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How SMEs can benefit from £6.4 million AI training fund

How SMEs can benefit from £6.4 million AI training fund

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has recently introduced a vital initiative targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Professional Business Services sector.

This scheme, the Flexible AI Upskilling Fund, commits £6.4 million to bridge the skills gap by facilitating AI training.

The funding is a substantial boost for SMEs, offering to cover up to 50 per cent of training costs associated with developing, deploying and utilising AI technologies.

The primary goal of the funding is to enhance the AI capabilities of SME employees, significantly boosting their productivity and competitive edge in the market.

What are the key objectives of the scheme?

Research indicates that the slow adoption of AI technologies among UK businesses, particularly SMEs, is often due to the lack of investment in relevant skills.

To address this issue, the AI training funds specifically target several critical areas to support SMEs:

  • Encouraging AI training investment: Subsidises 50 per cent of the training costs, making AI more accessible for SMEs.
  • Bridging the AI skills gap: Addresses the shortage of AI skills in the UK workforce, which is especially pertinent for SMEs that might not have the time or resources to learn new technologies.
  • Enhancing business productivity: Evaluates how AI training can improve efficiency and outcomes, helping SMEs to automate tasks and focus on growth.

As AI continues to transform industries, being proactive in upskilling your employees will ensure that your business remains competitive and future-ready.

Engaging an accountant can help you identify gaps and opportunities for enhancing your business’s efficiency and automation, as well as advising on various funding applications.

Funding details

The total grant funding of £6.4 million will be available during the financial year from April 2024 to March 2025.

Businesses must complete their training and submit all necessary invoices for reimbursement by February 2025.

The amount of funding available is contingent on the size of the business. There is a matching requirement, meaning the business must contribute an equal amount to the grant, effectively doubling the potential investment in training.

To find out your business’s eligibility, you can find the criteria outlined here.

How can an accountant help?

If you wish to apply for the Flexible AI Upskilling Fund, an accountant can help tailor your application to meet the unique requirements.

They can oversee the preparation of all necessary financial documentation, assist in calculating the matching funds you will need to provide, and ensure that your application is compliant with the funding rules.

Their expertise not only increases the likelihood of securing the grant but also ensures that the process is smooth and compliant.

Do you need advice on applying for the Flexible AI Upskilling Fund? Get in touch with our expert team today.

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