The UK is already considered to have one of the most vibrant start-up sectors in Europe – and it’s only set to grow as entrepreneurs leap into the burgeoning fields created by new technology.
But, of course, there are start-ups in all sectors, not just the digital ones. A start-up company is typically defined as new, fast-growing, and innovative – and the city has many.
But where do you start if you want to start a business – and how do you grow it? Well, from finance to business planning to office accommodation, there are companies and organisations out there ready to help. Here is a selection of some of the best in the South West.
Business Investment for Growth (BIG2)
The new manager of a European funding programme believes the scheme offers a strong, viable alternative for Cornwall-based businesses including start-ups looking to fund their next phase of growth. Anna Staevska has joined Cornwall Development Company to lead the Business Investment for Growth (BIG2) programme after a career in the private sector.
Anna Staevska, BIG2 programmer manager and Bena Treleaven, ISO Spaces co-founder and managing director
Anna said: “Since joining the BIG2 team I have focused on making the process as business friendly as possible. Following feedback, we’ve worked hard as a team to improve the process of applying, especially for start-ups. Activities are focused at supporting Cornish SMEs by offering co-investment solutions to improve productivity, extend their national and international trade and create new jobs. We want businesses to come forward and take advantage of the funding support and help boost Cornwall’s economy.”
The BIG2 programme aims to help all eligible businesses with grants targeted to their size and growth stage. In particular, it has just introduced a fast track application to support start-ups who want a grant of between £2,500 and £7,500. Grants continue to be available for established SMEs at a higher value.
One Cornish business that has benefited from the programme is shipping container conversion specialist, ISO Spaces. The Truro-based business approached BIG2 for funding which enabled the company to win an order to deliver 88 social housing units to a London borough council to support homeless people. ISO Spaces used the grant to invest in casters to allow their containers to be moved easily around the company’s factory.
Ben Treleaven, co-founder and managing director of ISO Spaces, said: “The casters lock into the bottom of the containers and make moving them from station to station much easier. It means that we can be more efficient. The BIG2 funding has been a catalyst for our growth and we have been able to show that a Cornish business can provide innovative solutions to real problems.”
BIG2 is delivered by Cornwall Development Company and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It aims to support 200 businesses in Cornwall with growth projects and create 360 jobs by 2019. For more information and to start the application process, click here to visit the website.
There is no doubt that embarking on finding your first professional premises is a difficult task and there is a lot to consider. Location, cost, size of space and length of contract will all be high on the list, and there are many variable factors that will influence these decisions. The key is to ensure that you are prepared – as far as you can be – for the ebbs and flows that come with being a small business and take workspace from a provider that will facilitate you starting your business – and then help it to grow.
Regus Express Plymouth is located in Drake Circus shopping centre (Image: Penny Cross)
According to research by workspace provider Regus, flexible, collaborative workspace may be the ideal solution. The survey, which canvassed the opinions of business owners and senior managers from across the globe, revealed that the vast majority of small company owners believe collaborative work environments are better for business than traditional leased premises. In the poll, small firms reported that collaborative workplaces provide better value for money (79 per cent), help them scale their businesses rapidly (79 per cent) and are the ideal environment for start-ups to thrive (74 per cent).
Regus has two locations in Plymouth which provide a range of flexible, collaborative workspace. The first, in Salt Quay House on Sutton Harbour, offers offices on a shared, permanent or part-time basis, as well as co-working space and meeting rooms. Regus Express Plymouth is located in Drake Circus shopping centre. It provides bookable meeting rooms and a drop-in business lounge and is particularly popular with both retailers based at Drake Circus and the area’s flexible workers who use the facility on a drop-in basis. Both locations have been used by hundreds of small and growing businesses looking to work on a more flexible basis and take advantage of the easy scalability that such a model provides.
Richard Morris, UK CEO at Regus, comments: “Deciding where to work is a fundamental question facing every small and growing business. The ideal workplace should enable each member of the workforce to get their job done in the most productive way possible, working where, when and how it suits them. Today’s business owners have a multitude of practical options available.”
Plymouth Science Park (PSP)
Plymouth Science Park (PSP) has an unrivalled offering to science and tech start-ups in the Westcountry, providing space, flexibility, mentoring, networking and hands-on support for technology, digital and science-based businesses to accelerate their growth and success. It is the biggest science park in the South West and a world-class office, research and laboratory environment that provides the space, flexibility and support start-ups need with a 95 per cent success rate for those who join them.
Every qualifying business at PSP is offered up to 100 hours of free mentoring from experts
This is down not only to the outstanding environment but also to the mentoring offered by PSP itself and to the surrounding community which includes more than 150 businesses employing upwards of 1,000 people. This environment and community combines to create one of the South West’s most desirable working environments, providing its tenant businesses with the location and opportunity to work collaboratively for the development of science and tech start-ups.
Every qualifying business on the park is offered up to 100 hours of free mentoring from experts in their chosen field which helps to springboard small businesses to success. The park’s mission is to attract and support individuals, businesses and organisations within the following sectors: advanced engineering, digital and creative, environmental and renewables, medical and healthcare and marine.
As PSP is partnered with the University of Plymouth, businesses located there have the ability to gain access to the University’s profound research expertise in the science and technology sectors. So whether you are an entrepreneur, scientist, academic or recently-graduated student, the park’s dynamic cluster of knowledge-based businesses offers the perfect environment in which to succeed.
