Two funding pots are available to help local employers across The Marches improve their broadband connectivity and to help reduce the potential for cyber security risks.
The grants are being funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and are on offer to SME businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
The Marches & Gloucestershire Business Broadband Grant is offering up to £25,000 for companies to upgrade their internet connection and ensure they have the connectivity needed to work and trade in the new business world.
At the same time, staff at the Centre for Cyber Security are drawing on ERDF funding to offer companies a Cyber Organisational Needs Analysis (CONA) which includes an assessment by Knowledge Transfer Manager Cyber Consultants and PhD Cyber researchers from the University’s Wolverhampton Cyber Research Institute (WCRI). The assessment includes an external Cyber Security Rating which includes a review of vulnerabilities and recommendations aligned to business priorities. The report covers categories of Compromised Systems, Diligence and Public Disclosures.
Ian Stoddart, Marches & Gloucestershire Business Broadband Grant Support Officer, said: “As we move out of the pandemic, businesses will be aiming to move at pace, opening up to growth possibilities and efficiencies from business broadband. One of the natural consequences from this is that it opens employers up to a greater risk from cyber-attack and fraud.
“Statistics have shown that there has been a 600% increase in cyber-attacks on SME businesses during the Covid-19 crisis. As larger businesses strengthen their cyber security, criminals have begun to focus on smaller companies who are less likely to have the in-house skills or understanding to protect themselves.
“By teaming up with the Centre for Cyber Security and making best use of the funding available, which includes cutting-edge cyber security expertise, we can ensure that businesses can thrive in the new normal as they make more and more use of home-working, e-commerce, online ordering and delivery as well as needing to post and download increasing amounts of data and information on a regular basis.”
Nicki Roberts, Managing Director at Kinetic 6 based in Hereford, said: “We were so excited by the Cyber Quarter coming to Hereford, we felt it recognised and endorsed that Herefordshire is fast becoming the leading global cyber hub and, rather selfishly, we wanted to be first in the queue to access the expertise and resources on offer!
“The team have taken the time to get to know our organisation, our core values and the innovations we are currently working on, from this knowledge they provided support in the form of mentoring, knowledge transfer, market appraisal, assisted in raising our profile and facilitated great connections with new stakeholders.
“We were fortunate enough to visit the new facility in between lockdowns and were hugely impressed, we look forward to contributing to the concepts to be created and nurtured there.”
James Thompson, managing director of Sansaw Estate near Shrewsbury, said the grant had helped boost broadband speeds from 20-30Mbps to as much as 100Mbps at the business park.
“It has been transformational and as a result of what we have done we now have 100 per cent occupancy. I have done a lot of grant applications and this was one of the easiest to do. I cannot speak highly enough of the team.”
The grant – part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund – provides up to 100% of the capital installation cost and helps to match businesses with potential suppliers.
Businesses must be based in Herefordshire, Shropshire or Telford & Wrekin, be a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) within an eligible sector, be able to demonstrate an economic case for high-speed broadband connectivity and be beyond the scope of committed broadband infrastructure roll-out plans.
To apply for the Business Broadband grant, companies must register on the Marches & Gloucestershire Business Broadband Grant portal at http://www.mgbroadbandgrants.com/. Registration is subject to approval and can take up five working days. Once approved, you will be required to complete a ‘request for quotation’ form and suppliers will then submit quotes. To see more businesses which have been helped by the grant visit: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/business-broadband-grant/
Businesses can apply for the Cyber Organisational Needs Analysis by filling out this form here