NEWPORT could become home to the first ‘digital’ Business Improvement District in the UK under proposals tabled by the city council.

An application has been made for a share of £270,000 to explore the project’s feasibility after the Welsh Government invited local authorities to submit themed BID ideas.

BIDs are defined areas where businesses are charged a levy which is used to fund projects that will benefit the local economy.

Consultancy over the proposed BID has now been put out to tender, with the role open to individuals or consortiums.

The consultant is expected to support the Newport Economic Network, a group made up of representatives from several sectors tasked with finding ways to regenerate the city.

The council expect the contract to be awarded in early September.

A spokeswoman said: “Sustainable growth in the local economy is a key objective in the council’s new corporate plan.

“The grant sought from the Welsh Government will be used to establish local partnerships and assist stakeholders to develop the concept for what would likely be the first Digital BID in the UK.”

By 2022, the council wants to create a ‘digital ecosystem’ which will lead to the growth of Newport’s digital economy.

Almost £40 million has already been invested in establishing an IQE compound semiconductor factory in Newport, with the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal aiming to create the world’s first semiconductor cluster in Newport.

IQE's current base of operations in St Mellons

The National Cyber Security Academy is headquartered at the Newport campus of the University of South Wales, while Cardiff University’s National Software Academy is also based in the city.

The Alacrity Foundation also provides 12-month business training programmes to graduates hoping to establish their own tech start-ups.

Newport is already home to one of 12 BIDs in Wales – the Newport Now BID, which represents more than 500 businesses within the city centre.

Kevin Ward, manager of the BID, has welcomed the digital BID proposals and believes there will be no competition between the two schemes.

“The digital BID is sector-led rather than focusing on a geographical area,” said Mr Ward.

“With Newport gearing towards becoming a tech hub, it probably makes sense.”

Manager of Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) Kevin WardManager of Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) Kevin Ward

The council spokeswoman added: “Businesses operating digital technology will likely present very different needs, aspirations and opportunities to those based in the city centre, which are primarily retail, office-based or food and beverage businesses.”