A University of Plymouth initiative that nurtures and develops start-up enterprises in the creative industries has reached capacity for the first time since it launched 19 months ago.
Formation Zone has attracted a wide range of businesses, from videogame and website designers to marketing and PR experts. It has proven remarkably recession proof, and has even helped some entrepreneurs to get back on their feet after the setback of redundancy.
Housed in the university’s Roland Levinsky Building, the 21-desk facility provides space, IT facilities, support and guidance from experts and networking opportunities, and has already seen a number of clients flourish and move on to establish their own offices.
Actuate Marketing, a strategic business and marketing development company, is the most recent business to join Formation Zone in September and they’ve already secured a number of clients.
Dave Pearce, Director, said: “The facilities offered by Formation Zone are second-to-none and ideal for a start-up business such as ours which wanted to work in a professional office environment without the risk of a long-term lease.
“The support provided by the Formation Zone team, the location and resources available are all excellent and have allowed us to get off to a flying start. Working close by other start-up businesses has been beneficial to us as it creates an environment to share and test ideas which is hugely important within the creative industries. It has also presented opportunities to work in partnership with other companies within the Formation Zone.
“It’s a major decision to move from full-time employment to setting up a business, particularly during a recession, but the encouragement and support provided has meant this transition has been smooth and successful.”
Formation Zone is currently working with 16 creative enterprises, covering a broad range of creative industries including architecture, photography, graphic design and marketing, web design, game design, publishing and digital media. They also span all stages of business start-up, from individuals who are developing their business idea and undertaking market research right through to those who have accomplished their first year of trading.
Many of the creative enterprises work inside Formation Zone where they hire workspace on a flexible contract that allows them to expand and move on easily. They can tap into a wealth of support services and office space, and take advantage of the networking possibilities.
One of the most recent additions is Mutant Labs, the first client to have come into the zone direct from graduating at the university. The team of five, who met on their Digital Art and Technology course, have dubbed themselves 'media scientists' and specialise in web design, Flash and mobile development, and have been establishing strong ties with companies based in the South West. Formation Zone has been supporting them to get their business off the ground.
Alex Ryley, Managing Director, said: “The comprehensive support and guidance Formation Zone has given us has accelerated our development as a business. Having affordable office space, along with a great support network in the University, has really helped our company take off.”
The University of Plymouth has built on the success of Formation Zone by launching Formation 2.0 to start-up businesses in science, technology, engineering and maths as part of its Enterprise Solutions service.
Eleanor Butland, Programme Manager of Formation Zone, said: “Reaching capacity for the first time is a huge milestone for Formation Zone and a highlight for the University of Plymouth’s enterprise activity. We’re now having a real impact on the creative sector here and will continue to develop our service.
“The doors are still open to new applicants, so please get in touch with us to register your interest.”