Frequently asked questions about the Digital Economy Response Program (DER3)

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Is there a cost to participating in this program?

The program is a no cost, no obligation program. The primary services of the program are free, and anyone can sign up. For small-medium sized businesses (individuals and non-profits) there's a lot we can offer at no cost. However, if needed, engagements with digital service providers or consultants (as independent businesses) will have various costs depending on the scope of your requirements. I.e., we can tell you what digital tools or platforms may fit for your business, and in many cases we can tell you how to use them (DIY) but we can’t build your website for you. If/when you need to hire someone we can also offer advice to ensure you’re considering the right things in the right order. We can review your needs more specifically when you apply to the program.

Is this program just a loss-leader for other fee-based services.

No. Innovation Island is a non-profit industry association. We’ve partnered with Island Coastal Economic Trust and Western Economic Diversification so that transfer critical business and technology skills and services to small-medium sized businesses (individuals and non-profits) that want to consider entering or expanding in the digital economy as a way to help their business manage virtual operations, or perhaps prosper in the post-COVID economy. 

Do I need to be a “digital economy” business?

No. This program is open to any kind of business with any level of technology integration. If you are in the tourism industry please also see the Vancouver Island Coastal Tourism Resiliency Program.

Do I need to be already online with a website to apply for the program?

No, any business can apply regardless if you have an existing online presence or not.

What does the “digital economy” actually mean?

Wikipedia considers the digital economy as anything that’s based on using digital computing technologies within the core of your business. We used to call it the "Internet Economy" but increasingly the digital economy is intertwined with the traditional economy, and that’s what this program is all about. Digital technology includes digital tools a business may use throughout its business such as production, operations, finance, HR, training, sales and/or marketing.

What does the "3" in DER3 stand for?

When we first launched the program the 3 R's stood for "Rapid, Response, Recovery" Program. Now we have moved into a new phase, we have done a slight rebrand to "Restart, Recover, Reimagine" as we feel it's more fitting. We think the other 3 R’s are important too ~ reduce, reuse and recycle!

I don't know anything about technology and don't even know where to start, but my business is struggling. Can you help?

Yes, we can help. After you complete the application form we will do an initial assessment of what we think you might want to consider and we will then contact you to learn more and see what’s possible. We work with you one step at a time to move you further along the path to digital transformation.

What if I’m just starting my business [in these difficult times] do I still qualify for this program?

Yes! Some of the biggest businesses of our time started in recession; Google and Facebook started during the dotcom crash and Uber and Airbnb started during the 2008 financial crisis. If you have what it takes, with a big vision or just a great small business idea, now might be a great time to start!

What kind of business or technical advice can you provide?

Try us! Our core team has over 100-years combined expertise in both business and the digital economy and with the help of our team we’re confident that we can provide solid advice on almost any topic. We also can direct questions to various industry partners or other agencies (subject matter experts and digital service providers).

Does this program include any digital tools or computer skills training? My staff has never worked from home before.

We have a wide variety of resources, guides, and best-practices for getting things done in the digital economy, which we can utilize to help you figure things out. We don’t offer skills training courses but we can point you in the right direction for that too.

How much time do I need to commit to this program? How much time are you offering to help me?

Your time commitments depend on you, and how much time you invest toward taking action on the solutions that we will provide you with. Our time commitments to your needs will depend on our assessments of your issues or challenges. If we can’t help you with implementing the actions we recommend then we will make suggestions on who can.

What if I don’t know the answers to some of the questions on the application form?

No problem, please just skip anything that you don’t know or are not comfortable sharing.

How will meetings take place in light of COVID physical distancing regulations?

All meetings will be over the phone, online video, or via email Q&A ~ whatever works for you.

I’m a digital services professional and/or business owner, Subject Matter Expert why should I sign up with this program?

There are many small-medium sized businesses who need help in our region and some of them don’t know where to turn. We want to be able to connect you to those businesses to deliver contracted services that are beyond what we are providing directly within this program. Perhaps you’ll build new customer relationships that you wouldn’t have otherwise!

My community has unreliable connectivity. Can you help us get better connected, so we can participate in the digital economy?

Unfortunately this program can’t help with core infrastructure. However, please check out the Connected Coast project or other resources dealing with Connectivity in B.C.

How long will this program last?

Like with many COVID crisis response programs we are monitoring things on a weekly basis; however, this program will run at least until December 2020.

Please contact us with any questions that we have not covered here.

Thank you and take care.