September 2019

The Trust has removed its ban on start-up grant applications from the 'building trades'.  However, places at the grant panels are now booked until the end of 2019, so new applications will be considered at the start of 2020.

May 2019

Due to the high number of successful applicants from the 'building trade' in the past 12 months, the Bideford Bridge Trust are unlikely to accept further grant applications from these tradesmen for the next 12 months.

February 2019

New grant applicants in Hairdressing are not being considered before next September (see below). The Bideford Bridge Trust has now added all beauty therapists to this list (beuticians, nail technicians etc).  Therefore, applicants for beauty therapy businesses will not be considered for the next 12 months.

December 2018

The Business Start-up Programme commences again in January 2019 and the Bideford Bridge Trust has increased the grant budget for 2019 by 20%.

We wish a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year to all those awarded a grant in 2018.

October 2018

There will be no more business start-up grants awarded in 2018. 

The programme will commence again in January 2019 and it is anticipated that there will be a high level of demand.

Applications are dealt with on a 'first come first serve' basis, so those considering applying shouldn't delay.

September 2018

The Bideford Bridge Trust has awarded a number of start-up grants to applicants wishing to start hairdressing businesses in recent years and want these to have the time to get established.  They have, therefore, decided that they will not award any further grants to hairdressing start-ups for the next 12 months.  This will be reviewed again in September 2019.

Anyone considering making a grant application to the Bideford Bridge Trust start-up programme should be aware that the budget has been capped this year. It is, therefore, possible that the funding may be used up before the end of the calendar year, so if applying don't delay!

December 2017

Following a recent performance analysis of the past 5 years it was found that the Bideford Bridge Trust has awarded 147 start-up grants during this period. A comparison of the business survival against the national figure is shown below:

Business Survival

Bideford Start-Up

UK comparison

After 2 years



After 3 years



After 4 years




October 2017

Almost time for the Business Start-Up show at Olympia on 16th & 17th November. Are you going?  See more and order free tickets at


August 2017

The Bideford Bridge Trust have now awarded 30 Business Start-up grants to local people in 2017!

July 2017

Potential applicants to the Bideford Bridge Trust Start-Up Grant Programme should be aware that, until further notice, the trustees will only consider three applications each month.  Due to the high number of applicants, this will mean that there will be a longer time period than usual between initial contact and grant outcome.

June 2017

Considered buying a business? Have a look at:


 May 2017

Recent reports show that business blogging can result in almost 70 percent more B2B marketing leads and 97 percent more inbound links to the website. Blogging for business can attract traffic to your website, which in turn may increase your conversion rates.

See these 5 tips:  https://www.theselfemployed.com/marketing/blog-way-success-5-tips-improving-business-online-presence/

March 2017

Going self-employed and wondering when to register with HMRC:

Register if you're self-employed. You'll need to register for Self Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance as soon as you can after starting your business. You need to do this even if you've completed tax returns before. Register by 5 October in your business's second tax year

Register as Self-Employed - Gov.uk


February 2017

Need inspiration, look at How they grew: business success stories at startups.co.uk


December 2016

Wishing all current, and past, successful start-up grant applicants a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Our grant programme continues in 2017, so anyone looking to go self-employed or start a business who lives in the eligible area get in touch to find out more.



November 2016

Get your business noticed, see these 6 PR tips:  http://startups.co.uk/pr-tips-get-new-business-noticed/?inf_contact_key=25f64edeb5da764c254834e6a2a60c4b72be8b091ef797ce87b0422bd1660716



October 2016

Don't miss the Business Show at the Olympia London on the 17th and 18th November.  Free tickets still available from greatbritishbusinessshow.co.uk 

July 2016

The Bideford Bridge Trust are still welcoming applications for business start-up grants from those living in the eligible area.  Those interested in applying for a grant should contact Mike Lillis at startupnorthdevon@gmail.com stating their home address and a brief outline of their business plans.

