Three Business is launching a new grant scheme worth £150,000 for SMEs in Manchester, with support from Greater Manchester Chambers of Commerce. The grants will equip local SMEs with access to Three’s 5G network – the fastest in Manchester* – as well as a team of Three Business specialists. Businesses can apply to receive one of several 5G Business SIM packages, as well as 5G Business Broadband for two years.

The grant comes in response to new research from Three Business which revealed that better connectivity among Manchester SMEs would contribute an extra £2.2bn a year to the local economy.

With growth front of mind for SMEs, over half (53%) of Manchester businesses said their business could grow faster if they had access to better tech (compared to 43% across the UK). Nearly half (48%) think that their business could be left behind because of it (compared to 39% across the country).

The analysis, conducted in partnership with Censuswide and Development Economics, also found that while retention is crucial to growing a business, two in five (44%) Manchester businesses think they could lose good employees, compared to the UK average of a third (35%) – and are, therefore, looking to improve their connectivity.

The research comes as SMEs explore how to manage the rising cost of doing business, as the vast majority (82%) of SME leaders in Manchester said they find the current economic climate difficult to navigate.

Manchester businesses have identified where extra practical support would be welcomed:

  • Over half (56%) said that better connectivity would ease some of the financial pressures they are facing
  • 47% said that they would welcome connectivity grants as well as guidance on how to get the most out of their connectivity.
  • 48% said they would like support paying bills

Snehal Bhudia, Director of Business Propositions & Go to Market, Three Business said:

“Businesses frequently tell us that great connectivity is one of the biggest enablers of growth, impacting all aspects of running their business – from the experience they can provide to their customers to how happy their employees are and how well they can carry out their jobs. That’s why we’re providing connectivity grants to businesses in Birmingham, so they can focus on doing what they do best and contribute to their local economies.”

Chris Fletcher, Policy Director, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Recent events such as Covid-19 have shown how important digital connectivity is for SMEs. Yet, SMEs suffer from poorer connectivity when compared with their large business counterparts. The implications of this divide are reduced opportunities and the inability of these businesses to develop operational resilience. For SMEs, the barrier to good connectivity is not just availability but also affordability. The huge growth in hybrid working, online meetings and ecommerce that we’ve seen over the last couple of years means that having good connectivity is vital for local companies.

“We’re delighted to be supporting Three UK with this new scheme as connectivity is a big concern for Greater Manchester businesses. Businesses will now be able to grow and take advantage of the new opportunities that are available if the tech they’re using isn’t slowing them down.”

3RiO Group, a facilities management business in Manchester, said:

“Connectivity is key for all businesses, and the right infrastructure is critical, especially for those focusing on growth. Three has provided us with a dedicated, forward-thinking communications solution, allowing us to support our customers and collaborate effectively. The combination of the flexibility of Three’s offer in addition to their reliable networks has meant that Three’s Business Broadband/Adapt service has made the perfect partner for us.”

To find out more about the grants and what’s on offer visit here. To apply for Three UK’s connectivity grant visit here.