Wales Office Minister Stephen Crabb MP will today visit Cardiff’s new digital hub to highlight the major funding the UK government is providing to small businesses so they can access super fast internet speeds.
Minister Crabb will see Cardiff Council’s ‘Digital Demonstrator Hub’ in County Hall - the first of its kind in Wales.
The hub supports the council’s connection voucher scheme - provided by the UK government - which will see vouchers worth up to £3,000 made available for small and medium sized businesses to cover the costs of installing better quality high speed broadband.
The hub showcases the latest in high-spec technology including 3D printers, touch screen tables and conferencing facilities and means businesses can get hands-on experience of how they can benefit from new technology and equipment made possible by super fast broadband.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Minister Crabb said:
“Cardiff is home to a highly skilled workforce and a rich source of entrepreneurial talent, attracting investment from across the UK and around the world.
“I’m delighted to see that thanks to UK government funding more small businesses than ever before in Cardiff can now benefit from ultra fast internet speeds, giving them access to the very latest technology to attract more customers and drive growth.
“This has been made possible through the £150million we have invested in super-connected cities across the UK - including £10.2million for Cardiff. Newport has also been awarded funds and both cities are investing the money to update their digital infrastructure and pay for business broadband connection vouchers.
“This investment will enable Cardiff and Newport to compete with the world’s top digital cities and gives them a critical competitive edge in the global race.”
Small businesses are encouraged to apply for broadband connection vouchers so they can take advantage of the benefits that superfast broadband brings.
Sign up for Cardiff Council’s Digital Cardiff Connecting Voucher Scheme
Councillor Phil Bale, Leader of Cardiff Council, with responsibility for Economic Development, said:
“The Council welcomes the Minster to the city, to show the excellent work that is being put in place to increase the capability for businesses to access global markets, to sell what is produced here in Wales to the world.
“Cardiff is home to a higher percentage of fast-growing firms – or ‘gazelles’ as you might call them – than any other city in the UK. Without super-fast broadband many of these companies would not be here.
“Cardiff is already one of the most digitally connected cities in Britain, with a higher percentage of our households able to access super-fast broadband than any of the other major core city in the UK.
“This £10.2m investment will build on this position of strength, forming a core part of our ambitions to strengthen the city economy over the coming years. We urge all businesses that qualify for this grant to make enquiries with the council as soon as possible.”
Minister Crabb added:
“I strongly urge local businesses to make use of Cardiff’s excellent digital hub and sign up to the voucher scheme. Not only does it represent excellent value for money but it means businesses can tap into global markets, create jobs and boost growth.”
The UK government has also invested £69million in the Superfast Cymru project which is on track to deliver superfast broadband to 96% of homes and businesses in Wales by spring 2016. This scheme will ensure more than 690,000 properties in Wales that would otherwise have been left in the digital slow lane will be able to access superfast speeds.
Minister Crabb will today (Thursday, 3rd April) also chair the fourth meeting of the infrastructure working group on telecommunications in Wales.
Group members, including representatives of major mobile phone operators, will discuss the next generation of digital infrastructure in Wales and how else the UK Government can help businesses take advantage of superfast broadband.
Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:
- £790m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
- £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
- £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
- Businesses interested in applying for funding through the Digital Cardiff Connecting Voucher Scheme are asked to make enquiries with Cardiff Council as soon as possible as all applications must be completed and orders placed with suppliers before March 31 2015.