Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise with University of Plymouth

Plymouth was the first university in the world to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in recognition of working as a genuine social enterprise, caring for communities and protecting the planet. The University held this accreditation from 2011 to 2018. As well as being a social enterprise in its own right, University of Plymouth acts as a driving force, using world-class research and entrepreneurial expertise to boost social enterprise in the community, helping to drive sustainable growth by creating jobs, wealth and social cohesion. 

Students and staff can enter the Formation Zone Business Challenge, sponsored by Santander Universities, to access support for their business ideas and a prize package. 

Our regular events around social enterprise bring together socially-minded individuals from all over the country to share ideas, knowledge and experiences, and inspire others. We run webinars, workshops and conferences, and are actively developing links with universities internationally to create impact. Recent projects include a global research study on social enterprise and HEIs for the British Council, a pan-European programme providing training tools for vocational trainers, and a joint project with an Indian HEI to create a social enterprise formation zone in Orissa.

UnLtd and HEFCE HE Support Initiative

Social entrepreneurship is a rapidly growing movement within the HE sector and Plymouth University has been chosen as a pioneering partner for the UnLtd and HEFCE HE Support Initiative. Plymouth is one of 56 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in England to partner with UnLtd on this initiative to embed a culture of social entrepreneurship within their institution and across the Higher Education sector. 

Cash grants from £500 are available. The University has a new round of cash awards for budding social entrepreneurs who are Plymouth University staff, students and 2013 graduates. You can register your interest by emailing

Applicants for the UnLtd and HEFCE HE Support Initiative will be able to access the expert help available through the Tectona Business Challenge before submitting an application for funding via a Tectona outline business plan.

Formation Zone Business Challenge

The Formation Zone Business Challenge enables budding staff and student entrepreneurs to access support for their business ideas from competition sponsors. This includes financial, legal and intellectual property protection. Entrants take away a good understanding of how to develop a strong idea into a viable business, with the connections to make it happen through services like Formation Zone and the Cornwall Innovation Centres. Your business plan could win a cash prize or sponsored prize package to help you start your business.

One Stop Ideas Shop

One Stop Ideas Shops are monthly events designed to provide specialist information and guidance on protecting a business idea or product. Specialist guidance is available from a variety of experts including PATLIB UK, University of Plymouth, NJ Akers & Co Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, Francis Clark, Bright Solicitors, Outset Finance and the Social Enterprise – University Enterprise Network (SE-UEN).

Social Enterprise Mark

Plymouth is the first university in the world to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in recognition of working as a genuine social enterprise, caring for communities and protecting the planet. The University held this accreditation from 2011 to 2018.

Social Enterprise City

University of Plymouth supported other organisations in the city's application to Social Enterprise UK to be a 'Social Enterprise City'.

Social Enterprise Zone

Following Plymouth's 'Social Enterprise City' status, Cornwall has been awarded 'Social Enterprise Zone' status from Social Enterprise UK. With so much social enterprise activity in the region, Plymouth is a great place to live, work and study.

Graduate: Dominic List

It’s fantastic to see University of Plymouth supporting social enterprise as a concept as well as doing so much to support the local economy.

Find out more about Dominic's company

Start-up: Story Jug

University of Plymouth has been very supportive of me as I sought to start up a social enterprise company as well as providing such a great atmosphere for me to work in.

Find out more about Joanna's company