Over £20 million boost to digital adoption and business support provided by the Scottish Government
The Scottish Government has announced an over £20 million funding package to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) adopt digital technology in order to improve productivity, increase resilience, and create new market opportunities.
Of the £23.6 million announced £11.8 million will go to help businesses adopt digital technology and boost their digital capability, while a further £10 million will be provided to bolster financial incentives and provide expert advice to support SMEs to invest in digital solutions.
A further £800,000 will be given to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help its Digital Enablement Grant to reach more SMEs, while the Data Lab will receive £1 million to help businesses invest in advanced technologies like data analytics and artificial intelligence.
techUK has called for new grant funding to be made available to support the uptake of digital technologies. This is particularly important at a time when due to the impact of COVID-19 budgets are stretched, but businesses see the opportunity to utilise the power of digital technology to increase their productivity.
A recent survey by Sage found that while 71% of SMEs in the UK say investing in technology will increase their profitability and create jobs, 1 in 2 said that they would be unable to do so due to severe cash constraints.
Importantly the support offered also ensures financial assistance for expert advice. This will be vital as it is by using a combination of technologies and digital services to transform how a business operates that delivers the real benefits. A Lloyds analysis found that businesses using a combination of cloud-based IT systems, online accounting software and digital training tools to develop new products and services had on average £262,000 higher annual turnover than those using none.
This is an area where progress still has to be made as despite 65% of businesses in Scotland using new technology to find new methods of communication, just 18% had used new tech to find new ways of selling, and just 16% had utilised tech to develop new products or services. According to research by the Fraser of Allander Institute.
The funding increase provided by the Scottish Government is therefore welcome progress to supporting businesses reach their potential and will help remove financial barriers preventing SMEs from adopting and fully utilising digital technologies. This will not just boost productivity growth among SMEs but also support the wider economic recovery.
The announcement by the Scottish Government can be found here.