DOZENS of fledgling Edinburgh businesses are getting connected after taking advantage of free internet access.
Gyle-based social enterprise Entrepreneurial Spark is providing superfast broadband for 50 new firms.
Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing visited the site this morning to find out how the service was benefiting the businesses.
Entrepreneurial Spark’s base – known as the “Hatchery” – has helped generate more than £1.3 million for the Scottish economy. And Mr Ewing said: “It is vital that new-start businesses like these have access to high-speed broadband to enable them to thrive and compete internationally.
“Our ability to exploit these new opportunities is central to positioning Scotland as a world-leading digital nation within a global digital economy. Already, Scotland has world-class strengths in areas like renewables and life sciences, and I want our digital industry to be a similar driving force for this country.
“Investments like these will boost jobs, transform our businesses, raise productivity and open up new markets to attract inward investment.”
Superfast broadband provides improved download and upload speeds, as well as a more reliable service. With up to 50 companies logging on to the internet connection simultaneously, it was crucial the facility had enough bandwidth to keep the infrastructure from buckling under the pressure.
The access is provided in partnership with Virgin Media Business.
Robert Parker, its public sector director, said the high-speed, secure connection allowed the businesses to focus on other things.
He said: “By giving Edinburgh’s talented and ambitious start-ups at Entrepreneurial Spark access to the kind of superfast connectivity that we provide to major businesses and organisations across the country, we’re helping them to unlock their potential ensuring that they can grow their ventures and inject prosperity into the local economy to enable a better Scotland for all.”
Lucy-Rose Walker of Entrepreneurial Spark was pleased to show the minister the benefits first hand. She said: “We work with entrepreneurs moving at a superfast pace and we need connectivity that can keep up.
“Covering a range of sectors, our Edinburgh Hatchery is home to a thriving mix of businesses working hard and putting in the hours to grow and develop.
“We’re excited to welcome Fergus Ewing to Entrepreneurial Spark to see the passion and energy in action – as we work towards creating an entrepreneurial renaissance in and from Scotland.”
One company that knows better than most about the integral role of reliable, fast broadband in business development is smart commerce firm Basewarp.
The company’s founder, Mark Sorsa Leslie said: “Every day we’re meeting with companies who are interested in working with us and investing in our business.
“With offices both here and in Finland, tools such as Skype are fundamental for us to make decisions, take action and build our business.”
He added: “Our app has to provide our customers with up-to-the-minute information, and the only way we can do that is via a superfast internet connection.”