We are already running a range of initiatives which communities and businesses can get involved in now. We work with Citizens Online to help people in our communities go online through the ‘Get IT Together’ project. Our IT Business and Community support programme, in partnership with Business Gateway, offers advice and guidance on a wide range of IT topics. We are also working with e-Skills UK to develop future IT talent and we support research and development in digital technology.”
“This additional funding means we can build on each of these activities and expand into new areas to assist our businesses to become even more competitive in the global marketplace.”
Speaking after announcing the new funding at the Digital Scotland 2013 Conference and Expo at Heriot Watt University, Ms Sturgeon said:
“It is vital that businesses across Scotland have access to the latest cutting edge technologies to enable them to thrive and compete internationally.
“Our ability to exploit these new opportunities is central to positioning Scotland as a world leading digital nation within a global digital economy.
“This funding package will provide much needed support to enable Scottish businesses to compete in a global digital world.
“Already, Scotland has world class strengths in areas like renewables and life sciences, and I want our digital industry to be a similar driving force for this country. But we also need to do more to ensure that our computing skills continue to lead the world, that we continue to innovate and that digital businesses of all sizes are encouraged to develop in our country.
“Investment in our digital economy will boost jobs, transform our businesses, raise productivity and open up new markets to attract inward investment.
“It will also change the way that we live – from the way we book holidays to the way we access health care. We are committed to ensuring that all of Scotland is able to reap the social and cultural benefits of the internet.