Westmeath companies are being invited to apply for a website development fund offering €10,000 worth of support to 10 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, the Optimise Fund was established in 2011 to mark the tenth anniversary of IEDR and raise awareness of the extent to which small businesses in Ireland remain slow to harness the revenue potential of the internet.
Open to owners of Irish SMEs and micro-businesses with a .ie website, the Optimise Fund will provide 10 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 per cent of Irish businesses had a website by 2009, compared with 40 per cent in 2000. Of the 66 per cent, only 21 per cent had any e-commerce capability, a marginal increase of just 3 per cent since 2000. Since the Domain Name Industry Report was published (November 2010 ), a major study revealed increasing consumer confidence and activity online, with Irish shoppers spending almost €3 billion on e-commerce websites. 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 10 recipients will be selected by a judging panel independent of IEDR comprising industry and business leaders, with the final recipients announced later this year.
Last year’s Optimise recipients included the Dublin-based fashion label, www.kateandava.ie, who developed an online catalogue and new social media strategies to drive customers to their website, while the National Leprechaun Museum www.leprechaunmuseum.ie worked to develop an e-commerce strategy including an online shop to facilitate ticket sales. Kart racing circuit Whiteriver Park’s www.whiteriver.ie revamped website benefited from a new online booking engine to accept advance payments for track time and gift vouchers.