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UK start-ups unhappy about government support for Google-led initiative

UK website and web hosting companies have accused business secretary Peter Mandelson of supporting multinationals over local start-ups.

The outcry is over Mandelson's public support for Getting British Business Online (GBBO), a joint venture led by Google to get 100,000 businesses online with a free website by the end of 2010.

Despite operating in one of the most advanced e-commerce markets in the world with over 40 million people now online, as many as 1.5 million businesses in the UK do not have a website, according to eSkills, a GBBO partner.

"Many businesses are not yet online either because they see it as too costly, too complicated or not necessary - often all three," reads a statement on the organisation's website.

But several UK start-ups, including website software firm Mr Site and web hosting companies Webfusion and Moonfruit, have said the business secretary should have at least highlighted the existence of UK alternatives, according to the Financial Times.

The start-ups are also unhappy that several of the partners in GBBO are publicly funded, such as Business Link.

The Department for Business said in a statement that the business secretary was happy to wish GBBO success, but was not saying that Google is the only player in the market.


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