Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Online Trading Voucher Scheme
Small businesses throughout Ireland can now apply to the government for digital vouchers to help their businesses trade online. 1000 vouchers will be available for qualifying businesses through the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) between now and the end of 2014 with more on offer next year.
NOTE: I just spoke with Sligo Local Enterprise Office and whereas initially there was a requirement to participate in one of the workshops before a business was allowed to apply for an Online Trading Voucher, they are now permitting applications from non-participants as well. However, the deadline for this round of applications is 1st August! You do not need 3 actual quotes for the work to be carried out but proof that you requested quotes from at least 3 different service providers. I assume you have to have at least one actual quote available for your submission.
According to the www.localenterprise.ie website the objective of the scheme is to help small businesses grow their sales, exports and ultimately jobs. Businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to €2500 or 50% of eligible expenditure (inclusive of vat), whichever is the lesser, as Government has allocated €5million for the rollout of the trading online voucher scheme. This follows on the success of a pilot in Dublin City.
The vouchers are targeted at businesses with the following profile:
- Limited online trading presence;
- Less than 10 employees;
- Turnover less than €2m;
- Applicant must be registered and trading for at least 12 months.
- Business must be located in the area covered by this phase of the scheme i.e. within the remit of the participating LEO's.
- Companies with charitable statue, commercial semi-state companies, "not for profit" organisations, trade associations and company representation bodies such as Chambers of Commerce are not eligible to participate in the scheme;
- Professional services specialising in IT type services who are already capable of trading online using existing in-house systems;
- Conferences and Seminars;
- Projects which are contrary to public policy.
- Duplication of support for projects which would be eligible for assistance from other State Agencies of EU funded Operational Programmes;
- Projects with employees in excess of 10 people;
- Projects deemed to be capable of proceeding in any event without scheme assistance i.e. deadweight.
- Projects essentially comprising import and distribution.
What vouchers can be used for:
- IT consultations;
- Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website;
- Implementing Online payments or booking systems;
- Purchase of Internet related software;
- Purchase of online advertising (this purchase cannot make up any more than 30% of approved Voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase.)
- Developing an app (or multiplatform webpages);
- Implementing a digital strategy ie. Social Media Marketing.
- Consultation with ICT for early stage adopters of online strategy;
- Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an online trading activity.
What the vouchers cannot be used for:
- Development of brochure websites;
- Purchase of non-internet related software;
- Anything other than online trading activity;
An evaluation committee will assess the applications and make recommendations for approval. A competitive process will be put in place to assist with selection process. Selection of successful applicant will be based on the following criteria:
- Eligiblity for scheme.
- Value added potential.
- Export potential.
- Job creation potential.
- Financial sustainability.
Letter of offer with voucher to be sent out to successful applicant.
Letter of offer signed, accepted and returned.
Client has four months to complete the work as per their application.
There is a half day training session that potential applicants must attend prior to submitting an application form. Dates depend on your Local Enterprise Office. Please check their websites for the next sessions.
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