Can Exeter Businesses Benefit from Government Grants for Innovation?

The business environment is becoming increasingly competitive, necessitating constant innovation to stay ahead. Governments, both local and national, understand the importance of supporting businesses to innovate and grow. To this end, various grants and funding programmes have been established to encourage and facilitate innovation. The city of Exeter in Devon, renowned for its vibrant business environment and technological growth, is no exception.

Let's delve into the specifics of how businesses in Exeter can benefit from these government grants, focusing on programmes such as the Digital Growth Programme, the National Innovation Programme, and the University of Exeter’s innovation support.

The Digital Growth Programme

The Digital Growth Programme is a council-funded initiative aiming to support businesses in embracing digital technology. The programme provides grants to businesses based in Exeter, helping them invest in digital tools and adapt to the rapidly evolving tech landscape.

This council-backed funding programme is designed to support businesses of all sizes, from small start-ups to large enterprises. The Digital Growth Programme recognises that digital technology is key to business growth and sustainability. Whether it be improving your online presence, adopting new software for productivity, or investing in cybersecurity, this programme can provide the support your business needs.

The grant application process is relatively straightforward, with the council offering guidance to help businesses navigate the process. If successful, your business could receive a grant that can make a significant difference in your digital growth journey.

The National Innovation Programme

The National Innovation Programme is a central government initiative that provides funding for businesses across the UK. This programme is primarily focused on supporting innovative projects that have the potential to drive national economic growth.

Businesses in Exeter are well-placed to benefit from this scheme. The National Innovation Programme understands that innovation is not just about creating new products or services, but about finding new, more effective ways of doing things. This could mean developing new business models, improving processes, or exploring new markets.

This programme provides businesses with the necessary funding to take their innovative projects off the ground, offering grants based on the nature and potential impact of the project. Not only does the National Innovation Programme provide financial support, but it also offers mentoring and networking opportunities, helping businesses in Exeter connect with like-minded innovators across the country.

University of Exeter’s Innovation Support

Exeter's businesses can also benefit from the innovation support provided by the University of Exeter. The university is a leading institution in research and innovation, particularly in the fields of environment and health.

Through their various innovation programmes, the University of Exeter offers businesses the opportunity to collaborate on research projects, access state-of-the-art facilities, and receive expert advice. This collaboration can lead to the development of revolutionary products, services, or processes, positively impacting not just the business, but also the wider community.

The University of Exeter’s innovation support is not a grant per se, but it offers a different kind of value. By partnering with the university, businesses can access resources and expertise that would otherwise be out of reach. This kind of support can be particularly beneficial for smaller businesses that may not have the means to conduct large scale research or product development in-house.

Health and Innovation Programme

The health sector in Exeter and across Devon can benefit from the Health and Innovation Programme, a government-backed initiative that supports health-related tech projects. This programme recognises the vital role that innovation plays in improving health care services and outcomes.

The Health and Innovation Programme provides funding for businesses working on innovative tech projects that have the potential to revolutionise the health sector. This could include developing new medical devices, creating health apps, or improving patient care through digital technology.

This programme not only offers financial support but also connects businesses with health professionals, researchers, and other industry specialists. This network can provide valuable insight and feedback, helping businesses refine their offerings and maximise their impact.

SETsquared Exeter Innovation Support

SETsquared is a unique enterprise partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton, and Surrey. In Exeter, this partnership offers support to start-ups and scale-ups through its award-winning incubation programme. As a SETsquared Exeter member, businesses can access a myriad of benefits such as high-quality, bespoke business support, a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, and links to investors and the wider business ecosystem.

In addition to this, Exeter-based businesses can also access funding opportunities through SETsquared. This includes investment showcases, pitching opportunities, and introductions to investors. Moreover, SETsquared Exeter operates the Student Start-up programme, which supports student entrepreneurs and has led to successful businesses across different sectors, including the creative industries, life sciences, and the natural environment.

A contact email is provided by SETsquared Exeter for businesses to reach out and explore how they can benefit from their programmes. With their support, businesses in Exeter are well-positioned to grow, innovate, and contribute positively to the economy of the South West.

Barclays Eagle Labs

Barclays Eagle Labs, in partnership with the University of Exeter and Devon County, provides a platform for businesses to grow and develop their innovative ideas. Located in Exeter, the lab offers support to businesses of all sizes across a range of sectors. Particularly, the lab focuses on health and social care, life sciences, and the creative industries.

The Barclays Eagle Labs provides start-ups with co-working spaces, access to expert advice, and funding opportunities. Their maker space is designed to foster innovation, allowing businesses to prototype, iterate and validate their ideas quickly and cost-effectively.

Furthermore, Barclays Eagle Labs organises workshops and events aimed at promoting innovation and fostering a vibrant business community. With their support, Exeter businesses have a place where they can learn, share and collaborate, thus, fostering a culture of innovation in the city.


In conclusion, Exeter presents a fertile ground for business growth, innovation, and development. With various government grants and innovation support programmes such as the Digital Growth Programme, the National Innovation Programme, the University of Exeter’s innovation support, the Health and Innovation Programme, SETsquared Exeter, and Barclays Eagle Labs, businesses in Exeter can access the required resources to foster innovation and growth.

These programmes provide not just financial support but also mentorship, networking opportunities, access to research and development facilities, and collaboration opportunities. This comprehensive support structure is a testament to the commitment of the local and national government, as well as institutions like the University of Exeter, to facilitating business growth and innovation.

Businesses in Exeter are encouraged to take full advantage of these opportunities. After all, innovation is essential for business competitiveness, sustainability, and contribution to the local and national economy. With the available support, the sky is the limit for what Exeter businesses can achieve.