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The DTI's UK online, together with Intel, British Telecom, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Lloyds TSB and the BCC, hope to encourage online trading by removing the technological barriers that small firms face in doing business online.
The first 16 e-Business Clubs will offer information, guidance and practical business solutions for e-commerce to participating companies.
"Many small firms have real challenges fully exploiting the opportunities that e-commerce can offer, said e-commerce minister Douglas Alexander. "These clubs will help small firms tap into a market worth billions of pounds in the UK alone."
David Lennan, director general of the BCC, said: "Small firms in the UK are currently holding back when it comes to getting online. This lends itself to the erosion of UK competitiveness.
"The e-Business Clubs see a coming together of public and private sectors to solve continuing problems that small firms in the UK face."
Jackie Parton, Intel UK marketing manager, told CW360.com: "Many of programmes aimed at SMEs in the past have got nowhere. This will be different because it is regionally based and the companies involved will be focusing on offering solutions to SMEs rather than on promoting their own products.
Parton added that during its 12 month investment period, Intel will offer advice and tools via its resellers.
Roger Till, external affairs director at the e.centre, the business-to-business user association, warmly welcomed the move. "It is an excellent initiative," he said. "SMEs don't know enough about the practicalities of electronic commerce. We have got to help them get the skills they need."
E-Business clubs: www.e-Businessclubs.co.uk