Exeter is a student brewing pot for entrepreneurial ideas. The local council has created a focus on a strong startup community as well as trying to create an innovative landscape by getting big companies – such as EDF and Met Office – to be based in the city.
It is home to one of the most successful universities in the UK, complete with international acknowledgement. The talent pool is vast thanks to the educational establishments and this is only augmented by big brands setting up headquarters in the city.
Having hosted the Google Startup Weekend in 2015, Exeter is climbing the ladder for entrepreneurial success.
The cathedral city of Exeter is located in the English county of Devon with fantastic transport links. It is well connected by motorways that lead to Bristol and on to Birmingham, London and South Wales or alternatively, down to Cornwall and Plymouth.
Exeter is considered to be a rail hub in the South West connecting to major cities such as London in just 2 hours. It also hosts its own international airport.
Unlike other cities, Exeter has a canal, but it has stopped being used commercially since 1972.
SETsquared is based in the University of Exeter’s Innovation Centre in Streatham campus. It provides laboratories, offices, hot desks, virtual client space and a conference centre as well as other services such as IT and communications. It supports spin-outs and tech start-ups and has been named the Business Incubation Champion for Europe and fourth in the world by UKBI in 2013.
The Innovation Centre is another facility in its own right. It focuses on knowledge-based organisations in research and development.
The Exeter Science Park hosts several office and laboratory spaces. Their connections with the university, Met Office, North Wyke Farm Platform and Blur group give incredible resources and access to research facilities.
The city is home to the University of Exeter and also hosts St Loye’s School of Health Studies from the University of Plymouth.
The University of Exeter is in the top 10 universities in the UK and top 100 in the world. Their research is internationally recognised making it a truly influential establishment in the city. They are renowned for a variety of subjects including Geography, History, English Language and Literature, Environmental Sciences and Politics.
St Loye’s School of Health Studies also gives access to a talent pool in health, social and occupational therapy.
Financial support can be found within the local council, accelerators or angel investors. Exeter City Council offers business funding much like many forward-thinking councils. The main angel group is Angel Investor Syndicate Group Exeter that offer £10,000 to £1,000,000 capital to invest and UnLtd supports social enterprises.
Alongside the financial support mentioned above, there are two accelerators to keep an eye on too. Seedbed Accelerator is one of ten UK projects funded by the Social Incubator Fund (backed by the Cabinet Office). As you have probably guessed, this accelerator is aimed at social ventures. Bush & Co, a chartered accountants company, also offer the Growth Accelerator. They provide help or training in areas such as access to finance, growth through innovation and business development as well as offering up to £2,000 of match funding for leadership and management training for each senior management staff member.
Jollie Goods is a social enterprise that aims to become the go-to brand to help the homeless in a fun and “Jollie” way. Right now, that’s by selling high quality, vibrant socks. Founder, Ed Vickers officially started Jollie Goods in 2012, but went full-time in 2014 after graduating from the University of Exeter. He is now looking to take on 3 people as his company grows.
According to Ed, Exeter fosters a strong entrepreneurial community that stems from the University itself. The University of Exeter has a strong ethos to support big ideas creating a student culture of entrepreneurism and a safe space to test ideas. It also has links to other useful companies such as Unlimited to help student start-ups.
Other than the University’s incredible support, Exeter has the luxury of being a small city making it easier to meet the right people and it is so well connected to the rest of the UK that you can get just about anywhere.
Tips for entrepreneurs starting up in the UK:
“Don’t try to be an entrepreneur, just do what you love. If it turns into a business, great! Make sure it’s worth it and means more than just the money.”
– Ed Vickers, Founder and CEO of Jollie Goods