Businesses get world-class broadband budget boost

By on 21/03/2012 in News

Businesses in Birmingham received a huge boost today from the Chancellor in his Budget speech with the announcement that Birmingham will receive up to £10million from the Urban Broadband Fund.

The fund aims to create Super Connected Cities that will enable the innovative, learning and creative sectors of Digbeth, Eastside and the Jewellery Quarter to be amongst the first in Britain to benefit from world class ultrafast broadband services on a par with those being delivered in leading countries across the globe.

The economic benefits of high quality connectivity are well documented and recognised as a critical driver in creating new jobs in the local community and encouraging inward investment to the area.

This announcement provides further support to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership Enterprise Zone with businesses being able to access high speed affordable connectivity giving them a real competitive edge; it is the culmination of a two-year programme of work designed to bring the very best digital infrastructure to the city.

The Digital Districts programme, driven by Digital Birmingham, will act as a showcase and business demonstrator to attract new businesses and inward investment and offer a strategy for economic prosperity, as well as ensure that the creative and digital media sectors and knowledge intensive businesses are able exploit the potential that high bandwidth conveys.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council and Chair of the Digital Birmingham Partnership, said: “The Digital District is just the beginning.

“As part of our ambition to establish Birmingham as one of Europe's leading Smart, Connected Cites, our aim is to extend next generation connectivity across the city. We see this as an important stimulus as part of Birmingham's regeneration in the Big City Plan that will enable the growth of 'intelligent' urban areas to create vibrant and flexible business & residential communities and promote greater enterprise, creating new jobs and economic growth opportunities.

“The existing concentration of digital businesses in Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter makes it the ideal starting point and ultrafast broadband will enable new possibilities for more advanced and innovative applications, created in Birmingham and marketed globally as well as make our existing skills in engineering, finance and design available across the world.”

Birmingham's approach is recognised by the European Commission as ground-breaking in the urban broadband arena and discussions are at an advanced stage to secure State Aid approval which will open the way for other European cities to follow.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Digital Birmingham was established in 2006 to ensure the benefits of digital and new emerging technologies are available to all people, businesses and sectors in the city.  The Digital Birmingham partnership includes representation from key business, research, educational, health and community sector organisations such as Virgin, Cisco, Centro, E.ON Energy Solutions Ltd, Coventry University Enterprises, Birmingham City University, Birmingham Science Park (Aston) and Marketing Birmingham.  By developing the city's digital infrastructure and digital services, it is determined to see Birmingham become a Smart, Connected City which will be critical in enhancing the region’s economic opportunities, as well as promoting greater social inclusion, enterprise and wellbeing.

The budget, announced today, made the following specific announcement on the Urban Broadband Fund:

Technology

The Government is setting an ambition to make the UK the technology hub of Europe. To support technological innovation and help the digital, creative and other high technology industries, the Government:

- will introduce corporation tax reliefs from April 2013 for the video games, animation and high end television industries, subject to State aid approval and following consultation;

- has selected Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle to become super-connected cities, as part of the £100 million investment announced at Autumn Statement 2011. By 2015 this will deliver ultrafast broadband coverage to 1.7 million households and 200,000 businesses in high growth areas as well as high speed wireless broadband for three million residents.

The Government will also provide an additional £50 million to fund a second wave of ten smaller super-connected cities

For media enquiries, in the first instance, please contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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