The launch of the GAIN Digital Exchange

Businesses and regional economic leaders have celebrated the success of a new online community which is bringing together organisations across the South West and helping them share expertise and access opportunities to grow.

More than 50 businesses attended an event at University of Plymouth showcasing the new GAIN Digital Exchange which is now fully up and running after going live for testing in May.

Designed to bring together businesses in Devon, Somerset and Cornwall, was made possible by the Peninsula City Deal Growth Hub, which is being delivered in partnership by GAIN.

Already the site has more than 2,500 unique users and 550 people have registered to create their own online profile.

In a message to those attending the showcase, Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: 

“Small businesses are integral to our long term economic plan and we are making sure they have the support they need to start up and thrive. The launch of this new growth hub will provide businesses in Plymouth and the South West Peninsula with support that is easy to find and designed around their business needs.
“By joining up national and local systems the growth hub will give local businesses a one-stop-shop, offering initiatives such as the regional growth fund, apprenticeships and highlight exciting investment opportunities.”

Speaking at the event Plymouth City Council Leader Tudor Evans said:

“A belief in ideas and a willingness to push boundaries has been a feature of our past and we want to make it a key facet of our future. This is why the Digital Exchange is such a brilliant idea and has such potential not just for Plymouth, but for the whole of the region.
“It is about businesses getting advice, support and exchanging ideas in one place. It is about sharing ideas, making contacts, collaborating and pushing the boundaries and succeeding.”

Professor Julian Beer, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Regional Enterprise at University of Plymouth said: 

“As the enterprise university we see it as fundamental that we support our region, its business community and our partners in the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal to aid economic growth.
“We are very proud of the GAIN digital exchange, delighted at the quality of discussion and peer-to-peer support already taking place on the forum and the level of early interest which is now starting to really accelerate.
“The South West is leading the way in developing an innovative approach to supporting the many exciting businesses we have here in the region and the new digital exchange will be an invaluable tool in helping them share expertise and grow.” brings a wide range of resources together into one place for the first time and creates new opportunities for businesses to interact and share ideas.

With 2,500 users so far and new businesses joining daily, it enables users to tap into advice, expertise and information from other businesses, advisors and investors in the region. Highly interactive and designed to encourage discussion, it gives each member a personal homepage with content targeted at their own areas of interest.

The site features a fast and comprehensive search for local, regional, national and European funding and a forum for pitching questions to the business community and sharing expertise. It also provides easy access to support providers as well as information on local events, training programmes and workshops.

As the enterprise University we see it as fundamental that we support our region, its business community and our partners in the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal to aid economic growth.

Professor Julian Beer

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 

"The GAIN digital exchange is a key ingredient of the new growth hub for the Heart of the South West and it will directly benefit local businesses. It will encourage business growth, new employment and increased profitability, and will be a valuable tool for businesses looking for new customers in the UK and overseas, as well as those who are keen to improve efficiency and effectiveness. We are delighted that the Government is partnering with us to provide this new facility. 

Chris Pomfret, chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 

“Growth Hubs are a way of providing business support in a seamless way that businesses can easily access and understand, something that our business community has said is important. In a dispersed region like ours technology has an important role to play in that and new initiatives like the Digital Exchange can help break down barriers to business growth.” follows the launch of the GAIN Business Engagement Service, which entrepreneurs and businesses can contact for advice and support. Businesses can call the new Business Engagement Service helpline on 0800 073 2020 or email:

The Peninsula City Deal Growth Hub has been made possible by the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal’s £6 million business support programme, which was announced in January and is being funded through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

A major focus of the Deal was to set up the Growth Hub to co-ordinate business support in the region and make accessing this as easy as possible. The Peninsula City Deal Growth Hub collects into one place everything and everyone businesses need to know to help them succeed and grow – from expert business advice and mentoring to innovation workspace and R&D facilities, funding and investment support.

About the Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal

Plymouth and South West Peninsula City Deal is a ground-breaking deal with government to deliver economic growth in the south west in exchange for the government devolving powers and funding. The deal area covers Plymouth, Cornwall, Devon, Torbay and Somerset.

The deal will tackle low rates of productivity, a key barrier to economic growth, by playing to the peninsula's strengths and growing the marine and advanced manufacturing sectors. The South West has 14 per cent of the national marine supply chain, employing 26,000. It is home to global companies such as Babcock Marine, Princess Yachts International, Pipex px, Pendennis Ship Yard and Agusta Westland.

The Deal will tackle low rates of productivity by:

  • Growing the marine and advanced manufacturing sectors by developing a marine industries production campus led by South Yard in Plymouth. This will provide additional research and commercialisation facilities and the relocation and development of supply chain companies, enabling the growth of the marine sector across the peninsula.
  • Providing tailored business support programmes to all small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and marine sector companies.
  • Implementing a Deal for Young People that will tackle youth unemployment in Plymouth and the peninsula.

As a result of the City Deal local partners predict it will lead to:

  • 9,500 permanent jobs.
  • Unlock 32,400 square metres of new marine workspace as part of a potential phased release of the South Yard site at Devonport Naval Base that could, in the long term, unlock 85,000 square metres of new marine workspace.
  • 1,500 young people taking part in youth unemployment programmes, with 540 achieving sustained employment.
  • The launch of the largest wage progression project in the country that will boost the earnings of young people.
  • Provide £34m of local and national public sector investment.
  • Lever in over £72 million of private sector investment into the area, increasing to £262m over the long term.

The Plymouth and Peninsula City Deal is supported by Plymouth City Council, the Heart of the South West LEP, University of Plymouth, Devon County Council, Cornwall Council, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, West Devon Borough Council, South Hams District Council, Torbay Council, Torbay Development Agency, City College Plymouth, Exeter University, South West Marine Energy Park (SWMEP), Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Babcock, Princess Yachts and Plymouth Marine Laboratories.