June 2016

Top news for start-ups, technology events, competitions and more - catch up on all the news at StartUp Britain by visiting www.centreforentrepreneurs.org.uk

May 2016

The 18 biggest equity Crowdfunding rounds of the last year, see the type of businesses attracting funding from the 'crowd' - see: startups.co.uk

April 2016

Effective start-ups often benefit from the advice of other successful business entrepreneurs.  David Grimes, co-founder of multi-award winning My Parcel Delivery in 2010 provides 7 tips that could make the difference between your start-up thriving or failing, see: startups.co.uk

March 2016

The Business Show 2016 will be taking place in London on 28th April - well worth attending!

February 2016

Well done to the latest applicants, grants have been awarded enabling four new businesses to start-up!

The number of applicants for grants are even higher this year than in previous years, but we are always pleased to hear from ne applicants. Contact startupnorthdevon@gmail.com  if interested in applying.


January 2016

Thanks to the Bideford Bridge Trust, the Start-Up grant programme enters into its 24th year of operation - supporting local people in going self-employed and setting up small businesses.


December 2015

We would like to wish all local businesses a Happy Christmas and a successful 2016.


November 2015

The Business StartUp Show at Olympia is now only weeks away, it's free to attend and there are still tickets available.  Have a look at the Show Guide:



October 2015

Why not consider attending the Business StartUp Show at Olympia London on the 3rd and 4th of December - there are 25,000 businesses, 250 seminars, 350 exhibitors, 12 masterclasses and it's Free-To-Attend !!


September 2015

If you have an invention, design or product that needs protecting, have a look at:



August  2015

The Leader 5 Rural Development Programme will shortly be going live, so get your proposals in now by using their Project Ideas Form 

which can be returned to Katy Graham at North Devon Plus.  http://www.northdevonplus.com/leader-5.html


July  2015

Startups.co.uk have guides for those looking to start-up in a wide range of business types, why not have a look - it might give you inspiration or tips to be successful 

see:  http://startups.co.uk/start-up-guides/?inf_contact_key=47161f3c2615b1a95402a3386d8c0f0edbdaac0bf896ec91e41fab4d1f73ee1e


June  2015

The website building service provider, Yola, is trying to encourage and support new business start-ups  see:



May 2015

The Prince’s Trust Explore Enterprise Course is being run on the following dates:

  • Barnstaple 12th – 15th May

  • Exeter 16th – 19th June

  • Plymouth 23rd – 26th June

  • The Prince’s Trust Explore Enterprise course is a four day exploration of the skills and requirements a person will need to become self employed, the courses are run by Damon Foster and Charlie Huitson with the help of volunteers to The Trust who have a wealth of experience in self employment and business.  Over the four days they will look at the following subjects

Day 1: The skills needed for self employment, self employment vs. employment and issues surrounding debt.

Day 2:  Marketing and sales.

Day 3:  Tax and bookkeeping.

Day 4:  Business plan writing and meet the mentors.

Participants on the course can benefit post course via mentoring and financial help via a Will it Work test trading grant of up to £250.00 and should they wish to start up in business, they can benefit from a low interest loan at 6% to get started of up to £4000.00.

The eligibility for entry to the course is the young person be aged between 18-30, be unemployed or in employment less than 16 hours or be in education less than 12 hours per week or not at all.

Anyone interested should contact: 

Hollie Nolan | Enterprise Outreach Executive | Prince's Trust 

4th Floor, Inter City House, Plymouth Station, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 6A

T: 01752 251051 | M: 07425632049


April 2015

Going to Business Start-Up at the Business Show 14-15th May at ExCel Centre London  -  worth a visit!!

March 2015

Research conducted by Inform Direct has found that 2014 was a record year for new Start-ups in Devon.

Their findings show that 570 new businesses started up in North Devon and Torridge districts during the year.

See:  http://www.informdirect.co.uk/company-formations-2014/devon/

February 2015

Leader 5 will not be available in North Devon now until after the General Election in May, see:  http://www.northdevonplus.com/what-we-do/leader5.aspx

for updates.

