Britain’s latest small business portal has gone live., a joint venture between ScottishPower and The Royal Bank of Scotland, is targeted at the UK's 3.6 million small and medium sized businesses.

The £70 million investment was announced earlier this year and claims to suit the needs of firms with no web experience as well as those that are already using the web but have not had the time to establish their own commercial e-presence.

Work24 features web site building facilities and tools to monitor visits and orders to a company’s web site.

It also allows small firms to take advantage of special offers exclusive to Work24 and purchase office products and services online, including office stationery, computer hardware and software, in addition to sorting out travel arrangements.

Conventional portal features, including the ability to access the latest news headlines on specialist business topics such as business ownership and management, procurement, sales and commerce.

The new portal also sports online learning tools, allowing visitors to conduct meetings with colleagues, suppliers and customers online. Other tools include e-mail facilities, document storage, calendar and task management, group communications and SMS text messaging.

Visitors can network with other small businesses through the member’s directory allowing them to promote their products and services to each other. Free advertising is available for member companies.

Work24 will have its work cut out in the coming months as competition in the small business portal arena intensifies. All eyes are on Microsoft, which launches its own offering in the form of bCentral in November.