In Business growth and finance, News

Businesses in the North East can now access a free digital technology programme thanks to a new initiative from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP).

The programme, aimed at SMEs, will focus on utilising technology to promote business growth and expansion.

Growth through Digital Technology is a partnership between the North East LEP and some of the technology sector’s biggest names including Microsoft, BT, Google, Uber and Nominet. Local partners including Federation of Small Businesses, Asian Business Connexions, Sunderland Software City, Digital Skills Academy and the Department for International Trade are also supporting the initiative.

The first event on Thursday 24 November – delivered by BT in association with Uber and the SME Centre of Excellence – will focus on using technology to deliver faster and more profitable growth. Speakers include Mike Jones, an entrepreneur with a number of small businesses, formerly founding MD of BT Local Business, a BT division serving over one million SME customers; and Senior Operations Manager at Uber UK, Gemma Bloemen.

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP said: “We’ve teamed up with organisations including FSB, BT and Nominet to help small to medium sized businesses in the North East LEP area use digital technology to scale up.

“Our series of free masterclasses and seminars will cover everything from selling online to attracting new customers. We’ll also be looking at how digital technology can be used to control costs and finances, as well as build long-term business resilience.

“We’ll be helping businesses access free advice from experts in the field so they can draft and implement a digital strategy that works for their business.”

Chris Yiu, General Manager at Uber, added, “We’re really excited to be involved with the North East LEP. There is a fantastic tech scene here in the North East and we really want to play a role in making it a leading tech hub.”

Designed for businesses looking to expand their digital presence and use new technology to grow their operation, Growth through Digital Technology will provide SMEs in the region access to expert help as well as supporting tools and techniques via business support platform, the North East Growth Hub (northeastgrowthhub.co.uk).

In addition to the series of free masterclasses and seminars, funding to support businesses in developing a digital technology action plan has been secured via Northumberland-based enterprise agency NBSL and the North East Business Support Fund.

Colin continued: “This is a fantastic programme and one that many businesses could really benefit from. Research has shown that organisations that adopt digital technology grow faster and enjoy higher growth profits. That’s something we want more companies in the North East to achieve.”

Some of the free masterclasses businesses can sign up to include; ‘Attracting customers with killer content’, ‘Using the cloud to manage operations and mange performance’ and ‘Using digital technology to trade internationally’.

The programme’s first event, ‘Delivering faster and more profitable growth’, takes place on Thursday 24 November.

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£2m PORT OF BLYTH TRAINING CENTRE OPENSDr Alan Lowdon, Chair, North East LEP Innovation Board