New funding has been announced to create “digital communities” among rural firms in Scotland.
Under the Smart Villages Scotland pilot scheme, £100,000 of Scottish Government cash will go to networking events and online mentoring, partnering young entrepreneurs with older business owners to exchange skills.
Places on the north-east coast look likely to be among the first to benefit from the project, aimed at expanding rural businesses and improving connections with customers.
A map on the scheme’s website shows Smart Village projects as “coming soon” to coastal villages between Buckie and Banff.
Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said the new funding had the potential to “provide a range of employment opportunities for local residents”.
She added: “The Smart Villages Scotland project will prioritise digital upskilling and create a network of enterprise ‘hotspots’ throughout rural Scotland.”
The scheme is being run by Coupar Angus-based GrowBiz, whose chief executive Jackie Brierton said: “Over the past three years, GrowBiz has worked with more than 1,000 rural entrepreneurs in Perthshire.
“This pilot project will enable us to extend our successful peer learning, mentoring and networking approach to enterprises in other parts of rural Scotland.
“The project will work with local businesses and communities, increasing the use of digital applications.”