How To Get A Website Grant In Ireland
The Irish digital economy is 6% of the country’s GDP. This means that consumers spend around €850,000 every hour. Ireland is ranked 7th in the 2019 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) in Europe while it ranks first on the integration of digital technology dimension because of the use of e-commerce by Irish SMEs. Unfortunately, only 69% of SMEs in Ireland have a website while only 32% own an e-commerce website. As a result, most SMEs miss out on the business opportunities presented in the digital sphere as 70% of consumers’ online spending is overseas.
2019 DESI Ireland ranking. Screengrab/ 2019 DESI Country Report
Most businesses who lack an online presence cite lack of resources as the reason for it. They are worried about the cost of website development. However, the coronavirus pandemic has stifled offline business. SMEs will, therefore, have to shift to the digital space if they are to survive the economic aftershocks of the crisis. The good news is that there are grants that can help you create an online presence for your business without digging deep into your own pockets.
Types Of Website Grants Available
The grants are intended to encourage more Irish businesses to move their trade online and expand their digital visibility. The most common website grants available in Ireland include the following;
- The Online Trading Voucher by Local Enterprise Office
- Back to Work Enterprise Allowance by Social Welfare
- COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme by Enterprise Ireland
The Online Trading Voucher is the primary website development grant that can benefit small businesses in Ireland. This article will majorly focus on how the grant can help you establish an online presence that will help grow your business.
1. The Online Trading Voucher by Local Enterprise Office
The Online Trading Voucher grant is an initiative of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) under the National Digital Strategy administered by Local Enterprise Office. The grant aims to encourage more small businesses to trade online. Eligible businesses receive up to €2,500 or up to 90% of the project cost to develop their e-commerce capacity. The grant has been beneficial to over 4,000 businesses since it’s launch in 2014.
Besides the funding, the program also offers training sessions on website development, social media use, digital marketing, and search engine optimization to help businesses make the right decisions with regards to establishing their online brand.
According to the Action Plan For Jobs 2018 report, businesses awarded the grant saw their lead generation shoot up by 81% while sales increased by 21%. Up to 60% of the businesses started exporting for the first time. The funds helped them with business strategic planning. With this grant, you can develop a smart website that guarantees massive ROI conversion rates.
Eligibility for the Online Trading Voucher
Businesses that had already been awarded the grant can still apply for a second voucher if they need to upgrade their website. For businesses applying for the grant for the first time, they will have to meet the following eligibility criteria;
- Have zero or little online presence.
- Have a maximum of 10 employees on its payroll.
- Post a turnover of less than €2m per year.
- The business should have been in operation for at least 6 months.
- Must be in the same locality as the Local Enterprise Office they make their application to.
Trade associations, commercial semi-state companies, charitable companies, and company representation institutions such as Chambers of Commerce are eligible for the grant. IT service providers with the in-house capacity to trade online will also not be eligible. Social entrepreneurship and Not For Profit organizations will only be eligible if they are operating in a commercial domain.
What the Online Trading Voucher can be used for with Salt Marketing
The grant can be used to develop new apps or website for your business or add booking and payment systems to an already existing website. Businesses can also channel the funds towards paying for low-cost online retail platform solutions to help them establish an e-commerce presence. You can use the funds for;
- IT consultations
- Developing or upgrading your business website.
- Purchasing internet-related software.
- Making a one-time payment for online advertising that costs less than 30% of the approved Voucher costs.
- Developing multi-platform webpages or an app for the business.
- Implementing a digital marketing strategy such as social media marketing.
- Skills development and training aimed at establishing and managing an online brand.
However, the approval for the grant must be gained first before incurring any expenses. It is important to note that only third-party costs will be considered and own labour is not an eligible expense under the program. You will also need to have the proper business details on the supplier invoices including Tax and Business Registration details.
Projects that are not qualified for the scheme include;
- Seminars and conferences.
- Projects that go against public policy.
- Duplicate projects which are qualified for assistance from other State Agencies of EU-funded Operational Programmes.
- Deadweight projects that can proceed without the grant.
- Importation and distribution projects.
- Development of brochure websites.
The application process
It is advisable to first get in touch with our team so that they can guide you on the process ahead. You will then have to attend an online seminar by your Local Enterprise Office before completing an application form. The application should be accompanied by a quotation for the website development project including reasons for the choice of web designer you’ve settled on.
The reasons should focus on the return on investment. The Local Enterprise Office is more interested in ROI than in price relevancy so you have no obligation to go for low-quality web development services because of pricing.
2. TAT Back to Work Enterprise Allowance by Social Welfare
If you are in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme, then you can apply for the TAT (Technical Assistance and Training) grant to help with the cost of setting up your business. Social Welfare will award your business a grant of up to €2500, of which you can use up to €500 for website development and related services. The website development costs will be paid directly to the supplier.
The grant is enough to get your business started on establishing its online presence as you build it up. You can get in touch with your jobs facilitator for more information on the grant.
3. COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme by Enterprise Ireland
The Online Retail website grant is for businesses that are categorized as High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs). This refers to businesses mainly with a focus on exportation. The scheme is developed by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) to help retail companies scale up their online capacity. If you are awarded the grant, you will receive the support of up to 80% of the project costs up to a maximum of €40,000. You need to have at least 10 employees in Ireland to qualify for the grant and already have an existing online presence in the form of either a website or social media platforms.
The grant is mainly focused on research on the capabilities of having an online presence and the development and implementation of a digital strategy for domestic and international brand visibility.
The quality of your application will determine whether the authorities accept to give you a grant. You need your application to present the best online business opportunity. That is why you should consult experts who are experienced in the digital marketing sphere to help you come up with a winning proposal. If you have any queries on the application for any of the grants, our highly-experienced team would be glad to be of help. Get in touch with us now.