SOCIAL ventures in West Devon are being sought to take advantage of growth and investment support through the Seedbed programme.

Seedbed is one of only ten social incubators/accelerators in the UK, which have received funding from the Cabinet Office to provide investment and a development programme to social ventures. There are businesses with primarily social/environmental objectives, whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or community rather than mainly being paid to shareholders and owners.

Places on the programme are free due to joint investment by the Big Lottery’s Social Incubator Fund and the three partner organisations that are involved in Seedbed to help take social ventures in the South West to the next level.

The Seedbed programme started in April 2015. Having completed their first stage, the foundation stage, in July, the programme is now recruiting social ventures to join them for the development stage.

The programme looks to provide both investment opportunities as well as support to social enterprises and is split into three stages – foundation, development and growth.

The programme will take the strongest social ventures through all three stages, to help those ventures who are able to develop their business and create more impact.

There will be a number of workshops, master classes, coaching and more. Each social venture will be assigned its own coach and/or mentor and all will have access to successful entrepreneurs’ experience and the knowledge of experts and professionals.

Dirk Rohwedder, Seedbed director and director of the Dartington Hall Trust School for Social Entrepreneurs, said: ‘Since we launched the programme in April 2015, we have helped 15 social ventures start their journey to grow their idea, product or service through our Foundation Stage.

‘From our initial recruitment we understand that there are a number of social ventures in the South West that didn’t think the foundation stage of the programme was right for them.

‘We are inviting these social ventures to apply for the second stage of our programme and make use of our development loans.

‘The development stage builds on the work we did in the foundation stage with social ventures to test and develop their business plans.

‘We are now looking for social ventures that have done the groundwork and put in place plans to grow, who need coaching, access to business expertise and financial support to see these plans become a reality.

‘We are very pleased with the results we’ve seen so far and we know that as the programme continues, we’ll be able to help more social ventures to make a real difference in the South West.’

Nicola McCheyne, from Community Energy Plus, said: ‘The programme has provided an opportunity to strategically evaluate the core business model and social value of our venture.

‘The targeted support across strategy, business model canvas, social canvas and pitching has allowed us to sharpen our business plan, develop partnerships and prepare thoroughly for the launch of our new venture, Building Brighter Futures.’

The new recruits will join existing social ventures for the development and growth stages of the South West’s Seedbed accelerator programme, starting in September 2015 and finishing in January 2016.

Each social venture will have access to cutting-edge support to help it grow and become stronger and more sustainable.

The development programme will provide access to social finance loans of up to £50,000 as well as workshops and business coaching, and a £1,000 cash voucher for all participants.

The development stage will focus on product/service development, market testing, trailing and prototyping, as well as brand and investment strategy to help social ventures grow their business, scale their impact and successfully manage their investment.

Applications for the Development Stage of the Seedbed development and loan programme must be in before the deadline of 5pm on Sunday, September 13.

To read more about the Seedbed programme or to receive an application form, visit