The Superfast Broadband Fund is backed by Creative England’s Regional Growth Fund and managed by Creative England in partnership with both Lincolnshire County Council and Onlincolnshire. The fund aims to improve cross sector collaboration and innovations and develop new digital solutions for rural areas utilising the Superfast Broadband infrastructure. Your company does not need to be based in Lincolnshire to be eligible for the fund and it is open to entries from the North, Midlands and South West regions.
The majority of businesses now rely on technology in order to grow, whether it's to train staff, advertise accommodation, buy and sell goods or provide information for customers. It could be argued that the ease of connecting to the internet in urban areas compared with rural areas has led to urban advancements of digital applications being more effective. Urban businesses are continually growing their digital presence, however it has been identified that there is a need for digital solutions to be developed for rural communities and the business issues they face. This is where our Superfast Broadband Fund can help.
Challenges and Opportunities...
Firstly, if we take a look at businesses such as hotels, there is potential to develop booking systems and create appropriate applications that raise the awareness of the hotels presence. It can be difficult for smaller business to compete with corporate companies due to finance, location and staffing for instance, so it is essential to take this into consideration.
Even though there is a strong notion of community spirit in rural areas, it is also easy for vulnerable people to become cut off from society or find it difficult to travel due to location. Some of these people could suffer with health problems that need to be monitored but it is time consuming for clinicians or patients to travel. A possible solution for this issue could be the development for a Telehealth package to benefit both the patient and clinician.
There is also a growing focus on carbon footprints and companies that produce agrifood products are under increasing pressure to monitor and reduce their impact on the environment. In order for this to happen, low cost applications that measure carbon footprint could be an invaluable tool and enable companies to measure their improvements.
These are just a few examples of how rural businesses and communities can benefit from innovative digital technology developed specifically for their area.
Other challenges to consider are issues like how easily farmers buy and sell second hand agricultural machinery, animal welfare, access to training for small businesses and raising awarness of tourist activities and attractions in the local area. There are more examples available in the Superfast Broadband Fund for Lincolnshire Application Guidelines.
There is £150,000 in the fund and this will be made available via investments of up to £25,000 per application on a revenue share basis. Your company does not need to be based in Lincolnshire to apply; this fund is available to all of the North, Midlands and South West. The company must match the loan 50/50 in order to share the development costs.
The digital solutions will be tested by businesses from within Lincolnshire County Council who will provide feedback regarding the benefits and suitability of the products.
What We Need From You…
First of all you will need to register your interest which you can do by heading here. You will also need to prepare a detailed proposal and in it tell us what your organisation does, any exciting relevant achievements, who your key staff are and what they do. Most importantly though, you'll need to describe your proposal to the Superfast Broadband Fund. How will your company support and address issues faced by rural businesses? Will you look for a business opportunity or have you spotted an area where the market has failed and you know what the solution is?
Priority will be given to proposals that utilise the Superfast Broadband infrastructure to benefit businesses based in Greater Lincolnshire. In particular, look to provide digital solutions for priority areas such as agrifood, engineering, renewables, transport and logistics, care and visitor Economy.
Is your proposal innovative? If so, how? Tell us.
We also need to know the important fiddly stuff. What format, platforms and partners are you planning to use? Your company will also need to provide us with a timeline, a full cost breakdown and details of any Intellectual Property (IP) that will be created as a result of the digital solution. You will need to state the amount you are requesting (up to £25,000) and you will also need to tell us details about how the fund will be matched 50/50 by private sector investment and secured by the applicant company either through internal or external investment.
Your digital solution could make a difference to the rural economy and improve peoples lives, if you have a solution then apply now.
- Funding for Businesses