Google has joined forces with several major firms, including BT and PayPal, to launch a new initiative designed to provide free web sites with .co.uk domain suffixes.
The Getting British Business Online (GBBO) campaign seeks to help the 1.5 million UK companies that do not have a web site, despite the UK being one of the most advanced digital economies with 40 million online citizens.
Google said that many businesses have not set up any form of web site or online presence because they perceive it as complicated and costly, while others do not see the benefits of moving online.
The GBBO will allow businesses to set up a web site in 15 minutes by choosing from a number of templates and being included in Google's search index.
Matt Brittin, Google's UK managing director, argued that consumers increasingly turn to the web to find information about local businesses and services, and that the time is right for small businesses to embrace the internet more fully.
"We hope that a free and easy-to-create web site will give small businesses the boost they need to get up and running online and reach new customers in new markets," he said.
BT will provide free advice and phone support to help companies create an effective online presence, while PayPal will enable businesses with a GBBO web site to turn the site in to an e-commerce platform.
Additionally, an IT qualification has been developed by e-skills UK called the ITQ for Doing Business Online that will allow organisations to develop the skills and confidence necessary to get online and become more competitive.
The project has received widespread backing. Business secretary Lord Mandelson said that it is vital to encourage businesses to take advantage of the opportunities the internet offers, especially as the economy starts to recover.
"GBBO brings together valuable support to set up a web site, and training to make the most of the internet. I wish it every success," he said.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago