Connectivity grants launched in bid to boost SME growth

28 March 2023

New research from Three Business has revealed that better connectivity among Birmingham SMEs would contribute an extra £3.09bn a year to the local economy.

With growth front of mind for SMEs, almost two thirds (63 per cent) said their business could grow faster if they had access to better tech (compared to 43 per cent across the UK).

And nearly half (46 per cent) think that their business could be left behind because of it (compared to 39 per cent across the country).

The analysis, conducted in partnership with Censuswide and Development Economics also found that while retention is crucial to growing a business, over half (53 per cent) of Birmingham businesses think they could lose good employees as a result of poor connectivity, compared to the UK average of a third (35 per cent).

Over half (55 per cent) of SME leaders in Birmingham felt that poor connectivity hinders their business’ potential for growth and are, therefore, looking to improve it.

The research comes as SMEs explore how to manage the rising cost of doing business, as the vast majority (90 per cent) of SME leaders in Birmingham said they find the current economic climate difficult to navigate.

Birmingham businesses have identified where extra practical support would be welcomed:

  • Almost two thirds (62 per cent) felt that better connectivity would ease some of the financial pressures they are facing
  • 54 per cent said that they would welcome connectivity grants as well as guidance on how to get the most out of their connectivity
  • 42 per cent said they would like support paying bills

In response, Three Business is launching a new grant scheme worth £150,000 for SMEs in Birmingham, with support from Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.

The grants will equip local SMEs with access to Three’s 5G network – the fastest in Birmingham – as well as a team of Three Business specialists. Businesses can apply to receive one of several 5G Business SIM packages, as well as 5G Business Broadband for two years.

Snehal Bhudia, director of business propositions and go to market, Three Business, said: “Businesses frequently tell us that great connectivity is one of the biggest enablers of growth, impacting all aspects of running their business - from the experience they can provide to their customers to how happy their employees are and how well they can carry out their jobs.

“That’s why we’re providing connectivity grants to businesses in Birmingham, so they can focus on doing what they do best and contribute to their local economies.”

Henrietta Brealey, CEO, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “Birmingham’s business community is diverse, entrepreneurial and very skilled at adapting, particularly after the last few years.

“Three’s research shows that local businesses are highly aware of the potential for digital technology to either drive growth or risk leaving late adopters behind. But in a cost of doing business crisis, finding the cash and capacity to invest can be challenging.

“That is why we are delighted to support these grants. While work is underway to improve digital connectivity through the Digital City Programme, there’s a real need here and now to get businesses better connected. I’d encourage all Birmingham based SMEs reading this to take a look and consider applying.”

To find out more about the grants and what’s on offer visit here.

To apply for Three UK’s connectivity grant visit here.

Pictured: Henrietta Brealey and Three Business representative Gaynor Bowe

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