Software manufacturer Pegasus today announced it is handing out free accountancy software to the first 5,000 small businesses that apply.

The free Pegasus Capital Accounting software campaign, worth around £400, is part of the company's long-term plan to create an online SME co-operative.

"We want to build a community of small businesses," said Andy West, chief operating officer at Pegasus. "The best way we can do this is by getting them on board to experience the real benefits it brings."

Of course, the company also wants to raise its brand profile among the SME market.

Users of the Capital software will be able access a web-based discussion forum, allowing them to receive additional training and support via the online community. There will also be an advice section from accountants, specialists and Pegasus representatives.

"Creating communities within business sectors is extremely importance not only to communication but also from a research and development point of view," said a spokesman at the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry).