Creative SMEs get digital boost

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Contractors, limited companies and other people setting up a business with creative digital skills could be in with the chance to gain £12,500 to power their commercial ideas.

Creative England has unveiled its Digital Accelerator scheme, which is open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who work in such areas as app development, gaming, animation or special effects. Additionally, the scheme also welcomes entries from those working to innovate such traditional sectors as healthcare, finance, aerospace and climate change.

The idea behind the programme allows SMEs the chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of experts from a wide range of digital firms, which could then lead to gaining seed interest.

As well as £12,500 in investment for each company, they also gain workshops, masterclasses and mentoring from experts in the industry. They can enjoy one-to-one advice on business, desk space within the Digital Accelerator office and a chance to pitch to investors at the next stage of investment.

There are regional boundaries on who can join as Creative England says the company must be based in the North, Midlands or South West England by the time they get to join the programme.

It is also only open to those digital creative companies who are two years old or under. They may come with a prototype or working beta but cannot expect support for a product that has already been launched.

SMEs have until Friday September 12th to get their entries in. If they are one of the eight that are selected, they will be entered into a 14 week intensive programme of investment and business support to get the ball rolling on their commercial venture.

The application process has come at a time when the UK is looking at its global positioning in terms of digital skills and available talent.

For example, the Digital Skills Committee has been set up within the House of Lords to look into information and communications technology, skills and how competitive the UK is in these areas.

On September 1st and 2nd it is running some panel debates on these areas with leading companies in digital industries, such as McKinsey & Company, Virgin Media and BT.

The debates can be viewed by going to the parliamentary TV channel or by following it on Twitter. Additionally, evidence from people already working in the area is being called for to be considered by the Committee.

While the UK aims to improve its standing in the digital skills race, there is also a concern over the shortage of talent that may be faced in this field. In fact, British businesses believe that there will be a crisis within the next three years. What's more, 32 per cent feel that there is a skills shortage at entry level and 53 per cent say they cannot find the right talent to fill their roles.

However, contractors with the right skills have seen an increase in demand as companies are in need of a temporary solution to plug the talent gap.

By Victoria McDonnell

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