Every business benefits from regular, free, bespoke networking and masterclasses which are organised and hosted by the PSP team in response to demand from their tenants – in addition all tenants are offered PR support to promote their businesses. For good value, affordable prices and world class office accommodation for science and technology starters there is nowhere better in the West Country. Joining the PSP community not only accesses unrivalled networking and support but is also the perfect business incubator for tech.
The team on site understands the challenges of setting up a small business and offer flexible leases, with one-month notice at any time and no deposit. Their support and networking continues as your business develops and staying on site enables all businesses to move office as their business grows without ever having to change address. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, safe and secure with security on site, and focused on nurturing each business, Plymouth Science Park has everything a nascent science and tech business might need. PSP community and local businesses have access to:
Modern meeting rooms.
High-tech conferencing rooms.
The Park Kitchen, on-site bistro with Wi-Fi access.
Site-wide free Wi-Fi.
On-site data centre and storage.
On-site bike racks.
On-site showers and changing areas.
Lots of communal break out areas.
Easy access to nearby hotels for any overnight accommodation.
Wellbeing and fitness classes.
Click here for more information about Plymouth Science Park.
Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub
Starting a business is exciting but can be challenging and scary at times. If you have a business idea you would like to get off the ground, or maybe you run a new business that you would like to take to the next level, having the right help and support can make all the difference – and that is where we come in. The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub is a publicly-funded service, which means it is free to access, that can help find the right support for you to start or grow your business in our area.
Ayla Skinner, owner of Pristine Linen Cornwall at Delabole, near Camelford
Here is how it works: You give us a call, or register on our website and request a call back, and we book you in for a business review with one of our connectors. They come out to see you, either at your business or a convenient location near to you, and they take some time to get to know your business but more importantly they get to know you. Ayla Skinner from Pristine Linen Cornwall in Delabole, near Camelford, said: “Straight away Richard was eager to help, he made me feel totally at ease – even when I thought I was asking silly questions. He pointed me in the right direction and gave me such great advice. I wish I’d found the Growth Hub sooner!”
A business review is really a conversation about the opportunities and challenges you are facing now and your ambitions for the future. We then do all the leg work, saving you time and money by researching the support available both locally and nationally, and putting you in touch with the right people to help you make it happen. Karen Nicholas, of 3D Raptor Design in Penzance, said “It was great to speak openly to the Connector about wins, failures, worries and hopes. It is reassuring as a new business owner to know that there is accessible, local, professional support to help businesses reach their full potential.”
The Growth Hub team have also developed an extensive website that offers information, up to date news and promotional opportunities for Growth Hub members. You can create a free business listing on an ever-growing directory and find out what is happening in the world of business. You can also share your news by uploading stories to the website, which are then promoted through popular social media channels. You can also access a wide range of support information through our online resource library.
Since its launch in May last year, the Growth Hub has welcomed nearly 3,000 businesses through its virtual doors and is working with over 1,000 on their plans to start or grow. Tom Harvey, from Oceanflow Yoga in Newquay, said: “I wish more people knew about this free service. The Growth Hub has opened up a whole world of resources for us which is like gold dust for new and growing small businesses. I would wholeheartedly recommend getting in touch with them to see how they can support your business.”
If you would like to book your free business review, call the Growth Hub team on 01209 708660 or sign up online and request a call back. The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is match-funded by Cornwall Council, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP.
Regional finance company SWIG Finance has passed the £10 million milestone for loans given to new businesses around the South West under the government’s Start Up Loans scheme. The organisation has supported 1,245 entrepreneurs throughout the region since the national scheme started in September 2012. The total includes 149 loans to Devon start-ups, worth £1.12 million.
Brian Steer, of SWIG Finance, with Kalkidan Legesse and Vidmantas Markevius of Scarves For Sustainability on Fore Street in Exeter
Among them are business partners Kalkidan Legesse and Vidmantas Markevius, who took a £10,000 loan to help them start up their Scarves For Sustainability business, which has a store in Fore Street in Exeter.The money helped the pair, who were both graduates from Exeter University and new to business at the time, to invest in stock and capacity. Since the loan, in 2015, the business has doubled in size each year and the pair have just this week opened a second store called Sancho’s Dress, selling clothing, accessories and gifts from organic and fair trade producers.
Ms Legesse said: “Being fresh out of university with no savings to fall back on, the loan gave us a really useful boost because it meant we could invest in our growth. The business has grown steadily and we’re both really proud to have opened our second shop. We’re still really glad for the initial loan and are grateful both to SWIG Finance and the Start-Up Loans programme for giving us the helping hand towards our success.”
Brian Steer, fund manager for SWIG Finance in Exeter, said: “As one of the first delivery partners to join Start Up Loans five years ago, it is hugely rewarding, having reached this landmark, to reflect on the incredible amount of new entrepreneurship that the scheme has stimulated here in the South West, and the legacy that has already been created. Start Up Loans is a key part of the Government’s strategy to encourage entrepreneurship in the UK, increase the rate of business creation and improve survival prospects. It provides the right support at the right time and is a fantastic scheme to be part of.”
SWIG Finance is part of a network of similar organisations delivering Start Up Loans nationally, and in the South West, SWIG also provides investment to established businesses looking to finance their next stage of growth. Start Up Loans provides Government-backed loans and free business support for new entrepreneurs and businesses trading for less than two years. It is managed nationally by the Start Up Loans Company, a subsidiary of the British Business Bank.
Joanna Hill, Interim CEO at The Start Up Loans Company, said: “The South West is brimming with small business potential, and it’s fantastic that SWIG Finance has provided £10 million in funding to support the start-up community. We’re proud to be working alongside them.”
Source: Devon live