Rural Business Support

At Serco Employment, Skills and Enterprise we have been supporting the health and competitiveness of our rural and farming economy for two decades. During this period the sector has seen continuous change and it now faces a set of opportunities that could help more businesses thrive and increase the emergence of new ventures…given the right support.

We have an enviable track record in successful rural business support. Working with a range of European and public funds we have delivered support programmes alongside a leading network of partners and specialists and within one of the Government’s flagship Rural Growth Networks.

Our programmes have secured the future of farming businesses through diversification, helping improve productivity, supporting new rural enterprises and reducing environmental impact. As needs have changed then so our services have grown – providing access to finance and funding, supporting women in rural enterprise, utilising innovation and agri-tech and, most recently, the emergence of digital technology in all its forms.

A n bootscluster of wellingtoAs technology further breaks down some of the traditional barriers, then the focus and depth of support is going to be critical. At the core will be a mechanism to share knowledge and develop partnerships that will also push boundaries. Future support will have to look at the new generation of farmers and their needs – it will have to embrace the new developments in digital and agri-tech to support new businesses, large or small. And it will have to encourage inclusion and collaboration of all rural  communities and business to deliver sustainable local services, or open up new markets, including those abroad!

We value the rural, farming and visitor economy and its role as a cornerstone of economic recovery. We have the skills, knowledge and experience, and want to work in partnership to develop solutions for this sector that will secure a vibrant future.

“It is time to broaden our understanding of rural business. Our rural economies are diversifying into new sectors for which new skills and capability in technology and international trade will be essential.”

David Hynd
Head of Rural Services

28% of ALL UK businesses
are in rural areas


82.6% of rural businesses
are NOT involved in agriculture


Rural+ Rural areas have more
businesses per head of population than urban


Business Support Contracts with a focus
on Rural Businesses and Communities


Heart of the Southwest Business Support Service

Heart of the South West Business Support is part of the Rural Growth Network in Devon and Somerset. The service offers an extensive package of advice and support to aid business growth and is delivered through a wide range of local business support organisations and specialist advisers. The aim is to create a sustainable rural economy through developing a network of rural enterprise hubs.

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Devon Food & Drink Manufacturing Support Service

New support is now available under the Heart of the south West Business Support Service for food and drink manufacturers based in Devon. The Devon County Council funded project offers a range of business support services including: a limited amount of voucher funding for businesses looking to make a step change; Funding towards skills training for your employees and access to free online marketing tools to help you put your marketing plans into action, boost sales and stay ahead of the competition.


Superfast business logo

Superfast Broadband Business Support in the South West of England

In close partnership with seven Local Authorities in the South West; Devon, Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire and Dorset we are leading a consortium to provide targeted demand stimulation, business advice, partnership development and a small element of capital support.

This is a £12m project split by £6m ERDF and £6m match funding. Our service is delivered through, and in partnership with the existing business support network. This ensures demand stimulation and Superfast Broadband application is woven into all local business support. We have a unique approach to knowledge transfer – ensuring that a platform and high value content are available to all stakeholders to demonstrate the benefits and opportunities associated with Superfast Broadband take-up.

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Get up to speed logo

Get up to Speed

A support service designed to help businesses and communities across Devon and Somerset improve their technology skills and knowledge. The service offers information locally through events, workshops and other community support activities, allowing businesses. communities and residents to fully harness the benefits of current or future faster broadband. The ‘Get up to Speed’ service is delivered by the Cosmic Peninsula Consortium, which brings together the expertise and experience of Cosmic and Serco Employment, Skills and Enterprise to deliver projects employing technology alongside innovation to support individuals, strengthen communities and grow businesses.

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