I have a self-employment, freelance and / or business start up idea that I want to pursue

Self-employment, freelancing and running your own business

Relevant programmes and events:

Formation Zone weekly drop-in, workshops and monthly support sessions

If you have an idea that you want to pursue, Formation Zone offers weekly opportunities for students and graduates to access information on a variety of free self-employment and business start-up support all in one place. This includes:

  • coaching and mentoring opportunities
  • support to access Santander funding
  • collaboration opportunities
  • networking opportunities
  • workshops
  • masterclasses.

To find out which services may be most appropriate to you, simply drop into the Student Hub on Thursdays between 11.00-14.00. There is no need to book.

Formation Zone also delivers an ongoing programme of business start-up and development workshops on a variety of topics which can be very useful. These include:

  • brand workshop
  • consultative selling
  • IP for students and start ups
  • media workshop
  • sales strategy
  • Santander - Scam Avoidance School
  • Run A Monster Business Not A Business Monster.

In addition there are monthly Wednesday support sessions that you can attend where you can access:

  • 1:1’s with Thomas Westcott Chartered Accountants
  • 1:1’s with PATLIB
  • 1:1’s with Student Enterprise Manager
  • business start-up workshops (various topics, see above).
View graduate video case studies.

Formation Zone Santander Acceleration Awards 

In collaboration with Santander, Formation Zone offers quarterly competitive awards to accelerate the growth of early-stage businesses looking to start/scale.

Awards of approximately £1,250 are available to students and recent graduates in order to accelerate the progress of their business. Examples of what awards can be used for include:

  • build/redesign of website
  • 1:1 high value consultancy
  • implementation of accounting systems
  • implementation of quality management systems
  • procurement of new technology to add value
  • prototyping/3D printing/product development/R&D
  • financial support for office space
  • implementation of marketing/sales strategy
  • business support services to maximise growth.

Santander 1-1 support meetings

If you are a current student or recent graduate, wanting to apply for funding then a 1-1 with Remy Foucher from Santander can be very beneficial. Once a month he offers 1-1 appointments for 30 minutes, where you can talk though your ideas and ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. 

To find out more and to book please email: formationzone@plymouth.ac.uk.

Santander Graduate Entrepreneur Bursary

Funded by Santander these bursaries are available to University of Plymouth final year students and graduates from the last three years, who are developing an innovative business, but experiencing difficulties due to the current economic situation. There are five £2,000 Graduate Entrepreneur Bursaries available to cover legitimate business costs to support continued business growth and development.

Applicants must have an innovative trading business in the hi-tech, marine, environmental, advanced engineering, health and wellbeing, or creative industries, and meet the bursary’s eligibility criteria.

If you have any questions or would like more information, including the application form and the rules and eligibility criteria, please email formationzone@plymouth.ac.uk

Virtual Internship Scheme 2020–21

The new Virtual Internship Scheme will see graduating students working on short term creative projects to benefit local businesses and improve their employability. Creatives working on projects will be paid at a standard rate of £13/hour, up to a maximum of 38 hours per project (£500), which will be funded by the iMayflower Innovative Placement Scheme. It’s a great opportunity to enhance your business acumen, build your network of potential clients and get real hands on experience of working on as a freelancer. 

To express an interest, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact: Sarah Holcombe, iMayflower Knowledge Exchange Specialist

Masters R&D Studentship 2020–21

This new initiative will pair highly skilled masters level students from across our Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business with local businesses in order to undertake a defined R&D challenge that will contribute to the development of a new product, process, service or experiential offering for the business and deliver an unprecedented learning experience for our students. It’s a great opportunity to work collaboratively with a local business and gain hands on experience of innovating and implementing new ideas; building your commercial awareness and business acumen.

To express an interest, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact: Sarah Holcombe, iMayflower Knowledge Exchange Specialist sarah.holcombe@plymouth.ac.uk.

Formation Zone Business Incubation Services

Formation Zone Plymouth incubator provides space and support for innovative start-ups in the following sectors: creative industries, hi-tech, marine, environmental, advanced engineering, health and wellbeing. The benefits include: 

  • a workstation in one of their open plan offices. Includes a desk, chair, pedestal storage, IP phone, broadband network and wireless, shared printer / copier / scanner. Small additional charge for extra desks.
  • access to expert advice and peer support sessions.
  • links in to University of Plymouth research expertise, knowledge transfer and innovation opportunities.
  • access to their start-up online resource and network events.
  • access to their professional meeting rooms and a Formation Zone postal address.
  • easy-in, easy-out flexible terms.

iMayflower crowdfunding support

Crowdfunder UK are helping digital creative companies grow through a combination of expert crowdfunding coaching, events and extra funding.

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding gives people a digital platform to validate creative ideas, raise awareness of new projects, and build lasting relationships with supporters. And it’s an innovative way to fund your start-up and grow your business!

Find out more about how Crowdfunder can help as part of iMayflower


Available to all, Outset offers a fully funded pre-start to early trading programme of workshops, online resources and advisor support to help you explore whether your idea can grow into a great business and develop your plans.   

If you are a business that has been trading for under two years, they can offer a range of support to ensure your business has strong marketing and financial foundations. They can help you to explore ways to increase your customer base and to increase your working capital in order to achieve sustainable growth. 

Free workshops delivered in Formation Zone’s meeting room include:

  • an Introduction to business planning
  • introduction to business finance and funding
  • introduction to business marketing and social media. 

To find more about their free programme of support visit: https://www.outset.org/start-up-and-grow/.