Thinking of starting a business?  7 tips on what to do before starting, see:  http://startups.co.uk/starting-a-business-7-things-you-need-to-do-first/?inf_contact_key=14103a7c290ff95455556b6a89b8eb4f3fe2e249ee2d3690fe3578ae919734f1

January 2015

Happy New Year!

Lets hope it will be a good one for businesses in North Devon.

New start-ups and existing businesses might be able to benefit from grants through the Leader 5 Programme. The announcement of grant availability has been delayed now until April. Information and links will be provided once available.


December 2014

Happy Christmas to all entrepreneurs and businesses in North Devon - especially to those who have been successful in receiving grants from the Bideford Bridge Trust!

'As the industry-leader, Business Startup is free for anyone thinking about starting a business or expanding a business.'

Business StartUp (32)

 November 2014

The Business StartUp Show at Olympia London on the 27th & 28th November is worth a visit for any new start-up, or would be entrepreneur.

See you there:  http://www.bstartup.com/

'We need to get beyond the stereotypes and realize that older entrepreneurs are going to better the world.'

                                                                                                 Vivek Wadhwa

November 2014

You don't have to be young, to be an entrepreneur, see Guest Post at Venture Beat : http://venturebeat.com/


'We find that small firms are fulfilling a vital role in the public sector supply chain, supplying key services to local authorities across the country. They are winning contracts across all categories of spending, with particular success in both the social care and construction sectors.'

CFE Report 'Spend Small'

 October 2014

The CFE have undertaken research into Local Government spending/procurement with Small Businesses

see: http://www.spendsmall.org/assets/Procurement%20Report%20WEB.pdf

They have found that 'authorities with large overall expenditure were no more likely to spend money with small firms'. They found size of authority, and political party control, made no significant difference.

They recommend that authorities do more to increase their spending on small firms and one of their recommendations is that -

'Every local authority should have a small-firm procurement champion'

Devon County Council had a small business spend of 12.94%, putting it in 79th place out of the local authority league table of 150 councils.

“It doesn't matter where you're from - or how you feel... There's always peace in a strong cup of coffee.” 

Gabriel Ba - Daytripper

September 2014

Considering starting a coffee shop business, have a look at :



" without start-ups and young businesses you cannot have growth in the economy and new job creation.” 

Doug Richard - Founder School for StartUps and former 'dragon'


August 2014

Doug Richard is coming to Barnstaple on the 10th September!

School for Startups founder and original Dragon from BBC's Dragon's Den will take you through his top tips for starting a business and getting the funding you need .

By helping you identify your proposition, market segment, funding options, and everything in between, Doug will demonstrate his teaching method and give you the opportunity to explore ways in which you can start or grow your big idea or new business

See:  http://www.schoolforstartups.co.uk/southwest/barnstaple-2/



"Information update for potential Bideford Bridge Trust applicants"

Mike Lillis


July 2014

Notice regarding Bideford Bridge Trust Start-Up Programme

Over the years, the Trust has awarded grants to a wide range of businesses in Bideford and the surrounding area.

Clearly the trustees are keen that those businesses awarded a grant go on to become established and successful. It is aware that awarding grants to similar, potentially competing, businesses within a similar time frame could impact on both and be detrimental to all.

The trust, therefore, on occasions decide to not award business start-up grants to those in certain sectors where they might conflict with other recent applicants whose grant applications were successful.  

As part of this policy No grants will be awarded to new applicants looking to start a gardening business for the next 12 months



"The public perception of entrepreneurship can have a strong influence on people's desire to become entrepreneurs."

The Centre for Entrepreneurs


July 2014

The CFE believe the media have an important role to play in shaping the public perception of entrepreneurs and the startup process. It is therefore important that they understand the impact of their programming and their responsibility to ensure that the portrayal of entrepreneurship is reflective of reality.

