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Google to open first UK 'digital garage' to fix small firms' web problems

Saturday, March 14, 2015 - 07:54
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Google on Friday launched its first "digital garage", a multi-million pound project it said would help 200,000 small British businesses harness the Internet to grow.

[LEEDS] Google on Friday launched its first "digital garage", a multi-million pound project it said would help 200,000 small British businesses harness the Internet to grow.

The US company, which has been under fire in Europe for its dominance in search and other digital services, said last month it would train 1 million Europeans in Internet skills by 2016, including building an online hub to support small enterprises.

Its first "garage" - a drop-in centre that will advise on building a mobile website, developing e-commerce and optimising internet search rankings - will open in the northern English city of Leeds on March 30 for six months, before moving to the next of five British cities in total.

Eileen Naughton, Google's managing director of UK and Ireland, said less than 30 per cent of small businesses had an effective online presence, and Google wanted to "jump start" the other 70 per cent.

"We understand (small businesses) don't have the benefit of large IT tech infrastructure and development, and they need our assistance in this area disproportionately more than a large business would," she said in an interview.

"We've never set up an outpost in a city - in a garage - as we have here in Leeds, and offered these services openly. For us, it's an exciting experiment."

REUTERS