Completed business support projects

The Business Support and Innovation Team deliver a range of projects that support businesses across a range of different sectors. See below for a list of our recently completed projects.

Devon Agri-Tech Accelerator (DATA)

Devon County Council successfully secured over £500,000 from the Community Renewal Fund to support farming and the Agri-Tech sector.

The project had four elements, which were:

  • research and mapping – to get a better understanding of what opportunities were within the sector
  • building an Agri-Tech Alliance – to better the connectedness of the agricultural community
  • knowledge exchange and voucher scheme – vouchers of up to £15,000 were available to support Agri-Tech businesses
  • farm innovation pilot – offered support to farm businesses to enhance their enterprise and decarbonisation plans

The overall aim of the project was to support existing Agri-Tech businesses and to create a more connected community between farmers, growers, landowners and Agri-Tech businesses – to boost the agricultural sector in Devon.

Get Set to Tender

This initiative provided free support to Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) located in Devon that had less than 250 employees, to help them respond to public sector organisation tendering opportunities. Support was available until March 2023.

On offer was:

  • an introduction to procurement and tendering aimed at organisations who were yet to take advantage of existing opportunities – introductory workshops explored how to access public sector opportunities
  • intermediate support aimed at organisations that had some experience in tendering for public sector contracts
  • writing tender responses – aimed at all organisations who wanted to secure public sector opportunities

Devon Get Started

Devon Get Started was aimed at people over 25, living in Devon who wanted to start their own business.

The programme focused on supporting prestart activities and helped participants build confidence, learn how to identify resources, how to avoid common mistakes and how to manage, organise, run, market, finance and grow a new business.

Support was delivered by qualified business coaches and advisors and offered a mix of workshops, networking events, peer support activities and one-to-one support.

Digital Boost Devon

Digital Boost Devon provided up to 12 hours of free digital training and advice, with expert trainers delivering a combination of interactive digital workshops and tailored one-to-one support for individual businesses.

The scheme, delivered by award-winning digital skills training company COSMIC, based in East Devon, was fully funded by Devon County Council and ran until March 2023.

Taking Business Digital

The Taking Business Digital pilot project aimed to support every aspect of business in a digital world, delivering events, seminars, training and one-to-one support.

This programme, delivered by Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, explored everything from digital marketing and local procurement to supply chains, importing and exporting, and customs procedures.

The pilot was available until March 2022.

Get Set Adapt Devon

Get Set Adapt Devon was delivered by YTKO to support businesses across Devon to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. This scheme, which ran until March 2023, offered a business diagnostic review to determine recovery strategy and tactics, and any further support a business needed.

One-to-one sessions with a specialist business advisor provided a bespoke action plan for recovery and growth. There were also tailored workshops and masterclasses based around business resilience, business models and other key areas. It also included online learning with 24/7 access to interactive learning modules and a resource library.

Devon Elevation Fund

The Devon Elevation Funding (both first and second rounds) is now closed to new applications. Devon County Council launched a new delegated grant scheme to provide support for business innovation and agility, creating new jobs, new products and allowing local business to play a more active role in building back better and improving local economic resilience.

The Devon Elevation Fund (DEF) was funded through the UK Community Renewal Fund and was primarily a ‘small’ revenue grants scheme. It was designed to assist sole traders, micro, small and medium-sized businesses (up to 250 employees) or organisations across Devon. These included start-ups, social enterprises, and constituted community organisations (i.e., business/community groups, parish, town, district/borough councils).

The scheme offered grants of between £2,500 and £25,000 to projects that help businesses and community organisations to:

  • respond to the different trading environment resulting from COVID-19
  • plan for future growth and development
  • develop new products and services
  • assess the feasibility of future initiatives

The programme aimed to encourage the creation of new businesses and new jobs while safeguarding existing jobs. Start-ups, particularly from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups, were also supported. The fund encouraged opportunities for innovation and growth through the development of new products and feasibility studies for future projects to deliver innovation and change. Priority was given to projects that supported the county’s plans for recovery and growth; and would help level-up economic and social inequalities. This included supporting community and business sectors hardest hit by the Coronavirus pandemic such as tourism, hospitality, retail, food and drink.

The DEF funded predominantly revenue projects and grants were limited to projects that could complete activities by the end of May 2022. One-to-one support was available to help develop carbon reduction plans to support the Levelling-up and Net-zero agendas. Applicants also received help to overcome unforeseen problems, build confidence and ensure delivery of outcomes.

The project was delivered locally by Devon County Council, North Devon +, Business Information Point and The Diverse Regeneration Company CIC. Devon County Council also managed the UK Community Renewal Fund in Devon.

Listening Ear

Listening Ear was a service that provided the opportunity to chat informally to an experienced volunteer about whatever a business owner was finding challenging due to the effects of COVID-19, not only in terms of their businesses but their wellbeing and stress levels.

Volunteers were not there to offer business advice; they were there to provide a friendly, impartial listening ear to talk about whatever a business owner felt they needed to.

ERDF Innovation in Healthy Ageing

A groundbreaking programme to generate innovation and growth in the business and voluntary sectors supporting healthy ageing. The project supported the private and voluntary sectors covering medical technology and health care to fund the development of new products and services which could transform how people age healthily in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.

ERDF Growth Support Programme

The Growth Support Programme offered eligible SMEs an initial 3 hour diagnostic to support their plans to grow or expand. Businesses were offered the opportunity to access a further 9 hour support package of three modules. These are modules focused on digital, finance, HR, innovation and marketing. The support was available to ERDF-eligible businesses based in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.

ERDF Enhance Social Enterprise Programme

The Enhance Social Enterprise Programme supported social enterprise and social entrepreneurs to achieve their growth ambitions.

