Website development funding on offer to Offaly companies

Offaly companies are being invited to apply for a website development fund offering €10,000 worth of support to ten companies nationwide.

Offaly companies are being invited to apply for a website development fund offering €10,000 worth of support to ten companies nationwide.

The IE Domain Registry (IEDR), the managed registry for Ireland’s official Internet address .ie, has announced it will extend its €100,000 e-commerce website development fund, called OPTIMISE, for the second year running.

Launched by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, T.D., the OPTIMISE Fund was established in 2011 to mark the 10th anniversary of IEDR and raise awareness of the extent to which small businesses in Ireland remain slow to harness the potential of the Internet.

Open to owners of Irish SMEs and micro-businesses with a .ie website, the OPTIMISE Fund will provide ten recipients with €10,000 worth of consultation, training and e-commerce development support services to begin the process of “optimising” their existing online presence. Central to this will be an upgrade in terms of e-commerce capability and functionality, for example through the incorporation of real-time payments, an online catalogue, order processing or booking facilities, etc.

IEDR’s Domain Name Industry Report revealed that only 66% of Irish businesses had a website by 2009, compared with 40% in 2000. Of the 66%, only 21% had any e-commerce capability, a marginal increase of just 3% since 2000. The study valued Irish e-commerce at €356 million, however evidence points to many purchases being made from UK and US websites in the absence of an Irish option online.

IEDR’s OPTIMISE Fund is open to applications from any organisation classified as an SME or micro-enterprise, which has an existing website hosted online that is accessible to the public and registered with a .ie domain name. Further details and online application forms are available at www.why.ie/optimise. The closing date for applications is May 25. The ten recipients will be selected by a judging panel independent of IEDR comprising industry and business leaders, with the final recipients announced later this year.

Launching IEDR’s OPTIMISE Fund, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD commented, “A key part of the Government’s strategy for jobs and growth is to encourage businesses to adopt innovative business practices to help them survive and grow in these difficult times. Developing an online presence and getting involved in e-commerce are crucial ways in which small businesses can adapt and find new markets, but to date in Ireland we have not made the progress on this that we might have.”