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Digital Innovation for Growth (DIfG)

Get free digital support for your business

Digital Innovation for Growth (DIfG) is a free service to help your SME make the most of digital technology — so you can grow your business, improve your products, maximise efficiency and adopt new ways of working. 

It is part-financed by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

It links your organisation with business experts from Sheffield Hallam University, and state-of-the-art design, prototyping and testing facilities at DMC 02 at Barnsley’s Digital Campus – The Seam.

The programme is available for SMEs across the Sheffield City Region, as well as Chesterfield, North-East Derbyshire, Derbyshire Dales, Bolsover and Bassetlaw.

Logo of the Northern PowerhouseLogo of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Logo of the European Union Regional Development Fund Logo for Barnsley digital media centre

Free consultancy and facilities

Our academic experts and business consultants can help you with techniques and processes such as:

  • smart technologies —digital systems which monitor, learn and adapt to their environment
  • system level electronic design and prototyping — a blend of off the shelf system components and custom designed circuitry
  • data acquisition, monitoring and analysis — sensor technologies inside your system to optimise processes and maintenance
  • systems integration —increase performance, efficiency and quality whilst reducing cost
  • artificial intelligence – mirroring human skills and capabilities with technology
  • formal analysis — employing mathematical tools for analysis and design
  • data analytics — understanding and discovering more large and diverse data sets
  • networks and cyber security — ensuring safe, secure and reliable communication and information exchange
  • interaction design — ensuring that systems are well designed for their users’ needs and experiences
  • embedded systems — designing dedicated systems inter-operating with and controlling devices and sensors
  • software engineering — future proofing the design, development and integrity of software.
  • mixed reality — combining virtual and the real in shared online virtual worlds.

If eligible, you’ll receive support from a Digital Innovation Adviser to help you find the right solution for your business. 

State Aid and Brexit

Digital Innovation for Growth (DIfG) is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and support provided by the programme is classified as State Aid, delivered through De Minimis (EC regulation No 1407/2013).

The ERDF programme is covered by Article 138 of the Withdrawal Agreement. This requires that the ERDF programme continues to be delivered in accordance with all applicable EU law for the remainder of the programme. This means the ERDF requirements regarding state aid remain exactly as before the UK left the EU.

However, as of the 1 January 2021, projects must take into account potential cumulation with UK subsidies which fall beneath the applicable threshold (expressed as Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)) of the new UK subsidy control regime (as set out under Article 3.2(4) of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (“TCA”), Chapter 3 (Subsidy Control)).

The total of De Minimis Aid and Special Drawing Rights should not exceed €200,000 as set out in Article 5 of the de minimis regulation.

For example, a company received:

  • €100,000 of de minimis aid in 2019
  • €50,000 of de minimis aid in 2020
  • €25,000 of aid under the SDR system

It has received €175,000 of cumulated aid and may receive no more than €25,000 of de minimis aid within the limit of €200,000 of de minimis aid in three years.

Beneficiary SMEs must fully complete DIfG Form 1 with details of state aid received in the last 3 years to allow assessment of eligibility, taking into account previous de minimis aid and subsidies considered SDRs, before the support commences.  You may wish to seek your own expert advice on this.

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