The two most prominent TV programmes about entrepreneurship, Dragons' Den and The Apprentice, project an inaccurate representation of entrepreneurs and the start-up process. As shown below, a YouGov survey commissioned by the Centre for Entrepreneurs found that 61% of small business leaders thought The Apprentice "off-putting" for aspiring entrepreneurs and that 88% thought that contestants were chosen to appear because they would make good television, rather than because they offer credible investment opportunities. This negative and inaccurate portrayal of entrepreneurs is disconcerting because it could result in a negative impact on the uptake of entrepreneurship.

What do you think? read more:  http://www.centreforentrepreneurs.org/campaign/value-of-entrepreneurs



"Some 80% of your life is spent working. You want to have fun at home; why shouldn’t you have fun at work?”

Richard Branson

June 2014

Entrepreneurs keep in touch with what is happening at the:

Centre for Entrepreneurs <info=centreforentrepreneurs.org@mail294.us3.mcdlv.net>



"Some of the most exciting startups come out of the South West, and I am thrilled to be in the Region this year"

Doug Richard - School for Startups CEO and former BBC Dragon

May 2014

Entrepreneurs in the South West still have time to apply for 250 free places on a School for Startup course. The course would usually cost £1,000, but is free of charge, and is designed especially for the South West.

Interested see:  www.schoolforstartups.co.uk/southwest

"Could Crowdfunding be the answer to your start-up and growth funding needs"?


April 2014

Crowdfunding enables people with a great idea for a start-up, or an opportunity for growth, to ask 'the crowd' for the funding they need. The project owner sets a target for the money it wants to raise and explains how it will use the funding. People can then make pledges for small amounts of money in return for a reward if the target is reached.

See: http://crowdfunding.northdevonjournal.co.uk/projects/wlprojects



“This competition represents a great opportunity for small businesses in search of much-needed funding.

StartUp Britain has partnered with Intuit to provide SMBs with a simple chance to boost their business with the offer of extra cash.”

StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones


March 2014

Intuit UK, together with StartUp Britain, has launched “Small Business Local Buzz”, a national competition offering £20,000 of funding to British start-ups and business owners. To participate, businesses need to enter a ‘wish’ on www.SupportSmallBusiness.co.uk outlining why they believe they should qualify for funding, and then use social channels to drum up support from their customers and supporters to vote for them.



"British entrepreneurs created a record number of new businesses in 2013"

StartUp Britain announcement January 27

February 2014

See http://www.startupbritain.co/news/2014-01-26/new-figures-reveal-regional-entrepreneurial-hotspots

North Devon and Torridge have more start-ups than many other rural places around the UK - lets see if we can increase that number even further!

Funding is still the key issue for many considering self-employment or starting a micro-business - North Devon residents need a start-up grants programme similar to that provided by the Bideford Bridge Trust for Bideford area residents.


“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

 C.S. Lewis

January 2014

Happy New Year to all those that started in 2013 with the help of a Bideford Bridge Trust grant.

A new year starts with grants available to help new start-ups in the Bideford area.  Anyone interested in applying should look at the information on the Bideford Business Start-up page of the website, or email Mike Lillis at startupnorthdevon@gmail.com


 '74% of people polled said that the internet is where traders need to be' -

Guardian Professional


December 2013

Considering using ecommerce to sell your products? See:


"Running a business can be difficult and challenging. It’s also an exhilarating experience and can be extremely rewarding"

Meghan Fenn - Designer & Entrepreneur


November 2013

See you at the BUSINESS SHOW 2013 Olympia London


November the 18th to 24th is Global Entrepreneurship Week, this year's theme being take a step forward  -check out the events at http://www.gew.org.uk/about



"My message is simple: if you have drive, determination and are prepared to work hard, we will back you"

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP



September 2013

Government could do much more to help business start-ups, particularly amongst the LTU, by looking at what works eg. Bideford Business Start-Up Programme. However, all contributions are to be welcomed!

The Prime Minister has announced more funding for the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme and for Start-Up loans. More loans will available for the over 30's and for ex-Service personnel.


New Enterprise Allowance at GOV.UK


"If there is anything a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance"

Abraham Lincoln

August 2013

Why not use your skills to start a business - help is out there and you could be a big success!


