Exploring Exeter | A booming economy

Exploring Exeter - Bridgehead

In the midst of picturesque Devon landscapes, Exeter shines as a beacon of history, culture, and economic vitality. In an era of digital evolution, Exeter has emerged as a thriving hub for entrepreneurs and business ventures. Find out why Exeter should be on your UK expansion list.

Economic Vibrancy

With a rapidly growing population exceeding 130,800 in 2021 [1], Exeter is poised to become one of the UK’s fastest-growing economies. Projections from the UK Powerhouse report forecast Exeter’s Gross Value Added (GVA) to soar to £5.5 billion [2], placing it among the top 10 UK cities for GVA growth. 

The city’s cultural heritage seamlessly blends historic landmarks such as Exeter Cathedral and St. Nicholas Priory with trendy shops, restaurants, and art venues, creating a dynamic environment for business growth.

Strategic Infrastructure Investment

Positioned along the vital M5 motorway corridor, Exeter serves as a gateway to the South West and beyond. Its strategic location ensures easy connectivity to major cities such as Bristol and Plymouth. It is supported by robust transportation networks including railway links and an airport. 

Significant investments have been made in infrastructure, such as the £12 million upgrade to Junction 29 of the M5. A  £9m bypass linking the Airport to Skypark, a new train station in Cranbrook as well as £4.5m road improvements at Exeter Airport’s Long Lane and upgraded bus, cycling and walking links. The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone represents the city’s commitment to facilitating business growth and innovation.

Education and Innovation

The health, education, and financial services sectors drive Exeter’s economy.

Anchored by the world-renowned institution, the University of Exeter, their research collaborations and incubator programmes provide invaluable support for startups and budding entrepreneurs. 

Additionally, the Exeter Science Park is home to a diverse array of tech and innovation companies such as the Met Office and serves as a catalyst for cutting-edge research and development.

The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone has a wide range of employment space options, working to fulfil the area’s vision for clean growth and it’s home to many startups.

Championing Sustainability

With a focus on sustainability and achieving net-zero emissions, Exeter is at the forefront of environmental stewardship. The city’s Net Zero Exeter plan and proactive initiatives led by the council’s net zero team underscore its commitment to combating climate change and fostering a greener future.

Innovation Hub for Entrepreneurs

Devon has nearly 58,000 businesses with over 7,000 new businesses formed in 2020. [3] The majority of Devon’s businesses are small to medium enterprises. There is a dynamic micro business community. Devon also has a higher rate of self-employment compared to the UK average.

Support for Local Businesses

Exeter City Council established Exeter Business Centre Ltd in the 1990s. They offer units for arts, retail and office premises. 

Devon County Council’s business support and Innovation team coordinate and deliver a wide range of projects to provide support and guidance for all types of businesses in Devon and the wider region.

The Heart of the South West Growth Hub offers free business advice and support services for established businesses and those looking to start-up in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay. The Growth Hub Advisers link your business with access to support programmes and organisations that can help you start, run or grow your business. 

Exeter chamber of commercethis is the region’s leading independent business membership organisation, connecting businesses, building knowledge and driving prosperity for Exeter and the surrounding area.

Setsquared Exeter – The SETsquared Exeter Business Accelerator was developed to support the Founders of start-ups and small businesses. Located at Exeter Science Park, they run events and networks that bring together innovators, sector experts, and researchers, to provide hands-on support from experienced entrepreneurs.

Success Stories

Intelligent AI An insuretech startup that secured £1m from investors and Innovate UK. They developed an online intelligent risk platform for the commercial property insurance sector that draws in 300 data points, to reduce risks and improve premium accuracy.

Crowdcube is the world’s leading equity crowdfunding platform which helps brands to build communities and raise funds to grow their business.

Degould Ltd is a pioneering engineering firm, DeGould’s award-winning tech provides OEMs with a market-leading, automated solution for digital vehicle inspections, damage detection and specification checks.

Why choose Exeter?

Exeter presents a compelling proposition for businesses seeking to thrive in a dynamic and supportive environment. With its rich cultural heritage, strategic location, commitment to innovation, sustainability initiatives, and burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem, Exeter stands as an ideal destination for your UK business expansion. 



[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/visualisations/censuspopulationchange/E07000041/

[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/visualisations/censuspopulationchange/E07000041/

[3] https://www.devon.gov.uk/economy/business-support/