Individuals and organisations at all stages of their enterprise journey could benefit from tailored business support around themes such as digital transformation, funding and financial sustainability, social impact frameworks, change management and innovation.

The support was available to ERDF eligible businesses from Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay. More information can be found at Enhance Social Enterprise.

Making it Local

Making it Local is now closed and it has fully allocated its £1.4m budget.

The Making it Local and REAL Devon Local Action Groups (LAGs) distributed grants to local people and businesses to develop opportunities for improving the rural economy and quality of life for people living and working in the area through a targeted grants programme called LEADER.

The grants were funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and were part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). 

The Making it Local area was based on the parishes of the Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONBs and the surrounding gateway market towns. The overall aim was to use the outstanding environmental quality and local human potential as a ‘springboard’ for sustainable economic growth. 

REAL Devon

REAL Devon is now closed and it has fully allocated its £1.4m budget for the Mid and East Devon area.

Creative Innovation and Growth Programme (CIAG)

The Creative Innovation and Growth (CIAG) Grants Programme supported Adult Social Care businesses and organisations in Devon.

CIAG incorporated three elements: a revenue and capital grants programme; free business support; and free leadership development activities. These were available to eligible ASC organisations and businesses in Devon.

The emphasis of these activities was on developing new services, increasing sufficiency, developing new products and new innovative ways of working in the adult social care market.

More information can be found on the CIAG webpage.

Engaging Rural Micros (ERM) project

Engaging Rural Micros was a two-phase research project which engaged with micro businesses (businesses with fewer than 10 employees) to understand their needs, and how to better support their productivity.

The project is now closed. To find out more about the project, and read the phase 1 and 2 reports, visit the Engaging Rural Micros webpage.

Reconnect Rebuild Recover – Communities

This fund provided grants of up to £3,000 to community-led initiatives which identify and achieve, in a safe and confident way, the important things that matter to and help local people to reconnect, rebuild and recover their community-led facilities and/or social activity. 168 successful applications processed since July 2021and £276,000 funding distributed.

Find out more at Reconnect Rebuild Recover Community Fund.

Prompt Action Fund to help communities

Posted on: 27 March 2020

Devon County Council launched the COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund to help provide valuable funding to organisations working in communities that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme, which only launched this week has had over 80 applications already.

The grants of between £100 and £500 will help voluntary and community groups to tackle the social and economic impacts of the virus outbreak and help those who are most vulnerable in their communities. The funding can be used to address issues such as:

Safe deliveries of essential goods and services to people who are isolating, for example, food and medicine, Supporting people to access online information and services, Starting virtual support groups to help people who are isolated to stay connected and to improve mental health and wellbeing, Transport related initiatives, for example, the use of voluntary car schemes to deliver essentials, medicine and meals.

Applications are invited from established Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector groups, Town and Parish Councils, charities or businesses, or a combination of these working together.

Groups, small local businesses and individuals without their own separate bank account may also apply, but they will need to have the support of a recognised organisation – such as town and parish council, local community and voluntary services (CVS) organisation, village hall or other established local voluntary groups – acting on their behalf as guarantor or as the holder of the funding.

2 Further grant funds up to the value of £3000 were launched following Prompt Action Fund to coincide with each lockdown.  A total of £625,640 was distributed to 622 successful applicants.

Doing What Matters (DWM) Community Grant Fund

The Doing What Matters (DWM) Community Grant Fund was designed by the Devon County Council Business Support and Innovation Team in conjunction with the Communities Team to support not for private profit organisations to deliver projects which met the strategic aim of the DWM Scheme.

A decision was made on 08/04 for the temporary deployment of the Doing What Matters Grant Fund to offer grants to eligible organisations to support and mobilise the communities impacted by COVID-19.

Strategic aim

Connecting people in a positive, fulfilling and inclusive way; tackling and reducing loneliness and undesired isolation in all their forms and across all age groups.

The fund was utilised for bids that helped:

  • to build relationships and connections locally, across all age groups
  • people become more physically active
  • people take notice of their local environment
  • to develop opportunities for culture, creativity or learning
  • to support giving across local people and communities, including volunteering
  • to make people feel safer locally

For more information, please visit the Doing What Matters Community Grant Fund webpage.

Replacement Care Innovation Fund (RCIF)

Devon County Council and NHS Devon CCG made grants of between £1,000 and £15,000 available to organisations – including adult care providers, personal assistants, and groups of carers – who developed and provided innovative opportunities that gave carers a break, during COVID-19 and beyond.

Funds supported innovative methods of delivering or accessing replacement care, which had to provide or enable carers to access breaks, education, employment, volunteering or leisure.

The project is now closed, for more information visit the Replacement Care Innovation Fund Webpage.

Growth Support Kickstart Grant Scheme

The Growth Support Kickstart Grants Scheme is closed.

We received over 1800 applications for the funding and have fully allocated the £ 747,364.00 that the Heart of the South West was awarded.

We have provided feedback to government about the level of demand for these grants. If any further funds were to become available they would be announced on the Growth Hub website. We encourage all businesses to sign up for the newsletter and or to contact the team to find out the latest business support available.

The aim of the fund was to help businesses to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The grant scheme was open to small and medium-sized enterprises based in the Heart of the South West LEP area of Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.

Grants of between £1,000 and £3,000 were awarded to eligible businesses that met the criteria on a first come first served basis.

Activities supported by the grant included:

  • specialist professional advice such as HR, financial including accountancy, IT and digital
  • the purchase of minor equipment to support businesses to adapt or adopt new technology in order to continue to deliver business activity.

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