Skip to main content
Contact us Sign up to our mail list
The Deck

We are based at The Deck in the Innovation Centre on Streatham Campus. The Deck is a collaborative workspace for student entrepreneurs to work on their business ideas or to meet a member of our team for 1-2-1 appointments. The space is also used for weekly startup workshops and classes for  modules.

Pre-Incubator Programme
Startup Incubator Programme
SETsquared Exeter

At SETsquared Exeter we help University of Exeter students become successful entrepreneurs through numerous activities and facilitating networking and collaboration opportunities. 
Find out more >>

Follow us on social media

Student Startups

Student Startups

Student Startups Programmes

Whether you have the seed of an idea and don't know where to start, or you have an established business model and are ready to start trading, the Student Startups team are here to support your entrepreneurial ambitions.

Our entry-level Pre-Incubator programme and follow-on Incubator programme run in Terms 1 and 2, and are designed to support you from the business idea stage through to launch, through workshops, peer-to-peer network building, 1:1 advice, and access to early-stage funding.

Outside of our core programmes, we hold regular drop-in sessions, workshops and events, that are open to all in the University community.

Whether you want to launch a new app, start a social enterprise, develop an innovative new product or simply flex those entrepreneurial muscles to see how it feels, the Student Startups team would love for you to get involved.

Please find further details of our programmes below.

The Startup Pre-Incubator Programme is the first stage in building the foundations of an established business idea. Our 8-week programme includes core foundation workshops, inspirational speaker events and masterclasses. There will be demo events introducing you to the wider Exeter ecosystem. You will have the opportunity to pitch for Market Validation funding of up to £500 to test the viability of your idea.

Who can apply?

This programme is open to all students, from all disciplines, and recent graduates (up to 2 years). To join the programme you should be able to:

  • Identify why you are interested in exploring an entrepreneurial pathway
  • Articulate either a problem that you wish to solve through an entrepreneurial solution or an idea that you want to explore further.

Dates and deadlines: 

Applications for the Autumn 2023 Pre-Incubator programme are now open!

Please complete the form here to apply. Applications close on Sunday 8th October. 

Pre-Incubator sessions run on Wednesday afternoons 3-4.30pm in-person in Exeter and Penryn. 

The Autumn programme runs Wednesday 18th October-Wednesday 8th December.

The Startup Incubator programme is an intensive programme, designed to take you from validation to launch and to support you in building a viable and sustainable business. Successful applicants should have completed the Startup Pre-Incubator programme and will be able to clearly demonstrate a viable and sustainable business idea. Participants will have access to professional services, skills development masterclasses and 1-1 mentoring from the Startup Team. There will be demo events introducing participants to the wider Exeter ecosystem and the opportunity to pitch for Startup funding of up to £3500 to launch and develop new ventures.

On the Incubator programme, you will benefit from:

  • Weekly/Fortnightly Masterclasses, to be held on Microsoft Teams
  • Critical Friends Framework enabling peer-to-peer advice & support
  • Monthly 1-2-1 with a designated member of the Startup Team (including Entrepreneurs in Residence)
  • Demo event at end of the programme to pitch for further funding

Who can apply?

The Startup Incubator is open to all students from all disciplines, and recent graduates (up to 2 years out of university). It’s a competitive process, places are limited and applications will be shortlisted by a panel. To apply to the programme you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate participation in the University’s Startup Pre-Incubator programme (see details above) or be able to demonstrate a solid understanding of core entrepreneurial competencies
  • Demonstrate commitment and entrepreneurial ambition
  • Present a viable business idea/opportunity and be in the process of/have undertaken some initial market research and analysis to demonstrate the viability of your idea/product/service

Dates and deadlines:

Applications for the Autumn 2023 Incubator programme are now open!

Please complete the form here to apply. Applications close on Sunday 8th October. 

Incubator sessions run online on Friday mornings 10-11.30am.

The Autumn programme runs Friday 13th October-Friday 15th December.

Interested in the Student Startups programmes but don't have a business idea? Introducing Idea Generation Workshops!

Join us to explore practical, creative ways to generate new start-up ideas and to meet other innovators and change-makers.

Our idea generation workshop is designed to help students explore problems and challenges they are passionate about, and devise an entrepreneurial solution to positively impact the world around them.

  • Meet the Student Startups team
  • Explore our startup co-working space, The Deck
  • Develop a new purpose-driven idea or venture
  • Become a change-maker!

Our idea generation workshops will be held fortnightly throughout term. Please find Autumn workshop dates below:

Got an early-stage idea and want some advice?

The Student Startups team host weekly drop-in Q&A sessions via Microsoft Teams for students or graduates to pop in and chat with us about their business idea. Anyone can join a drop-in session, regardless of whether you are currently enrolled on a Student Startups programme.

Drop-ins run every Tuesday from 2-3pm. Please contact the Student Startup team to request a link to access the session. 

The Student Startup Inspiration Talks are curated to bring together a diverse line-up of entrepreneurs from across different sectors and at different stages in their journey. Each event will centre around a specific theme and we will invite guest speakers to give a brief talk about their startup story and then follow-up with a moderated panel-style discussion around the theme of that talk. There will also be opportunity for you to ask questions and dig deeper into individual stories and it’s a great opportunity to be inspired by a wide range of different founders and ventures.

Who can attend?

Inspiration Talks are open to all in the University of Exeter’s community– students, graduates, staff. You don’t have to be in one of our core programmes to join a talk and it’s a great place to dive in and get a flavour of who we are and what we do.