"The secret of getting ahead is getting started"

-Mark Twain

July 2013

2013 is proving to be a record year with more applicants coming forward to the Bideford Business Start-Up Programme than in any previous year! Applicants are looking to start a wide range of different businesses - entrepreneurism abounds in North Devon!! 


"When times are bad is when the real entrepreneurs emerge"

- Robert Kiyosaki

June 2013

If you have the right idea, and you are determined to make it work, give self-employment a go!


"When it comes to business, I am the complete package and when it comes to sales, I’m the best"

- James Caan 

May 2013

I’m attending the Business Startup Conference on 6th 7th June at ExCeL, London. Free tickets available here www.thebusinessshow.co.uk

James Caan is one of the speakers


"The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows."
- Aristotle Onassis

April 2013

If you have an idea, a skill, or are aware of a demand that you can meet, why not give self-employment a try. If you live in the Bideford area look into the possibility of a Bideford Bridge Trust grant. Contact Mike Lillis on startupnorthdevon@gmail.com


"Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools"

- Napoleon Bonaparte 

March 2013

If you have the passion, a well thought through plan and the determination to achieve, nothing is impossible.


"I do not believe a man can ever leave his business. He ought to think of it by day and dream of it by night."

- Henry Ford

February 2013

I am currently seeing a large number of people who are looking at going self-employed and set up 'in business'. The evidence shows that clients that have gone self-employed over the past 12 months are generally doing very well. Those that are being most successful are the ones that have managed to operate with low overhead costs.

Effective pre-start business planning remains the key to a successful start-up and those that have received a small start-up grant, to cover initial business costs, are making the best progress.

The Bideford Business Start-Up Programme

"Small and start-up business are the driving force of the British economy and at StartUp Britain we have seen plenty to celebrate over 2012"

- Emma Jones

January 2013

A record number of people are looking to go self employed or start-up new businesses, 10% more started in 2012 than 2011.

Why not consider starting a business in 2013, there are opportunities out there!



"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
- Albert Einstein

December 2012

Thanks to the Bideford Bridge Trust, the Bideford Business Start-Up programme continues to help new businesses in the area by the awarding of start-up grants.

December has seen a further three applicants receive grants of £3,000 each, and three other businesses be awarded a second year grant to help them to continue to develop.

Through this programme, the Bideford Bridge Trust continues to support individuals and their families, and give a boost to the local economy.

The Bideford Business Start-Up Programme


"If you're walking down the right path and you are willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress" 
- Barack Obama  

November 2012

North Devon Plus are now operating Enterprise Clubs, which are free to join, in Bideford, Barnstaple, South Molton and Holsworthy

 Read more at   http://www.northdevonplus.com/what-we-do/enterprise_clubs.aspx


"If you're 70% sure about an idea then go for it. Because if you wait till you're 100% confident in business… you'll never make a decision, you'll never get anywhere." - Richard Reed (Innocent Drinks)

October 2012

Most TV programmes that feature business start-ups are good in that they encourage the 'entrepreneurial spirit' and give some ideas to would be start-ups.

The BBC "Be Your Own Boss" is worth a watch http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00x1f1m


“ Few people do business well who do nothing else" - Lord Chesterfield

September 2012

I am delighted that the Bideford Bridge Trust have asked Mike Lillis to continue to deliver the Bideford Business Start-up Programme. Start-up grants of up to £3,000 are available to people living in the Bideford area. Contact Mike Lillis on startupnorthdevon@gmail.com


“ The highest reward for a persons toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it" - John Ruskin 

August 2012

After 28 years of providing support to the people and communities of North Devon, it is sad to report that Bideford based charity Torridge Training Services (TTS) has gone into administration. St. Loyes has taken over the contract to operate the 'Work Programme'.

Many excellent people have lost their jobs, but I am sure that they will soon be back in employment and using their skills again for the benefit of the area.

I would like to thank the organisation for the work it has done over the years, thank all the staff, past and present, and wish those that have lost their jobs all the best for the future.


