Business start up

Thinking of starting a business?


Spark is a 5 step programme designed to give you the insight, tools and knowledge to take your idea forward. The unique programme offers a mixture of workshops, events, guidance and 1:1 support via a dedicated business mentor. You will have the opportunity to pitch your idea and be selected for grant funding and a chance to test trade your idea. Backed by the Cornwall Innovation Centres, Plymouth University, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and local businesses, Spark is a European Regional Development Funded project.

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Spark for Women

Building on the positive impact of the Empowering Smart Women project, Spark for Women encourages women to become a network, working together to achieve their individual goals. The programme provides high quality business start up support, personal development, networking, specialist 1:1 coaching, ongoing progress reviews and dedicated mentoring. The programme is fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

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European Structural and Investment Funds

The project is receiving up to £800,000 of funding from the England European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) are the Managing Authorities for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development. By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs. For more information visit

From the course

Tara Stevens, Shufflebum - Spark

Tara Stevens’ business Shufflebum was just an idea in her head three years ago. Now, the toddler clothing range is a successful business that has been sparked to life. As a busy mum, Tara’s idea was ‘put to the back boiler’ until she decided to give her idea a go with the Spark programme. Before she knew it, she was invited to discuss her idea further. The potential for Tara’s idea was spotted and she was taken through the programme where she learnt how to take her idea into the successful business that it is today. “Never before did I realise just how much information, planning and time goes into producing a business plan. I felt a great sense of achievement putting it all together”.