Always wanted your own tech startup? START is here to make that a reality

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START is the new free initiative designed to take you from idea to starting and scaling your own tech company. A West of England Combined Authority funded programme, led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), in collaboration with University of Bristol, the  University of Bath, Bath Spa University and techSPARK, the team are searching for budding entrepreneurs to elevate their idea to the next level.

The programme will provide a package of support for 150 pre-start and early formation tech/digital businesses across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset.

Particularly keen to hear from individuals in underrepresented communities and those living in rural areas, START is now accepting applications for the first cohort. The programme is looking for applicants who are at the ‘just an idea’ stage. If you think “START probably isn’t for me”, then the team definitely want to hear from you! You can easily register your interest on the START website here today or give them a call on +44 (0) 117 32 86238.

The first cohort will be open to people wishing to register their interest from todaywith a half a day intro session in early March. After speaking to you and learning more about what you’d like to achieve, the START team will review your idea. You’ll hear back shortly afterwards, but if you’re not successful this time around, don’t be discouraged. The START team is happy to provide all the support you need to keep developing your idea in time for the next round of applications.

START is all about helping people in the West of England be successful with their ideas. If you’re accepted onto the course, START will give you access to 28 hours of intensive training, supplemented by 1-2-1 mentoring and sessions from successful founders and experts.

Anyone completing the programme will also have a chance to win additional free support in one of our leading incubators, including UWE BRISTOL’s Launch Space.

The Universities that are supporting START have a fantastic track record in supporting ideas and startups. As Tess O’Shea, founder from Seatox says, “There’s a lot of support here, sessions, one-to-ones. It just feels like you’re well looked after.” Tess is just one example from the University of the West of England’s Launch Space.

Tracey John, Director Research, Business & Innovation, UWE Bristol said: “We are thrilled to be leading this exciting new initiative for budding tech founders in the West of England. It’s fantastic to be collaborating with the University of Bristol, University of Bath, Bath Spa University and techSPARK to deliver this support over the next two years. Collectively, we have supported significant economic growth in the West of England, and ‘Start’ will further enhance the region’s offer for tech start-ups.

The UK tech sector is thriving, with start-up numbers leading in Europe, but there are significant imbalances with the make-up of founders. START will work with individuals at the very beginning of their journey to maximise opportunities for success, and, through accessible and equitable opportunities, we hope to attract more women and more people with disabilities to build successful businesses in the region.”

Richard Ennis Interim Acting Chief Executive of the West of England Combined Authority said: “Across the region, there are thousands of innovative people with a great idea for a new tech start up, but who are unsure of how to turn this concept into a business.

We are delighted to fund the START project which will provide much needed support for those at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey and bring all manner of growth and new skills to the West of England”.

Abby Frear, Director of TechSPARK said: “We’re so excited to be launching Start in collaboration with WECA and the four West of England universities, especially as it’s an initiative dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive region. At techSPARK we’re fortunate to spend a lot of time with startups and founders, so we know the challenges they face. Start represents an amazing opportunity to provide the mentoring and skills that early-stage founders need to create a business and have the tools and support to scale it.”


START is a new and exciting pilot programme for the West of England region and will be delivered by a consortium of four universities: The University of the West of England, (UWE Bristol), The University of Bristol, The University of Bath, and Bath Spa University.

Led by UWE Bristol, partnered with techSPARK, the programme is funded by the West of England Combined Authority, and will provide a package of support and development for 150 pre-start and early formation tech/digital businesses across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset.

We support founders at the very earliest stages of their journey to give them a better chance of success, and through inclusive and equitable recruitment processes and programme design, we will seek to address the underrepresentation of tech founders who are women, disabled, and/or from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse backgrounds.

For more information contact

By email:

By phone: +44 (0)117 32 86238

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