“ I definitely had good moments but I think the moments that motivated me most were losing on the biggest stage and just never forgetting that feeling."

- American Allyson Felix, the three-time 200m world champion who finally won Olympic gold in 2012

August 2012

Starting up a business is an adventure, and there will be setbacks and disappointments. Just like an Olympic Champion, you need to learn from your setbacks and have the determination to beat your competitors - no champion ever achieved without hard work, strategic planning and commitment!

For people living in the Bideford area, in addition to the Bridge Trust Grants Scheme, there is now support available from the 'Seaside Success Fund' see



“Start with you heart  and then engage your mind"  James Caan - Entrepreneur

July 2012

Startup Britain have, in partnership with the BIS, introduced a Start-up  loans scheme for young people looking to start a business - check out www.startupbritain.org/loans/


“You should think carefully about how you can be different - and better - than your potential competitors, and what makes you more innovaitve

and distinctive"  Peter Jones Entrepreneur and 'Dragon'

June 2012

Successful start-ups need to know their market well and have a clear strategy for outperforming their competitors. Whether it be through having a unique product, how you promote yourself, or through excellent customer service, show your customer how you are different.


“We want 2012 to be the year of enterprise, where entrepreneurs can unlock their business potential"  

Mark Prisk Business and Enterprise Minister 

May 2012

The Startup Britain Calendar on the Startup Britain website shows training and events for would be entrepreneurs. Look out for events in North Devon later in 2012 on their calendar or on the startupnorthdevon.co.uk website.



"There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way" Christopher Morley 

April 2012

Self employment in North Devon is a good option for many unemployed people. However, it is difficult to take the initial leap without some funding support. A small up-front grant can make all the difference to individuals 'taking the plunge' and being successful. An initial grant is a good investment as it takes the unemployed off benefits and is good for families and the local communities.

We are appealing to the government, and to philanphropists, to help us put together a grant 'funding pot' to help more people to go self-employed and start small businesses in North Devon.



"Your job is to uncover your product's value, and therefore your company's value, in your customer's life"  Cheryl D. Rickman

March 2012

Startup Britain has chosen Mike Lillis to be their Startup Champion for North Devon - watch this space for more information 




"The man who trades freedom for security usually ends up with neither"  Benjamin Franklin

February 2012

Being self-employed can enable you to have more control over your destiny. If it is right for you, why hesitate, give it a try!

Good news for people in the Bideford area as the Bideford Business Start-Up grant has increased to £5,000 - thanks to the Bideford Bridge Trust.

Contact mlillis@onetel.net for more information.



 "You fail if you don't try"  Richard Branson

January 2012

It is a new year and perhaps the time to make a new start, self employment can be very rewarding, if it is right for you, why not give it a go!

We are looking forward to helping more people across Northern Devon with their business start-ups. The existing projects are delivered through Torridge Training (TTS) and Westward Pathfinder, two local charities that have been making a big contribution to the area for many years.

If you are considering self-employment, or starting a business, please get in touch with us.



"If I was starting out today, I'd be thinking what are my strengths that that will earn me a great livelihood and the freedom to do what I want" 

Dame Anita Roddick

December 2011

 The Bideford Business Start-Up programme has had another good year, thanks to the Bideford Bridge Trust and Torridge Training Services.

17 new business start-ups were awarded a full grant and one received an interest free loan.

The Bideford Town Centre has benefitted from having 6 new retail outlets.

We look forward to a lot more start-ups in 2012.



"Cashflow is everything. In terms of small business there is only one rule to be very rich and that is don't run out of cash"

Simon Woodroffe

November 2011

A big thank you to the Lloyds TSB Foundation  for providing Westward Pathfinder with funding to support the 'New Starts' Project for the next two years.

The funding will enable advice and guidance to be given to unemployed people considering a new business or self-employment.

We are also trying to put together a funding pot to provide some financial help for new start-ups.

We welcome enquiries from potential start-ups and would like to hear from anyone able to make a donation to the grant fund, or suggest ways to build up a funding pot.

All help will be greatly appreciated!