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How To Apply

The Applications Process

Exeter City Futures is seeking to accelerate the development of new commercial and social enterprises that have a product or service that addresses one of our challenges.

Applications are made through our online form. Selection for interview will be by panel review of your online application followed by an initial Skype interview then a face to face pitch.

If you want to discuss your idea with us before applying email us at and we can arrange a time to talk.






Who Should Apply?

We are keen to work with teams of all types and at any stage of development as long as you share our drive to make genuine change. If you think your team has ideas that address our challenges we want to hear from you. You should apply if:


  • You want to use your skills and expertise to make a significant, positive impact on the way Cities work
  • You want to deliver real benefit to the communities of Exeter whilst you develop your commercial or social enterprise
  • Your team has an early idea or minimum viable product of some kind that you believe answers one of the challenges advertised on our website
  • You think you could benefit from engagement with City leadership and residents to develop a robust product/service offering that can work at scale
  • You are motivated, eager to learn and collaborative



Teams who successfully pass the pre-assessment stages will be invited to our offices in Exeter to pitch their concept ideas to an assessment panel. Unless otherwise stated in the Challenge description there are no hard and fast limits on the numbers of teams who will be asked to meet the assessment panel.

The assessment panel will be chosen specifically for each Challenge and is likely to comprise: investor, technical expert, entrepreneur, council, sponsoring customer (if applicable) plus representatives from the Exeter community.

It is up to the teams themselves to decide on how they will do this (pitch, film, etc.) but they will have a time limit of 10 minutes. The assessment panel will then get an opportunity to ask questions for 10 minutes. The teams will be selected for entry into the accelerator programme based on these 20 minutes and the original application.


The pitches will be reviewed against the 6 Ps:






Who is eligible to apply for entry into the Accelerator?

Entry to the accelerator is open to teams of 2-4 people of any age, although if you are under 18 you will need permission from a parent or guardian. The only real rules we have are that you can’t already be employed by Exeter City Futures or by Exeter City Council and you must be able to live and work in the UK for the duration of the programme.


I’m an individual with an idea, why do you say 2-4 people?

Starting a business and growing it to make impact is a lot of work. We believe it’s better to share that effort with another person. Look out for upcoming events to help you network with others and maybe form a team. Our maximum number of 4 is mostly about space, we want to work with focused teams and too many people makes that hard.


Do I have to be from an established company?

No. A team may be made up of a group of individuals or can be from an existing legal entity, such as a company, LLP or CIC. If not already done then the team should be seeking to establish a new legal entity to deliver their solution.


What if I’m from an entity larger than 4 people and we want to apply?

As long as you form a team of up to 4 people to take part in the programme this is fine.


I’m from a large corporate and we are interested to submit a solution, can we apply?

We know that lots of large organisations are considering the problems of urbanisation and you are welcome to participate in the programme and attend Demo Day. However, you won’t be eligible for financial support during the programme. (Oh and by “large” we mean companies with group turnover in excess of £500k pa)


Your application form is really short, why?

Our challenges are complex and the solutions could be really varied; we want to appeal to those with early stage ideas as well as developed products. We just want to know a bit about who you are, what problem you are solving and how you intend to make impact on our goals.


I’m worried about sharing my idea, who will see my application?

We will only share details with members of our assessment panel and anyone helping us to administer the challenges so that we can make proper assessment and arrange interviews etc. You can read our privacy policy regarding information submitted through the website here.


The challenges are all related to Exeter, how does this relate to me?

Exeter is unique, but it also struggles with the same problems of urbanisation as many other cities across the globe. We are able to offer exclusive access to the City of Exeter for you to develop sustainable, impactful solutions that work, not only in Exeter, but across the globe.


Is this a full-time accelerator programme?

We want you to focus on getting your business or social enterprise going so we don’t expect you to spend all your time with us. Although you are welcome to use our hub space in the City, it is not a requirement.  Delivering impact for the City and making sure the developed solutions solve our challenges is key, so teams will be expected to participate fully in the training and networking opportunities offered by Exeter City Futures as part of the accelerator programme. Without this level of engagement we won’t be able to take you through to Demo Day.


What support and training does the programme include?

They key offering of our programme is exclusive access to markets and buyers within the City of Exeter as well as access to data sets and assets that help you design and validate your product/advice. Our challenges are complex and varied and are likely to require solutions from a wide range of businesses and different stages of growth. Your team is unique and we will work with to determine a bespoke package of support depending on what you need, whether that’s marketing and branding, customer journey mapping, data analysis, or sorting out the legal and financial things.


Can you give any examples of startups you have already supported?

We are brand new in 2017 and working hard to optimise our programme to accelerate development of solutions to some of the most complex problems of Cities. This is an exciting opportunity to be part of our first cohort and help us shape-up for your benefit.

Will you help me find investment?

We recognise that different teams will have different views on how they want to be funded, whether that’s investment or crowdfunding or community shares. We’ll use our network to introduce you to relevant investors, users and customers and organise a ‘Demo Day’ event where you’ll pitch to investors, customers and press.


If I enter the accelerator will I still own my IP?

Yes. Any information or data that you bring to, or develop while participating in, the accelerator programme will be owned by you or your team. We do ask that you make available to the accelerator any information or data that you derive so that we can build a better picture of energy use and vehicular mobility in the Greater Exeter area to support future challenges and cohorts. Our mission is to make impact on Exeter, so we want you to use your IP to benefit of the City, but if for any reason you chose not to do this then we may ask to be granted rights to use your IP to achieve the aims of the challenge.


How will I know if my application has been successful?

If you are offered a place in the accelerator programme (with or without funding) then we will issue you with an offer letter. This will outline our terms and conditions in respect of your participation in the challenges and the specific outputs that we will agree with you through the assessment process. Although we are unable to provide in-depth feedback on unsuitable applications, we are keen to ensure that we help you understand why you weren’t selected and to help you develop your ideas. Any rejected applications will be accompanied by a brief rationale and assessor feedback. The decision of the Exeter City Futures leadership team in all matters relating to a team’s application and participation in the accelerator programme, including their eligibility and suitability, is final.


Is there any other legal stuff I need to know?

The decision of the Exeter City Futures leadership team in all matters relating to a team’s application and participation in the accelerator programme, including their eligibility and suitability, is final.

If you are offered a place on the accelerator (with or without funding) then our legal team will send out an offer letter. This will outline the specific outputs that we will agree with you through the assessment process.