Swansea University is encouraging the area's business community to embrace information technology by linking 450 small businesses to the Internet.
The university is lead partner in a Pounds 4 million project with Pounds 1.2 million European Union funding that will offer firms free Internet access for three years from April.
"Companies only need a PC and a modem. The rest will be provided by our consortium," said Andrew Green, the project co-ordinator and Swansea's director of library and information services.
Members include CableTel, which will provide the physical link, and Internet provider CymruNet, which is based at the University's On Campus Innovation Centre. Each small business will receive a free Internet connection, an email address and entry in the project directory, and a web site designed by the university.
This will give businesses access to relevant online information, such as data about marketing and grant aid.
As the project progresses Mr Green hopes that additional material not currently available to the public such as the West Wales Tec's employers database will be added to the system.
Companies will be given training in order to derive maximum benefits from the technology. The university is recruiting seven or eight new staff to oversee the project and provide the assistance that businesses will need. "We hope that interest in information technology will snowball as a result of this project," Mr Green said. "It is the future, and local businesses need to be familiar with it."
The initiative is part of Swansea's on-going commitment to its local community. The idea for the project came from the Swansea Bay Information Society Group, the partnership of public and private sector organisations keen to see the South West Wales Information Gateway in action.
By the time the project is completed the expectation is the participating companies will use the Internet to communicate with suppliers and customers, and to market their products worldwide.