Government offers £250,000 to boost broadband in conference venues

Conference centres across the UK can apply for new funding to improve broadband and attract more international business.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a new £250,000 scheme to improve broadband connectivity in event venues, as part of the Tourism Sector Deal and the UK Government’s International Business Events Action Plan.

Conference centres across the UK can apply for funding to improve broadband infrastructure and receive full fibre broadband access to help them attract more international delegates and cope with the predicted growth in international business and leisure visitors. Applicants can apply for funding if they bid for, or plan to bid for, events that attract international delegates. 

DCMS will fund a number of projects with a combined total of £250,000, with the average value per project at approximately £30,000.

Successful applicants will be able to upgrade their existing connectivity to full-fibre broadband which will support faster data speeds and higher usage volumes. Conference venues will be able to offer more interactive content, and organisers can live stream the events to international audiences.

"We want the UK to attract the biggest and best international business events to help grow our economy and encourage trade and investment," said Tourism Minister Rebecca Pow.

"Ensuring our conference facilities can deliver the connectivity facilities organisers want and need is crucial to help achieve this and there is a great deal of scope to expand this area."

Michael Hirst, chair of the Events Industry Board said: "[The funding] is a strong recognition of the importance of helping to support the growth of first-class infrastructure in Britain’s large range of diverse world-class business event facilities. It will help immensely in continuing to present Britain as a leading global destination for business events."

Eligibility criteria

  • Event venue must be in the United Kingdom

  • Event venue must have a capacity of 400+ delegates 

  • Event venue must have bid for at least one international event in the past year, where at least 30% of the total delegates/visitors attending in person were international (non-UK) visitors

  • If the venue has not bid for at least one international event in the past year where at least 30% of the total delegates/visitors attending in person were international (non-UK) visitors, but can demonstrate plans to do so in the next year, they may apply

  • Applicants must confirm that they will cover any shortfall if the final cost differs from the supplier quote that they will provide

  • Applicants must have the capacity to and can confirm preparedness to, stimulate demand locally for the LFFN Gigabit Voucher Scheme

  • The event venue must not have received over €200,000 in De minimis State aid over three fiscal years, following the De minimis Regulation

  • DCMS will not connect buildings that already have access to commercial fibre to the premise i.e where the venue can contact a supplier to make the final connection

In 2017, the UK hosted 592 international association meetings with business visitors making up almost a quarter of the 38 million visits to the UK in 2018. The sector is currently worth £32.6 billion to the UK economy with delegates spending £4.5 billion and more than half returning as leisure visitors. 

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