Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 09.24.36A North East business centre made from metal shipping containers is set to get connected, as part of a Government scheme to improve broadband access.

Sustainable Enterprise Strategies (SES), a social enterprise that promotes and supports all kinds of enterprise, is set to see its Cooperative Centre – one of the two it owns and runs in the North East – better connected, after it successfully applied for a Connection Voucher as part of a recent Government Scheme to improve Broadband Connectivity. SES chose Sunderland IT business Rymote to deliver high-speed wireless access to its office complex.

The centre, which is home to a range of small businesses, applied for a Connection Voucher, a £40m Government initiative to improve broadband connectivity for business, which Sunderland City Council is part of and which was promoted by MAKE it Sunderland..  As well as the fastest wi-fi available, the building will also have access to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which is a new exciting technology.

The entire programme of work is worth more than £50,000 and has been funded completely by the Connection Vouchers scheme, which ran for six months in Sunderland from April to September 2015.

Mark Saddington, director, at SES, said that the programme of work would bring about significant improvements for tenants at the Cooperative Centre.

He said: “SES was set up to nurture and support businesses, and sustainable enterprises really do rely on access to the internet and to fast, efficient and effective technology solutions to enable them to succeed.

“Working with Rymote, we will give our tenants access to superfast wireless connectivity and Bluetooth technology that really is ahead of the curve – something that would have been financially prohibitive without access to Connection Vouchers.  It’s a huge boost for the centre, and another way in which we can support our tenants to achieve more.”

The Broadband Connection Voucher scheme managed by BDUK, allowed businesses to apply for grants of up to £3,000 each to boost their broadband connectivity, but businesses could also apply as a group to connect bigger or more complex premises.  The Cooperative Centre was able to submit a combined bid, that brought together the 17 businesses in the centre, to access the support needed given the unique shape of the building, and the challenges that brings with it.

Al Yong, CEO of Rymote – which specializes in Cisco network technologies – said: “The Cooperative Centre is a unique space, and – being made from shipping containers – it’s not only the ribbed shape, but the material of the building that makes it a challenge to connect.

“The Connection Voucher scheme has made something that would otherwise not be financially viable, possible for a centre with really specific requirements.

“Technically, this is just about the most challenging project possible, but we are looking forward to getting started and to ensuring that tenants in the centre enjoy access to some of the fastest, most reliable internet connectivity possible, as well as new technology that will futureproof the place for many years.”

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This time-limited scheme has acted as a real catalyst to encourage SMEs to think about the business benefits of faster connectivity.

“It has provided a great opportunity for businesses to ensure they’re supported with the best possible infrastructure and connectivity.  Thirty businesses in Sunderland have already been connected through the scheme and are starting to see for themselves the business benefits that superfast broadband can bring, with other companies set to follow in their footsteps shortly.”