A NEW £4M programme is designed to help small County Durham businesses thrive in a digital world.

Digital Drive County Durham will also help them become more resilient and improve their productivity through funding and practical support to make better use of digital technology.

Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, has appointed business services company BE Group to deliver the three-year programme. Companies are being encouraged to register their interest now.

Sarah Slaven, business development director of Business Durham, said: "A great deal is being invested in the infrastructure at the moment, providing super-speed fibre broadband to businesses and residents across the county.

"With its vast experience and reputation, BE Group will work with businesses throughout County Durham to help them make the most of digital technology in order to succeed and grow. It’s a fantastic opportunity which has not been available in the county before."

Nicki Clark, chief executive of Seaham-based BE Group, said: "We’re really excited about this project. It has huge potential to make a tremendous and long-term difference to businesses in the area.

"Durham is working hard to put the infrastructure in place so businesses have great connectivity but that’s only part of the solution. It’s proven that businesses that use digital technology are more efficient and more resilient which can only be a good thing."

The programme will be officially launched at an event at Ramside Hall, Durham, on January 30, but businesses can register their interest now by emailing info@digitaldrivedurham.co.uk. Alternatively they can visit digitaldrivedurham.co.uk or follow @DigiDriveDurham on Twitter for updates.