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Economic Development Team
Dept. of Development
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth PL1 2AA
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Business support and advice

Support and advice

There are a variety of business support and enterprise agencies based in Plymouth, as well as Council departments, who can offer a range of services and advice to new start-ups, as well as existing and inward-moving companies.

Our business support guides pull together the various support and guidance streams available to businesses and can be downloaded below.

Business support guide for existing businesses [118KB]

Business support guide for start-ups [153KB]

Further information with links to relevant organisations may be found on our 'Starting a new business' pages, whilst other sources of support are outlined below.


Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes designed around the needs of employers, which lead to national recognised qualifications. You can use Apprenticeships to train both new and existing employees. Funding is available to train apprentices.

Apprenticeships are designed by the Sector Skills Councils, while the National Apprenticeship Service helps to fund the training. Business representatives from the relevant industry sector work with the Sector Skills Councils to develop the course content ensuring training is relevant to its industry.

Business rates

We administer national non domestic rates but work to regulations controlled by Central Government. Visit the Department for Communities and Local Government website for a full guide to business rates.


Open to Export

First announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2011, Open to Export is a community driven online service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) looking for support, guidance and in-depth information they need to export from the UK. The service is delivered by hibu (formerly Yell Group) in partnership with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

Businesses can register for free, connect and engage with the exporting community and ask and answer specific export-related questions. Answers are provided from UK Trade & Investment officers based in UK Embassies and High Commissions throughout the world, recognised third party experts and experienced small businesses able to help other small businesses on their export journey.

Plymouth International Trade Club

Plymouth International Trade Club was set up as a network for both inexperienced and experienced exporters to get together and share knowledge and expertise.

The objectives for the club are to:

  • Stimulate interest/activity in international trade
  • Provide a local forum for discussion and the sharing of challenges and opportunities
  • Encourage the spread of best export practice
  • Signpost sources of export support, advice and training
  • Identify specific market opportunities, trade missions and events

Visit the Plymouth International Trade Club website for further information or contact them on 01752 273886 or email


You will need to obtain planning permission for most building works or changes of use of land or buildings. However not all building works or changes of use require the submission of a planning application to the Council.

The Council’s planning team is able to provide advice and information on development proposals, offering an opportunity for discussions to take place before a planning application is submitted. This is called pre-application advice and forms part of the Development Enquiry Service.


Sell2Plymouth is a partnership between Plymouth’s public sector buyers, local business support agencies and both the Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses. It promotes business relationships between micro and small businesses and the public sector, with public sector partners having committed to providing opportunities to access contracts for goods and services up to £20,000 in a one-stop information point which also contains details of how to bid.

A guide on how to do business with Plymouth City Council has been produced to assist suppliers and contractors who wish to supply Plymouth City Council with goods, materials, services or works. Advice within this guide should also be helpful when bidding for any public service contract.


City College Plymouth

City College Plymouth is a leading provider of training and business services with a dedicated employer response team that advises on training, qualifications and funding for businesses. It offers a wide range of general business and management training as well as bespoke training designed to meet exact needs. It can also help businesses recruit, train and qualify apprentices.

University of St Mark and St John

The University of St Mark and St John works closely with businesses and offers a range of services to employers including:

  • HE-level flexible training for those already in employment
  • The Continuing professional development
  • Short and industry-related courses from levels 1 to 7
  • Employer advisory groups for course content
  • Student placement projects
  • Applied research and knowledge transfer partnerships

Visit the University of St Mark and St John website for further information or contact the Director of Academic and External Affairs on 01752 636700 extn 2097 or by email at

Plymouth University

Enterprise Solutions is a service provided by Plymouth University that enables businesses to access a wide range of expertise, services and facilities, including:

  • Entrepreneurship and business start-up
  • Expertise and research
  • Facilities (laboratories, meeting rooms or accommodation)
  • Funding
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Student/graduate recruitment
  • Skills and training

Visit the Enterprise Solutions website for further information or contact the Enterprise Solutions team on 0800 052 5600 or by email at