Welsh Government
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EU-backed project helps business to ACT online

Deputy Minister for European Programes, Alun Davies, has yesterday officially launch an EU-backed initiative helping small businesses in Wales and Ireland to exploit social media to boost their growth and drive forward their competitiveness.

The ACT project (Advanced Communication Technologies) will assist small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across West Wales and South East Ireland to understand social media and take advantage of opportunities it can offer for online business growth.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU's Ireland/Wales Cross Border Programme, the project is led by the South-East Regional Authority (SERA) alongside Carlow County Enterprise Board in Ireland. In Wales it is delivered by Swansea Metropolitan and University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Speaking at the launch in Machynys, Llanelli, Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, said:

"Supporting small businesses and helping them to use digital technologies to innovate and grow is a key priority for the Welsh Government and is part of our Digital Wales agenda.”

“Collaborative initiatives such as ACT demonstrate how we can increase opportunities for SMEs and micro-enterprises to capitalise on digital technologies allowing them to expand and flourish."

As part of the initiative ACT will offer advice and expertise to help businesses grow online via social media, web design and online strategies. Events and workshops will also be held aimed at all levels, from beginner to advanced, and will encompass the world of social media marketing and explain why it’s key for business development.

Professor Medwin Hughes, Swansea Met and University of Wales Trinity Saint David Vice-Chancellor, said:

“One of the priorities of the University is to help drive forward the Welsh economy and the ACT project is one such example of how we will achieve this.

“There is a strong relationship between Wales and our Celtic cousins in Ireland. This collaboration across the Irish Sea will allow both regions to become competitive in a global market which, in turn, will improve the economic outlook for both nations.”

During the launch four companies will take part in a panel discussion, chaired by Warren Fauvel from the Culture Group, regarding their experience using online social media.

One of those involved is Pembrokeshire musician, Harry Keyworth, who received support from ACT. Through the project, the singer songwriter was able to establish an online presence via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, to promote his music. Harry has been so successful in building a fanbase he is now able to provide followers with updates on gigs which are taking place at venues across the UK, including the 02 Arena.

His raised profile and growing awareness of his music has also helped lead to a record deal. His debut EP, Flux, is now available on i-tunes and his first music video received thousands of viewings on YouTube.

Speaking at the ACT launch, he said:

“Without becoming so familiar with these networking sites it's almost impossible to get noticed. Traditional ways of finding work like posting in newspapers, and even applications online, are becoming obsolete. ACT helped me become familiar with a range of networks which gave me the opportunity to present myself in a more positive and personable way, generating a bigger impression and helping me find the right people to be around in order to best facilitate my goals.”

Assistant Director Michael Maroney of the South-East Regional Authority said:

“We are pleased to continue a strong working relationship with our Welsh partners, whom we have worked so successfully with on the CIME Interreg project, and look forward to an equally productive partnership in supporting SMEs develop more effective social media during the ACT Project.”

The Ireland Wales Cross Border programme is led by the Southern and Eastern Regional Assembly (SERA) in Ireland in partnership with the Welsh Government. It is supported by the European Regional Development Fund to develop collaborative projects to boost skills, economic growth and protect the environment.

 

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