Derby City Council will spend £1.2m on superfast 2Gbps broadband for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as part of a £14.2m scheme to boost the city’s prominence as a technology hub and provide more jobs in the area.
The Connect Derby initiative is bringing together the council’s primary managed workspaces to provide micro-businesses, entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs with fit-for-purpose IT infrastructure and support to catalyse their expansion and growth.
It also hopes to lure more innovative and high-tech businesses from nearby cities such as Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield. The city already has a strong tech base, with around 12% of its workforce employed in high-tech roles.
The council said 150 businesses will be able to access superfast broadband through Virgin Media Business at a fraction of the normal cost.
It pointed out with rental prices in its "pay as you consume" hub starting at £200 per month for phone and broadband, it would be significantly cheaper to locate there as opposed to London or other large cities.
Derby City Council's deputy leader and cabinet member for planning environment and regeneration, Martin Rawson, said the scheme was actively supporting the city’s jobs agenda and supporting new enterprise by providing a more conducive environment for businesses.
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“To our knowledge, no other local authority scheme offers such a high level of economic regeneration and job creation, backed by developmental support and digital communication,” he said.
“Connect is set to generate jobs across the city and will also provide existing SMEs with a wider skillset to employ, which is a very positive move for the city as a whole,” added Rawson.
The council’s Sadler Bridge Studios, a £4.4m facility for creative industries, is already home to the UK base of US renewables and aerospace firm Florida Turbine Technology, digital design consultancy BinaryFold4 and engineering firm GSE Media. Derby is also in the process of refurbishing two other facilities.
Discussing Virgin Media Business’s role in the scheme, Andy Fisk, director of public sector at the supplier, said: “This is about giving local businesses access to the very best technology at a cost they can afford, helping them achieve their ambitions faster.
“Getting these tools and infrastructure in place will play a critical part in maintaining the UK’s digital advantage and supporting our economic recovery,” added Fisk.
Virgin already supplies WAN and LAN services to the council, and Wi-Fi for local businesses and residents.