Applications closed early after strong uptake for £25m programme
A grant programme launched by the Scottish Government to help businesses embrace digital transformation has received so many expressions of interest that it has been forced to stop taking applications just days after launching.
Applications for the DigitalBoost Development Grant, which is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by its SME advice organisation Business Gateway and local councils, opened at the beginning of this week.
The £25m fund offers grants of between £2,400 and £20,000 to small and medium-sized businesses with the specific aim of helping them utilise digital technologies. The scheme launched last year and has so far supported 4,000 businesses.
When the latest tranche of the scheme opened, applicants were told that the money would be allocated on a first come, first served basis, with applications due to close on 24 January. However, a note on the DigitalBoost website says that “the response to the grant has been exceptional and registrations for expression of interest are now closed”.
The organisation noted that future grant funding would be made available and said organisations should continue to complete the eligibility check and registration process in order to be considered at a later date.
Among the companies to benefit from the first round of funding were crane hire business Forsyth of Denny and North Lanarkshire-based The Power Within Training.
The former used the money to digitise its processes, so workers did not need to fill in paperwork between jobs while the latter was able to pay for a designer to build a virtual training platform, an inbuilt customer relationship management system and an e-commerce system.
“Our system beforehand was quite archaic in terms of how we gave the information to our team from working with our customers, through to how we invoiced clients for a job,” said Forsyth managing director Hugh McNally. “The pandemic gave us a chance to catch our breath and work out a way of improving things, and the funding through DigitalBoost gave us the opportunity and allowed us to start digitising a number of our processes, helping us build efficiencies and better ways of working.”
James Fleming, managing director of The Power Within Training, added that being able to add digital functionality had been invaluable to his business during the pandemic.
“Within the first week of our training portal and course content going live, we’d made over £2,500,” he said. “The grant has really helped us stay afloat as a business through these uncertain times, but it is also a strong investment for the future. We can now build on what we’ve created with the help of the DigitalBoost fund. It’s really accelerated our growth.”