Nothing attracts Local Government like a big pot of money to bid for. No - I’m not knocking Local Government. That used to be my world for 23 years and personally I had a lot of success (and fun) bidding. These days there are armies of consultants (some good, some bad) all too willing to help your bid. Competitive funding seems to be disappearing as a policy of government but BDUK seems to have given it an interesting twist.
BDUK aims to develop Britain into the best Superfast Broadband service in Europe by 2015. The next funding round is circa £50m and it is seeking Bidders with projects ‘ready to go’. For most, this will mean they are not in a position to bid. Essential requirements include a Broadband Plan (mapping Black, Grey and White areas), Action Plans, Community engagement (demand), Procurement Strategy etc and matched funding. The BDUK money is not to help you get to this in position nor is it to fund project management etc. The funding is purely for infrastructure.
Still interested? Well, the timescales are very short (18th April for final Spring round bids) but BDUK also has stated that it is looking for expressions of interest from parties (Local Authorities and LEPS) for future funding (29th April). Future funding will not be competitive but a continuous process working with bidders to develop proposals. So, the funding is there for broadband infrastructure projects but to access it you must first develop your overall broadband strategy and, significantly, find match funding.
Again BDUK threw a surprise by suggesting that in looking for innovative bids it would consider co-funding from Public Sector Network Projects. In such cases there would have to be innovation to drive up availability of services on-line. Joint funding with other public sector partners – education and health – would also be encouraged. So, an interesting new dimension to your planning for PSN. The need to link in to your Broadband Strategy if you want to attract BDUK funding? Bet you weren't expecting that one!
Link to BDUK Bidding Guidance, Plan Template and Expression of Interest: http://www.culture.gov.uk/publications/7906.aspx