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Benefiting from the Business Basics Fund

Despite the current uncertainty as we approach Brexit, there was some good news last week for small business owners across the UK.  Small Business Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, confirmed the launch of a new fund to benefit small to medium businesses (SMBs) with 15 projects across Britain winning a share of £2 million from the first round of funding from the Business Basics Fund.  The Business Basics Fund is a series of open competitions and is the main element of the Business Basics Programme which was established in June 2018 to find ways to encourage small and medium sized businesses to adopt existing and new technologies to improve their productivity.

For any business owner, trying out something new is a big step for smaller companies to take – after all, anything new can be a bit of a risk.  However, adopting new technologies that are already proven, and new ways of doing things can help SMBs to grow and get ahead of the competition. 

The 15 projects already benefitting from the first round of funding feature cutting edge collaboration between business and other groups which include the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Enterprise Nation, Universities and government backed Growth Hubs and local authorities.  These include a digital dairy farm, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots and cloud computing technology.  The business doesn’t necessarily have to be a technology business, just a business that is using technology to increase productivity.

According to the chair of Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency, in order to solve the UK’s productivity problems as we face Brexit, more companies need to adopt new technologies.  A second funding competition has been launched with another £2 million available for businesses, local authorities and academia, for new projects which test ways of using existing productivity-boosting technology and management practices.    It’s hoped that this initiative will result in a £100 billion boost for the UK economy and a 5% reduction in income inequality.

In order to be eligible to applying for the project there are certain criteria a business will need to satisfy.  More detailed information on this is available on the government’s website under the Business Basics Fund heading. 

The government has also published a Business Support Evaluation Framework that contains the quality standards that are expected for evaluations of business support programmes funding by BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy).  The framework is designed to enable policy makers, evaluators and delivery organisations to generate accurate evidence on what works well in order to inform future policy making decisions.  Right now, the UK government is committed to investing in science and research to make sure the UK remains at the forefront of new technologies following Brexit. 

If you’re a small to medium business owner who has yet to go digital and adopt the technology necessary for success in the 21st Century, you may want to consider looking into the Business Basics Fund to see if your business meets the requirements.  If not, there are plenty of other ways to modernise your business processes to increase productivity.