Highland UK Shared Prosperity Fund

Digital Grant

Temporary pause to Digital Grant scheme

Since the Digital and Energy Grants scheme was launched in November 2023, there has been a high volume of applications. Due to such a positive take up, and to ensure that the successful applications can be covered within the available budget, the scheme is currently paused, with the intention of reopening the scheme as soon as additional funding becomes available.

The aim of the Digital Grant, introduced by Highland Council within the UKSPF Investment Plan for Highland, is to develop small organisations located and operating within the region. This will provide financial support to assist them with the development and implementation of new digital systems which will improve business performance and enable growth.

A grant of 80% of the total project costs is available to support eligible expenditure. The maximum grant amount is £5,000 with a minimum of £1,500 (this requires an expenditure of £1,875) towards an eligible project.

The Grant support is towards introducing new digital capabilities to a business to achieve the following digital business improvement projects:

  • reducing (non-staff) operational costs
  • increasing profit margin
  • moving business online
  • improving market share
  • increasing revenues
  • improving cyber security
  • enable employment to be safeguarded or increased

Applications must clearly demonstrate how the digital project will improve performance and safeguard or increase employment.

Eligible projects

Support towards the costs of introducing new digital capabilities to a business to achieve the following digital business improvement projects:

  • enhance digital skills of workforce necessitating external training
  • purchase of new software, ICT, or digital communications, hardware related to the project
  • developing an online booking/ticketing system or a new Ecommerce website
  • developing an app for service or sales (through an external contractor)
  • building or re-development of websites incorporating interactive functionality

Projects that will not be funded include:

  • initiatives which reduce employment in the business
  • renewal of existing product or software licences, or minor updates to existing products (such as a software version update)
  • statutory costs, property development or the purchase of stock
  • any advertising costs (digital marketing)
  • software, hardware rental or charges (unless paying for new installation and support contract with minimum 12 months in advance), for platforms, hosting, or online content management
  • hardware that is a replacement to existing hardware (wear and tear)
  • consumable items (such as toner or ink printer cartridges)
  • products acquired through a third party not licensed to the applicant for its own use

Eligible organisations

The following is a brief summary of eligibility criteria for applicants:

  • organisations must be headquartered, located in and trading in the Highland area, from premises owned by the applicant or for which there is a legally constituted signed lease, rental, or licence agreement in place
  • trading for a minimum of 6 months - business must have been receiving sales
  • organisations must have a dedicated business bank account
  • individuals must be a UK resident with the right to work in the UK
  • the business must meet the definition of an independent small enterprise with under 50 employees world-wide
  • most industry sectors are eligible for consideration
  • only one grant per business
  • no personal or business debt to the council (for example Council Tax or Business rate arrears)
  • must operate on a full-time basis
  • community groups, not for profit organisations, voluntary or charitable organisations cannot apply for this grant

How to apply

Make sure you have the following evidence ready:

  • proof of identity (for example: a Drivers licence, Passport, or Birth Certificate) or proof of right to live and work in the UK (this should include the terms and any restrictions on ability to establish a business)
  • proof of address (such as a Council Tax or utility bill)
  • a bank statement dated within 3 months
  • proof of your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • a digital investment quote or offer

Upon receipt of a complete application, a Council officer will review the application against the assessment criteria and if successful, a formal offer of grant will be made.

After you have received your grant offer you will have three months to complete your digital project and submit evidence of your grant spend. Once the evidence is verified, you will receive your grant payment.

Claims process

Successful applicants will be required to submit evidence of all payments in relation to the project. Payments made in cash cannot be included in any claim. All grant payments will be made retrospectively, at the successful conclusion of the project phases. Where projects are not fully completed, claims will not be processed, and no grant payments will be made with funding already released due for repayment.

We anticipate a high level of interest in the fund and applications will be processed in chronological order. Please be patient - we will try and process applications as quickly as we can. This could take up to 15 working days.

Please read the guidance notes before applying. If you need further advice on how to apply, please send an email to businessgrants@highland.gov.uk.

If there is particular support that you require please contact Business Gateway Highland who may be able to advise.

Guidance notes