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New £20 million digital fund launched to help SMEs bounce back from COVID-19

A Sunderland-based business is urging local companies to pivot their operations and make the most of a new £20 million fund launched to help the economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

Consult and Design, based in Sunderland Software Centre, provides websites, apps and other digital projects that can help businesses adapt.

Now, its services are being made available to North East companies through new grant funding for web projects.

David Van der Velde, managing director of Consult and Design, said: “COVID-19 has seen the biggest disruption to the British economy outside of wartime, but it’s also given many organisations the impetus they need to improve their digital business practices.

“Throughout lockdown and beyond, Consult and Design has been helping organisations to adapt quickly to the new circumstances and find new and better ways to connect people with technology, delivering services like digital recovery audits and reviews, design and branding, as well as website and app development.”

The company’s recent projects include supporting Little Inventors to deliver its unique brand of creative education online, as well as assisting charity ManHealth to set up its Chat and Connect service, which supports men struggling with their mental health.

The new £20 million grant funding package means that the company can support many more SMEs.

David added: “We’re delighted that this new grant will allow businesses that may not otherwise be able to tap into our services to reach out and get the support they need to overcome what has been a really challenging time for a whole host of different sectors.

“We know that digital is a fantastic route to both market businesses and, increasingly, to convert sales with the growth of online retail, so we hope that this grant will encourage people to embrace new and more innovative ways of reaching their customers, and emerge from the pandemic in the best possible position.”