Digital economy crucial for small businesses, claims Baroness » SMEInsider

Digital economy crucial for small businesses, claims Baroness

Baroness Neville-Rolfe discussed the importance of the digital upon British SMEs, but has called upon government to improve its broadband services.


Helping SMEs innovate with minimum risk

Speaking at social and economic forum Politeia’s Small Business, Intellectual Property & The Digital Economy event, Neville-Rolfe discussed the government’s investment into the digital economy, and how this investment is helping SMEs.

“In any event the companies in this digital world are pivotal to the UK economy and indeed to continued small business creation and growth. I ought to add, that government realises this very well.

“We made this clear in the Autumn Statement. We are, for example, investing £1.8 billion in digital technology and transformation projects across the public sector over the next 4 years.

“We have also established the concept of ‘Digital Catapults’ – these help our SMEs to innovate speedily and with minimum risk, so that new digital products and services can be accelerated to market,” continued the baroness.

Digital Citizens


Faster broadband

Small businesses have been calling out for faster broadband over the past few years, especially SMEs that are located outside of London.

The government has been trying to provide businesses with the funds and infrastructure for faster broadband, particularly with its Broadband Connection Voucher scheme, but Neville-Rolfe believes that government should do more to become a world leader in providing technology.

“A fundamental part of support for digital is ensuring access to broadband,” explained the baroness.

“Today, superfast broadband is available to over 83% of homes and businesses in the UK up from 45% in 2010. This is better than Germany, France, Italy and Spain, but we need to be world leading like Japan and South Korea.

“I have worked in South Korea and their hard work, obsession with getting a good education and their digital savviness have much to commend them.

The good news here however is that things are getting better and by the end of 2017 superfast broadband will be available to 95% of homes and businesses in the UK. And the Prime Minister has announced a Universal Service Obligation of 10 megabytes from 2020 in recognition of the fact that broadband is in effect now a fourth utility, and a disruptive one at that.”

Baroness Neville-Wolfe rounded off talking about the impact of technology on UK businesses by revealing some interesting statistics.

“On the back of all this, a successful industry has been created. 1.46 million people are employed in digital tech companies in the UK. 50% of these have been formed since 2008, and 15% alone in 2013 to 2014. 98% of these are small businesses. And this will be news to most of you, 3 quarters of digital tech companies are based outside London.”