Warwickshire County Council is set to launch an £80K project to support digital initiatives that will encourage people to visit the county’s town centres for leisure and business post-lockdown.
The Town Centres Tech Challenge fund is to be set-up after a business survey undertaken by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) identified the need for digital products which help support and promote town centres, engage existing and new customers and improve consumer confidence in returning following the end of the current national lockdown.
The scheme will be looking at projects that will reinvigorate town centres in the future when lockdown restrictions are again lifted.
The innovative scheme will support proposals that address one or more of the following goals:
- Helps create a town centre’s sense of place, why should people visit, how and when
- Helps consumers feel confident about visiting their favourite businesses in town centres
- Supports the promotion of businesses both individually and as a whole town experience
- Increases engagement between the local community and town centre businesses
- Increases engagement between a wider audience and town centre businesses
The County Council is to begin the search for businesses to kick-start a bigger project to identify and support an initiative that will focus on promoting the county’s town centres as places to visit, enjoy and engage with safely.
Funding between £10,000 and £80,000 will be available for companies that clearly demonstrate they can address at least one of the goals which have been highlighted and the County Council is welcoming everything from start-up ideas to an existing initiative which needs to be scaled or accelerated.
Applications will be judged by an expert panel made up of local authority and industry representatives and need to be a collaboration between at least two local businesses or organisations within Warwickshire’s geography.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council and portfolio holder for economic development, said: “Our town centres were already facing significant challenges and the announcement of further restrictions to the hospitality sector and non-essential retail will be another blow.
“The increased difficulties that businesses are facing has accelerated the need for creative and innovative approaches to redefine how town centres promote themselves and our reasons for visiting them.
“Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our town centres. Given the strength of our digital creative community in Warwickshire, we want to encourage and support collaboration between our town centre businesses and this sector, to develop initiatives that will play a vital role in supporting the resilience and recovery of town centres across the area and help to stimulate the local economy.
“We are not being prescriptive about what types of projects should be submitted so, if you have an idea, we want to hear about it.
“We are looking to support up to four initiatives that could be implemented across the county, and we would like applicants to demonstrate partnership working with town centre businesses and organisations for which they are seeking to help.”
Sarah Windrum, board director and chair of the Digital and Creative Business Group at the CWLEP, added: “This innovative scheme will be perfect for the myriad of digital and creative businesses that are based in Warwickshire to showcase their skills and ability to connect with people to encourage them to return to the High Streets in due course.
“Throughout Covid-19, many businesses have embraced digital technology in a wide range of sectors in ways they had not done so previously and that has led to engaging with new and old customers.
“The CWLEP’s Reset Strategic Framework is focused on encouraging businesses to adapt new practices and new ways of working in this very different world, and the Town Centres Tech Challenge fund is an example of that so I would encourage as many Warwickshire-based digital and creative businesses as possible to find out more and enter the competition.”
All projects must be completed by March 31, 2021.
The competition will be launched shortly. The call will be published on: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinesssupport
To register an interest and be notified when it goes live, please email: email@example.com