Digital plan targets online business

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte will today launch the Government’s National Digital Strategy which will place a strong emphasis on encouraging small firms to maximise their potential of doing business online.

The new strategy sets a target of getting 10,000 SMEs to develop an online presence for the first time by the end of 2014. A further 2,000 small firms will benefit over the next two years from a “trade online” voucher scheme which is being introduced on a pilot scheme in Dublin this autumn.

Each participating firm can receive up to €2,500 in matching funds which can be redeemed against the cost of establishing an online trading presence in a scheme being overseen by city and county enterprise boards.

The digital economy currently contributes 4.4% to Ireland’s GDP but is growing at 16% per annum — a rate 10 times faster than the economy as a whole. It also supports almost 95,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

Speaking in advance of today’s launch, Mr Rabbitte said the four key components of the strategy were the improvement of cross-government measures, the promotion of online trading and entrepreneurship, greater citizen engagement and digital education and learning.

Mr Rabbitte said there was a disappointing level of business being conducted online by Irish firms with just 23% making use of the internet to transact business — a figure equating to around 30,000 SMEs.

He also noted that about 70% of the €3.7 billion spent by Irish consumers online last year goes abroad.

For more information on the digital strategy see www.dcenr.gov.ie/nds


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