British SMBs to benefit from fresh £2m government tech fund

The fund will be split between fifteen projects which will all aim to encourage SMBs to adopt the latest technologies

Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced a new 2 million wave of funding which will be shared across 15 different small businesses, academic institutions and local authorities to help them embrace technology and become more profitable.

The projects will use the fund to harness artificial intelligence and cloud computing, with the view that encouraging these organisations to utilise modern technology could result in a productivity boost worth 100 billion to the UK's economy.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The fund, which forms part of the government's plan to boost UK national productivity through its modern Industrial Strategy, is delivered in partnership with Innovate UK and Nesta.

The fund's recipients include Locality, a London-based charity that supports local community organisations, which will pilot a scheme to increase the adoption of cloud-based accounting packages by community sector Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Elsewhere, a collaboration between Greater London Authority, CognitionX, Capital Enterprise, and the London School of Economics will see a push to boost adoption of AI technologies like chatbots for the retail and hospitality sector.

The collaboration's efforts will see research using a randomised controlled trial (RCT) targeted at discovering what the best method is for encouraging SMEs to adopt AI.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

"Lessons from this RCT will provide valuable insight into the most (a) effective and (b) cost-effective means of driving adoption of AI; whether education and convening is sufficient to drive adoption or whether a degree of 'hand-holding' is needed when seeking to drive adoption of perceived cutting edge technologies, said Dr. Anna Valero, economist and researcher at LSE.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"Moreover, the findings from this experiment will have value for other geographies, technologies and sectors across the UK. We will also seek to evaluate the impacts on firm performance over the longer term."

Even dairy farmers are getting in on the act. The $20 billion dairy manufacturing sector will benefit from research out of the University of Surrey which aims to develop a diagnostic tool, enabling SMEs in the sector to easily evaluate the case for investment in proven technologies that improve resource productivity.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and as part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we are supporting them with new investments to boost their productivity and ensure they can continue to thrive in the future, said Kelly Tolhurst, small business minister.

"Today's investment will support innovative projects that test how government and private sector companies can help small businessesadopt a range of technologies and management practices that save them time and make them more efficient."

"The Business Basics Fund signals a welcome commitment by government to applying experimental methods to boosting economic productivity, said Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of innovation foundation at Nesta.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"It is vitally important that we gather evidence about the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the billions of pounds that are spent by governments around the world, currently with not enough hard evidence about what works."

The government has also published the Business Support Evaluation Framework. The new Framework will set out the quality standards that are expected for evaluations of BEIS-funded business supportprogrammesandwillenablethe effectiveness of different policies and programmes to be compared.

The framework is designed to assist policy-makers, evaluators and delivery bodies ingeneratingrobust evidence of what works,soBEIS can make better-informed decisionsof current and future policies.

The Industrial Strategy is also helping us nurture and upskill people to do the jobs of the future, through increased investment in technical education and a national retraining scheme.

Featured Resources

Navigating the new normal: A fast guide to remote working

A smooth transition will support operations for years to come

Download now

Putting a spotlight on cyber security

An examination of the current cyber security landscape

Download now

The economics of infrastructure scalability

Find the most cost-effective and least risky way to scale

Download now

IT operations overload hinders digital transformation

Clearing the path towards a modernised system of agreement

Download now
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/laptops/29190/how-to-find-ram-speed-size-and-type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

24 Jun 2020
Visit/policy-legislation/data-protection/356344/eu-institutions-warned-against-purchasing-any-further
data protection

EU institutions told to avoid Microsoft software after licence spat

3 Jul 2020
Visit/mobile/mobile-phones/356335/the-man-has-ruined-my-huawei-p40
Mobile Phones

The Man has ruined my Huawei P40

3 Jul 2020