A specialist carpentry business in the west of Scotland is hoping to gain access to global markets with the help of Paisley University's new e-business centre.
Paisley has set up the centre with support from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and Scottish Enterprise Renfrewshire, offering small and medium-sized enterprises a mix of technical and business support, underpinned by academic and "skills upgrade" courses.
Ian Cook, general manager of Barrhead company Piers Kettlewell, which specialises in reproductions of furniture created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is among the first students on a 15-week course on web technology. Mr Cook has been studying website design and expects that a company website will be particularly useful in winning attention from the lucrative Japanese market.
"We regard learning about e-business very much as a tool for the future. A website will allow us to show the products that we make at the touch of a button anywhere in the world," he said.
Paisley's Innovation Challenge programme helps SMEs in the west of Scotland to draw up an e-business plan. Paisley also offers in-depth day-release training for staff through industry-recognised courses.
Microsoft has designated Paisley an academic professional development centre, allowing it to offer Microsoft courses and training to staff and students from any Scottish educational institution.
Businesspeople can attend free hands-on workshops to introduce them to the benefits of e-commerce.
Paisley is also running 12-week training courses to help the unemployed develop computing skills.