The programme has been operating since 1994, assisting people in the Bideford area  to go self-employed or start a small business.

The Programme is managed by Mike Lillis, and is funded by the Bideford Bridge Trust.

Applicants are given advice and guidance and, if appropriate, are supported in submitting an application for a start-up grant.

Applicants have a business adviser allocated to support them in producing a Business Plan and in making a 'pitch' to the grant awarding panel.

Grant Funding

Successful applicants can receive up to £3,000 as a start-up grant.

Grants can't be used to purchase a vehicle, but most other business expenses would be eligible.

Successful applicants are given either a 'one off' grant or a 'first year' grant. Those awarded a first year grant can, with the support of Mike Lillis, apply for a second year grant at the end of their first 12 months of trading.   The total grant available including start-up and second year is £5,000.


To be eligibe for a grant the applicant has to reside in the Bideford or immediate surrounding area. Applicants can not have been trading for more that 3 months at the time of submitting their Business Plan to Mike Lillis. (See news for any amendments to the eligibility requirements - applications from some occupations are occasionally suspended)

Application Process

Applicants have an initial advisory meeting to discuss their business idea, and to explain the grant application process.The adviser then assists the applicant in the preparation of their Business Plan.

Once the business plan is prepared, it is passed to the adviser who submits it to the Bideford Bridge Trust.

A grants panel is convened, usually monthly, at which two of the trustees discuss the business proposal with the applicant and decide whether to award a grant.

If successful, the applicant receives a grant cheque within a couple of weeks.

Successful applicants can receive follow up support from their adviser over the next 12 months and assistance in applying for the second year grant.


For more information, to check eligibility, or to arrange an initial advisory meeting, contact Mike Lillis at: