Miranda Dobson

Thames Valley LEP demands improved broadband connectivity

The SME forum for the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) has announced its objectives this week as it re-formed.

Head of business in the region met to identify the most pressing issues that affect the TVB LEP community.

Faster broadband access was a priority for many businesses, and take up in the Thames estuary is higher than many other areas.

Rapid take up is, in fact, a cause for concern for members of the forum, as they warned other areas may receive more investment in broadband infrastructure before their area.

Amanda Gee, Chairman of the SME forum and MD of Berkshire Media Group, said: “We were shocked to find that some SMEs report they actually have better connectivity in their homes than in their business spaces.

“We … believe widening access to superfast broadband across the region is vitally important as better access to broadband enables SMEs to create operational efficiencies in the way they work.”

Access to local authority procurement was also high on business leaders’ list, as SMEs called for increased availability to public sector contracts.

The South East Business Portal is the main information point for contract opportunities, however joint procurement schemes are not advertised through this platform, and these initiatives require greater visibility to the SME community.

Ms Gee continued: “The LEP’s goal is to level the playing field so that SMEs can compete on a more equal footing with larger organisations.

“This means providing SMEs with the same advantages such as better access to finance to stimulate growth, and the ability to bid more effectively for local authority procurement projects, especially in the health care sector.”

The SME forum said it would focus on green initiatives and look at market opportunities in the health care sector as it moves forward.

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