Saturday, 17 January 2015

Businesses in the north east to benefit from new free digital workshop and mentoring programme

An innovative new workshop and mentoring programme has been launched by Minister Arlene Foster MLA, Department of Trade and Investment, to help businesses across the north east region to grow and promote their businesses online.

The North East Digital Champion Programme is being delivered by Belfast-based agency Oli on behalf of Larne Borough Council. The programme is supported by Invest Northern Ireland part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and by the seven councils in the North East Region: Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Larne, Moyle and Newtownabbey.

Focussing on helping businesses to grow their online presence and sales, and increase revenue, the workshops will have guest speakers from local businesses presenting case studies on how to do this effectively. Lessons learned will be shared on how to maximise on the potential of the digital platform, including the application of available fast broadband technology.  The free workshops will be held across the north east region, running on a weekly basis from mid January 2015 to the end of February 2015.

The availability of very fast broadband has great potential to help all businesses to increase geographical sales, improve business processes and develop new commercial solutions. Among many other things, high speed broadband enables businesses to send and receive information up to 20 times faster than a dial-up connection, to download and process orders, communicate instantaneously with customers, keep social channels updated, upload images to their website, and buy and sell products or services on- line.  

The next stage in the programme will be bespoke one-to-one mentoring where businesses will benefit from tailored individual sessions with a digital expert, to focus on their specific need and growth potential.  Attendees at the workshops and businesses who contact the programme directly can apply for mentoring.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said: “As Northern Ireland is a small business economy, one of our core priorities is to help small businesses grow and develop through export success and innovation.  There is great potential for businesses to better exploit the commercial opportunities of the digital platform. Many businesses do not yet appreciate how they could become more profitable, sustainable and efficient through the use of high-speed broadband which is readily available across much of the north east region. My department, through Invest NI, works with companies to develop their international sales and export potential. Northern Ireland continues to be an attractive location for global investment across a range of sectors and programmes such as these are helping local business to expand their markets internationally.”

Mayor of Larne Borough Council; Councillor Martin Wilson who are leading the programme said: “This is a very exciting programme that will also include the development of a digital opportunities and infrastructure strategy.  Together with the workshops and mentoring, this will be of great benefit to businesses across the council areas, and I would encourage businesses to sign up for the free workshops and mentoring."

James Hanna from programme delivery agent Oli said: “We are delighted to be delivering this programme to businesses across the region who are hungry to develop their online business and boost their revenue and reach.  Such positive engagement from businesses to date has been testament to their commitment to exploit all digital opportunities.”

To book your free place on any of the workshops, or find out more about the mentoring opportunities please contact: