Ambitions for a more digitally connected and “greener” East Midlands’ economy are to receive a boost in 2017, thanks to £17 million of investment via the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.
D2N2 has opened up bids for funding for two major programmes, one to extend the roll-out of faster broadband technology across its area, and the other to promote more energy efficient business operations and grow the low carbon economy.
Organisations who believe their projects fulfil these aims can now apply for support from the two programmes, which are both funded via the European Regional Development (ERDF) portion of D2N2’s wider €250million European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).
£6.5million is being made available for projects designed to enhance access to information and communications technology (ICT) across the D2N2 LEP area.
This includes extending fibre broadband availability and the roll-out of high-speed networks to support the adoption of emerging technologies and networks for the digital economy by businesses.
The aim is to enable more SMEs to gain access to superfast – 30 megabits per second (mbs) or above – and high growth firms to gain access to ultra-fast (100mbs or above) fibre broadband, through the provision of infrastructure (including cabling and broadband “cabinets”).
£8.5million is also available for projects which support the region’s attempts to shift to a “low carbon” economy. This is one where businesses use less energy from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) – which produce the carbon dioxide and other emissions linked to global warming and climate change – through improving their energy efficiency, or by making more use of renewable energy alternatives.
The D2N2 “low carbon” programme is calling for projects which will promote production and distribution of renewable energy; more efficient use of energy, and of renewable energy, in business; energy efficiency, smart energy management and renewable energy use in the public sector, including in public buildings and the housing sector; strategies which reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions for all types of environment, including urban areas; and research and innovation in, and adoption of, low-carbon technologies.
David Ralph, chief executive of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Better digital connectivity, improved energy use and ‘low carbon’ growth opportunities are important business drivers, but they can prove expensive considerations for smaller enterprises.
“D2N2 has been supporting projects which help companies on both fronts for some time, with investment to help SMEs access low carbon technologies and in widening broadband access across the two counties we cover. These two new major programmes will enable us to do even more to help businesses in our area and we are keen to see some ambitious projects coming forward”.