Life-changing technology, seaweed farming, transforming old plastic waste and a twist on artisan gin are just some of the brilliant new business ideas which are getting much needed expert help to flourish during the Covid-19 pandemic in Devon and Cornwall.
Over the next twelve months, twenty-five new and fledgling projects will take part in the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) Start Something initiative – a new business incubator that provides support for brilliant new enterprises, side hustles and pet projects with potential.
When the shout went out for people to take part, the plan was to help ten emerging entrepreneurs. But the quality and breadth of ideas that poured in changed that. With such a high calibre of entries to the programme, RIO made the decision to take 25 businesses onto the programme.
These new projects, some run by people with no previous business experience, will now get access to specialist facilities, co-working spaces, expert business support mentors, events, workshops, webinars and one-to-one coaching. They’ll also have the opportunity to connect with partners, including Crowdfunder to test ideas with the public and raise investment. All this, plus the support the 25 businesses taking part will give each other.
As well as £3,000 pounds’ worth of business support from RIO, they will also get a three-monthly introductory membership of the Devon and Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.
Lindsey Hall, CEO of RIO, reflected that when Lockdown One hit, action was needed: “The pandemic has changed our lives, the way we work and what matters most. Back in March, we shut our buildings. Challenging as it was, it gave us time to think and ask some difficult questions. Could we share the facilities we have? Did other people need them? Should we stop doing some things ourselves? Yes! was the answer and Start Something the solution.”
The 25 businesses being helped are hugely varied. They include Chameleon Gin, a Cornish artisan gin where you can create bespoke drinks by adding a sachet of hand-pressed botanicals. Precious Plastics Plymouth and Tavistock, which uses technology to transform unwanted plastic into new, useful objects, and Bake Away, combatting social isolation through baking.
Georgina Moss, founder of Cornish-based Chameleon Gin, is thrilled with the support: “During lockdown/not lockdown/lockdown, it’s been really difficult to behave like an ordinary business and go and meet other people. Real Ideas has provided an awesome platform for this which everyone on the course has been grateful for. Being able to talk to other start-ups and find support and encouragement really helps – as working from home can be so isolating.”
Visit the RIO website to find out more about these innovative new businesses.