The Summer Startup Bootcamp is designed to support you in taking the next steps in your entrepreneurial journey.

The Summer Startup Bootcamp is an intensive 3 days, packed with valuable workshops, activities and opportunities for networking and collaboration. We will work with you to further explore and develop your entrepreneurial ideas and equip you with the skills and resources required to go from idea to launch and to build a viable and sustainable new business’. There will be opportunity to work with other like-minded people, to explore topics such as customer discovery and market validation; to discuss the pros and cons of different business models and to develop valuable pitching and presentation skills. You will end the Bootcamp more confident in being able to articulate your start-up idea to others, equipped with new skills and experience and with a clear plan of next steps on your start-up journey.

This Bootcamp is open to all students, from all disciplines and recent graduates of up to 3 years. We welcome all ideas and experience and can’t wait to work with you and help you bring your ventures to life.

Dates and deadlines:

Applications are now closed. To get involved with our next programme, register your interest for the Autumn Pre-Incubator.

Additional opportunities

Below are details of other opportunities available to you on your Startup journey, through a range of partners we work with.

Elevate is a ground-breaking entrepreneurial competition supporting students to develop innovative ideas that benefit the UK’s economy and society. Students are encouraged to think big, embrace their creativity and develop innovative ideas which demonstrate their capacity to deliver commercial and societal value.

Have an idea for a new innovation or technology?

Pitch your business idea to our expert panel for a share of a £3000 prize, plus the opportunity to pitch at the national Engineers in Business Competition in Autumn 2023.

Key Dates

  • Idea Development session - Thursday 9 February 15:00 -16:00 at the Deck
  • Optional application Q&A drop-in – online – Thursday 23 February 12:00 -12:30
  • Deadline: Applications to the competition close on Midnight, Sunday 26 February 2023
  • Final Pitch Event - Thursday 9 March (pitches between 14:00 and 18:00)

Who can apply?

Open to all students but there must be at least one engineer in the team.

Listen to Exeter graduate, James Tetlow - Startup category Runner-Up in the 2021 National Final. 


Contact: Amber Strong

For more information, click here.

Enactus is Exeter University’s Social Enterprise society; just one of a larger network of student societies spread across Universities all over the world.

Enactus create projects that tackle global issues such as poverty, waste or homelessness. Enactus Local and International projects see a problem, use entrepreneurial action to find a solution and improve the lives of the individuals and communities that we work with.

Enactus society use The Deck space on a weekly basis and have launched numerous sustainable business projects including Urban Mushroom Co, Biosmart and Altr.d clothing.

Find out more >>

Exeter Entrepreneurs is the University of Exeter's society for people that are business minded with an interest in entrepreneurial skills. Events run by the society give you the opportunity to network with top entrepreneurs and employers and develop a startup idea through skills workshops, mentoring, hackathons and pitch events.

Find out more >>

Your participation in Student Startups makes you well suited to apply to take part in the University’s new Intrapreneurial Knowledge Exchange Enterprise Pathway (IKEEP) programme.

IKEEP is a free ‘intrapreneurial’ (entrepreneurship within an organisation) training programme delivered online that focuses on intrapreneurial skills such as business model development, creative problem solving and team working. 

Upon completion of the innovation training students will receive a digital badge.

There is no new student uptake for IKEEP at the current time. Please check this page for updates.


Can your innovative ideas transform the automotive retail industry? Could you shape an idea to help car dealers improve their operational efficiency or enhance the car buying or ownership experience? Would you like to win £11,000? Come to take part in Keyloop Dealer Tech Competition!

It's a great opportunity for teams of undergraduate and master's students to develop a new tech-focused product idea to change the automotive retail industry. Offering not only the big prizes, the competition gives you the chance to gain first-hand industry experience, learn about the current technology trends and demonstrate your entrepreneurship by developing your tech idea into a product.

Who can apply?

Open to all students and disciplines, teams of 1-6

Dates and deadlines:

In October, Keyloop will offer some virtual Information Sessions to all students who are interested in the competition. In the session, you will be able to find out more about both Keyloop and the competition, what you need to do to enter, the prizes you can win, and ask any questions you might have. You can register your interest on the competition website. By submitting a form online, you will receive an email response from Keyloop with the details on how and when to attend the session(s). You can attend more than one Information Session if you wish, although the content will be the same each time.

For more information on the Keyloop Dealer Tech Competition, visit the website.

Contact: Amber Strong


Natwest have teamed up with Crowdfunder to create a programme for female founder, designed to get your ideas off the ground and help start your business. Back Her Business lets you showcase your business ideas and gives everyone the chance to back women-led businesses through crowdfunded donations. Back Her Business also supports you with coaching, mentoring and collaboration to help you succeed.

Who can apply?

Project owner must identify as a female and must live in the UK. The project must be UK based.

Eligibility Criteria:

Must be either majority (50-100%) owned or controlled by women and/or woman-led (a woman must be responsible for the day-to-day decision making)

Must be a new trading activity i.e. not growing an existing business venture. However, it can be a hobby that has been operating for a period of time but has not yet crossed the annual £1,000 turnover per annum tax threshold at the point of application

If the project is already set up as a registered business or organisation (e.g. limited liability company, charity or social enterprise) then it must not have crossed the annual £1,000 turnover per annum tax threshold at the point of application

Full details and eligibility criteria available here.

Dates and deadlines: