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I want to start a business

Considering starting your own business? On this page we are highlighting the main sources of support locally that we would recommend when planning a start up. You may also need to seek some financial and legal advice from your bank, accountant and solicitor to ensure that you have thought about all of these aspects.

Heart of the South West Growth Hub


Business and IP Centre Devon (BIPC)


Business Organisations


Setsquared / University of Exeter Enterprise Zone


You may also be interested in our Support for Business section.

Heart of the South West Growth Hub

The Heart of the South West Growth Hub provides independent diagnosis and referrals to existing business support services. The Growth Hub is the first point of contact for businesses in the Heart of the South West LEP area (Devon, Somerset, Torbay and Plymouth) wishing to develop and grow.

The Growth Hub service works in partnership with existing local and national business support services and will help businesses access the right support for them without duplicating existing provision.

The Growth Hub service is the first point of contact for both new and established businesses seeking business support. It is offered completely free at point of access for all businesses seeking advice and support in the Heart of the South West area; Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.

The Growth Hub team is on hand to answer your questions or refer you to specialist advice and support such as finance options, exporting or innovation. The Growth Hub has a range of resources to help businesses and individuals who are starting a business and will signpost where relevant to further support where that is available. New events and workshops are regularly added to the Growth Hubs website from a local and national training providers, organisations and Government departments. These events cover a variety of topics, business skills and industry insights.

What to do next

If you’re looking for advice and information about business support that is available to you and your industry, contact the Growth Hub and sign up to the regular newsletter.

Business and IP Centre Devon (BIPC)

BIPCDevon are providers of support and training for those looking to start a business or grow an existing one. The BIPC is based within Exeter Library in the centre of Exeter.

BIPCDevon follows a programme and ethos developed by the Business & IP Centre at the British Library, London, providing support to business owners, entrepreneurs and inventors.

At the Centre you can access a comprehensive collection of online databases and publications, and attend online (and when possible face to face) talks and workshops and one-to-one sessions.

We have a comprehensive collection of databases and publications which can be used to research trademarks, patents, registered designs, copyright and other intellectual property (IP) issues.

BIPCDevon provide training in various aspects of starting, running or growing a business, including IP, marketing, digital media, selling online, GDPR, and other aspects of starting a business and employing people. Training is provided virtually, via Zoom, and face to face (when possible).

To find out more about the support you can access from BIPC Devon, visit;

Other Organisations

Exeter Chamber of Commerce

Exeter Chamber is the city’s leading business membership organisation, connecting businesses, building knowledge and driving prosperity for Greater Exeter.

Members benefit from our Support Local campaign, increased connectivity with other members. local councils and MPs and access to knowledge through our events, webinars, seminars, information and insight. Membership provides regular promotional opportunities and the chance to add your voice to the business community of Greater Exeter. Find out more about the benefits of membership here

For start ups we can provide act as an initial sounding board – email to arrange a conversation.

Federation of Small Businesses

As experts in business, we offer our members a wide range of vital business services including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice heard in government. Our mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions.


InExeter is the levy-paying organisation responsible for the city centre Business Improvement District. If you are, or want to be based in the City Centre, then you will need to engage with them, you can find out more about what they do to support businesses here;

ESSENCE is Exeter’s Social Enterprise Network. 

They provide mentoring and signpost you to other support for starting a (social) enterprise. ESSENCE organises networking events, business support events & informal meetups in the Exeter area.

Their mission is to grow and stimulate a social economy, together with their members and partners. Find their 55+ members on– you will see organisations in the food sector, healthcare, transport, IT, the arts, retail and trade.

As a support service, they help you develop your idea into a future-proof business model that also benefits the community and the environment. Or, if you are already operating as a business, ESSENCE connects you to like-minded organisations to help you become more resilient and robust, innovative and deeper connected to the communities you operate in.

Together we look at what funding sources would be available, which contacts might be useful for you, what legal entity might be most suitable for your business, who can help you with a website and your social media, which business programmes you might want to join to work on your initiative etc.

If you would like to find out more about social enterprise, please look here:

Seetec Pluss

Seetec Pluss have a dedicated self-employment team that tailors support to the individual and their business goal. Your Self-Employment Advisor will guide you through the legal and financial requirements of going self-employed, work on the development of your brand and marketing plan and encourage a clear understanding of your audience and where you want your business to go.

We also offer specialist support for people with a learning disability, Autism, and for people trying to overcome life’s additional barriers – from support with mental health, health and wellbeing to housing, benefits or debt. We are here every step of the way’. Please speak to your Jobcentre Plus Work Coach, or visit to find out more about our services and eligibility.

Community Catalysts

Community Catalysts are a social enterprise helping people to use their talents to start and run small enterprises that support and care for

other local people. Community Catalysts has a huge amount of experience helping local people establish community enterprises. We run a development programme which can:

• offer you a friendly and supportive point of contact to explore ideas
• support you to develop your community enterprise
• give you practical information on regulation, training and opportunities in the health and social care sector
• direct you to other organisations who can help

Setsquared / University of Exeter Enterprise Zone

SETsquared Exeter is a member of the SETsquared partnership, the three times Global Number One business incubator.

Our members benefit from the resource and expertise of a top 10 Russell Group institution in The University of Exeter and its rich and varied track record of successful collaboration with small and medium enterprises, large multinationals, government agencies, NGOs and charities.

We take time to listen to our clients and ensure they get the support that is just right for them. Together, we determine what it takes to create, nurture, and grow their business.

Becoming a SETsquared Exeter member gives you strategic advantage right away. You can feel confident and empowered via our structured learning programme supported by a team of professional advisors and business experts. Your dedicated Entrepreneur-in-Residence, will become a critical friend, an experienced and trusted business confidant invested in your success.

The University of Exeter Enterprise Fund (UEEZ) has enabled the emergence of increased collaborative opportunities. It will allow us to extend our provision and connect with regional hubs to offer our support further afield.

Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab

The Environmental Futures & Big Data Impact Lab (Impact Lab) is a £6.4m partnership of seven Devon-based, world class organisations, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The partnership consists of the University of Exeter, Exeter City Futures, the Met Office, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the University of Plymouth and Rothamsted Research.


The Impact Lab offers free support to businesses looking to capitalise on Big Data and Environmental opportunities and create new products and services. It also supports academics and scientists to commercialise their expertise. The Impact Lab’s main objective is to boost inward investment and productivity-led growth by positioning Devon as a national and international centre for Environmental and Big Data analytics.

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