On behalf of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR), and as part of the Government's National Digital Strategy, the Local Enterprise Office Dublin City recently conducted an Online Training pilot scheme targeting small businesses in the Dublin area. The pilot consisted of two 'trials', each of which were successfully completed; one was completed at the end of 2013 and the second in Q1 2014. Each trial involved the allocation of 25 trading online vouchers in a competitive process. In total, 50 businesses were successful in receiving a voucher worth up to €2,500.
Applicant businesses were selected based on their project plan which included their expected growth in jobs and exports. The pilot scheme attracted businesses across a wide spectrum of activity including retail, wholesale, product and service providers.
The scheme is now being scaled up in preparation for the national rollout. DCENR is working closely with Enterprise Ireland and with the Local Enterprise Offices across the country on the rollout plan. It is expected that the plan to scale up the scheme will see 250 vouchers being made available initially in Dublin City and County, Cork City and County, Waterford, Kerry and Louth in the second phase of the pilot scheme. It is intended that the scheme will be rolled out nationally during the coming months, with a target to issue vouchers to 1,000 qualifying companies by the end of 2014.
The Deputy should note that the National Digital Research Centre (NDRC), which is funded by DCENR, supports digital entrepreneurship through its successful digital start-up programme and in transitioning late-stage research into commercial business opportunities. Following investment to date of over €25m by the State, the NDRC has set up over 140 ventures which have created more than 300 high value jobs.
Enterprise Ireland (EI) works with approximately 3,500 client companies. Through its Internet Marketing Unit (IMU), EI is focused on helping its export-focused clients across all sectors to exploit the Internet as a route to market and to assist them in developing a strategy that will shape how they do business online.
The IMU provides a range of services, including strategic guidance, workshops and seminars and funding support including funding for an e-Marketing Improvement Assignment. The Unit has also developed a questionnaire to help clients to establish a baseline of their Internet Marketing activity.