University of Lincoln, UK
Lincolnshire is a large and sparsely populated region, where almost half of the population lives in a village, hamlet or isolated dwellings. Recent research shows that Lincolnshire is in the bottom 5 regions nationally for innovation. The current local challenge is therefore, one of low take-up and use of broadband-enabled technologies among both local enterprises and communities. For enterprises, this compounds existing low levels of innovation. For residents, it reduces access to key online services and to new ways of communicating. The “Onlincolnshire” initiative, run by Lincolnshire County Council, has piloted a number of Technology Hubs across Lincolnshire to provide access to broadband-enabled technologies to local businesses and communities. The purpose of the hubs was to demonstrate use of technologies such as 3D printers and scanners, CAD equipment, and motion sensor technology, and thereby promote a take-up and use of NGA broadband. Of the five technology hubs originally piloted, those identified as most sustainable in an independent evaluation were the Lincoln and Horncastle hubs. The funding provided by CORA will support these two principal Technology Hubs. A digital ambassador will work across the Lincoln and Horncastle Technology Hubs to provide technical assistance to those visiting the hubs, and outreach into rural communities and businesses. It will be the role of the ambassador to raise the profile of the hubs across the region, and to demonstrate use of new technology in an accessible way.