About us

Devon and Cornwall Business Council (DCBC) was formed in 2001 when a relatively small but influential number of private sector businesses felt they needed a ‘single voice’ to represent their views both regionally and nationally where historically, these had fallen beneath the political radar. DCBC was not intended to replace any of the other business representative organisations such as the local Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors, who all have a specific role to support their members. DCBC was formed to complement these services, providing a single forum for discussion, debate and for developing partnerships with the other key representative organisations within the two counties, many of whom are on DCBC’s Advisory Board.

Our main objectives are:

  • To provide a well-informed, coherent and authoritative voice to represent the business interests of Devon & Cornwall
  • To ensure that the best decisions are made to deliver sustainable economic prosperity for Devon & Cornwall
  • To work in support of our members and partners to help to achieve collective goals & aspirations

In order to achieve these objectives:

  • DCBC lobbies on key issues of importance to our business community.
  • DCBC works at a strategic level across the peninsula, brokering high-level connections between the private, public, and third sectors.
  • DCBC works with organisations of any size and any sector, and are proud to include Social Enterprises and education / training providers amongst our member network.

On Friday 9th March, DCBC announced it will be rebranded as the South West Business Council (SWBC). 

You can read the press release here > 

Q&A

1.     Background

a.    What is changing?

Devon and Cornwall Business Council is changing its name to the South West Business Council. Our intention is to both recognise and formalise the bigger geography that DCBC already operates within, building on the momentum generated by the Great South West initiative.

b.    Why are you making this change?

The South West has many sectoral strengths and connections to the rest of the UK, but we have to raise our profile. We are working in a period of

business uncertainty and this is an opportunity to shape our own destiny. There is an acute need for an organisation to push forward the Great South West agenda, representing the views and priorities of business, aligned with business organisations and the public sector across the Greater South West.

c.     Why now?

The Great South West Initiative was launched 18 months ago – since then it has gained momentum and support in the private and public sectors. It is now time for the South West Business Council to take it forward. It is vital that we have a coherent voice to speak to policymakers, particularly given the constraints posed by our infrastructure and threat to investment from the withdrawal of EU funding. 

d.    Do you need to make this change?

Yes. We need to elevate the profile of the South West - it’s important that we establish a coherent, consistent voice to national and international markets. We need to work closely with other regions and establish effective partnerships connecting South West business with new opportunities.

e.    What do you intend to do?

Firstly, we are launching our new name and website.

We are keen to give more emphasis and impetus to our work with key sectors. Historically, DCBC has had three main themes of skills, infrastructure and innovation and these will remain our priorities. 

We are setting up three special interest groups to provide focus and action:

  1. Enterprise and Innovation, chaired by Adam Cook
  2. Education and Skills, chaired by Katherine Bourke
  3. Infrastructure, chaired by Philip Byers

At the same time, we are going to set up strategic alliances, both nationally and internationally to strengthen our ties to national and international markets. 

f.     Does this mean you will no longer support Devon and Cornwall?

Not at all. Devon and Cornwall is the birthplace of DCBC and developing business opportunities for our area will remain our priority, it is one of the main reasons for the expansion. To speak to policymakers and international partners we need one voice. There is greater influence to be had by being part of a strategic partnership as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine have shown.

The Special Interest Groups will be focused on supporting our businesses and stimulating trading opportunities for our region locally, nationally and internationally.

g.    How is the team going to work across a much larger geography?

DCBC has incredible strength, breadth and reach supported by our extensive Advisory Board, the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and of course our membership network. Our role is one of facilitator and broker. We shall be making good use of technology to connect efficiently across borders. The team has already been strengthened and as we continue to grow we shall consider additional recruitment.

2.     New name & branding

a.    Why have you chosen this new name?

We’ve chosen the name ‘South West Business Council’ because it is a natural transition from ‘Devon and Cornwall Business Council’. We’ve adopted the mantle set by the Great South West initiative and want to raise the profile of the South West even further.

b.    Will DCBC still exist?

Devon & Cornwall Business Council Ltd will remain as the legal entity, but all external activity will be re-cast under the South West Business Council (SWBC) umbrella. The statutory board will continue to operate under DCBC and we will continue to be registered under this name at Companies House. 

c.     What will the new branding look like?

We are currently working with local companies on developing our new branding and website and this will be launched shortly. We are proud and excited to refresh the brand, building on the last 17 years of DCBC.

d.    You talk about supporting key sectors and not being restricted by geography, but you have chosen a name that is also defined by a region (South West) – can you explain why?

We intend to represent the sectors that operate within the South West geographical area. Regions are how opportunities are defined by investors and policymakers, so we need to work together to make the best of these, supporting the Greater South West framework.

3.     Vision / ambition

a.    What is the ambition for the South West?

Politically, we want to raise the profile of the South West, nationally and internationally. We also want to develop new opportunities, partnerships and employment prospects.

This is all intended to help futureproof the region in the context of Brexit and other changes.

b.    Aren’t you just doing the same thing as the Chambers/LEPs/other business groups?

No. The South West Business Council is at the forefront of pushing the Great South West agenda – we’ve chosen to lead the way. LEPs and Chambers are defined by geographical borders – both are crucial partners in our mission to raise the profile of the South West and forge greater partnerships, but each group operates very differently. We are the strategic voice of business within these partnerships. 

c.     Is this going to make you more money?

If our mission to raise the profile of the South West is successful and supports the private sector, then by definition it will support the sustainability of the South West Business Council.

d.    How does this impact upon the regional agenda (Northern Powerhouse / Midlands Engine)

Both the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine have had lots of traction and support. The South West needs to engage at that level and the Great South West needs to be spoken of in the same breath as these regions. At the same time we have huge synergies with these regions and can form strategic alliances that benefit both areas.

e.    You talk about looking outwards - nationally & internationally – what about working within the region – how will this work?

The SWBC will be driven by practical actions – for example, the new special interest groups will be driven by the advisory board (and our membership). This will help shape and influence how we work and what we do. Co- operation in the South West remains our top priority – engaging with each other means better cooperation for us all. 

4.     Looking after and opportunities for existing members

a.    Are there going to be any changes for members, or an increase in fees

No, there's no intention in the short-term to increase membership fees as a result of this change. We envisage developing a wider range of optional paid for services and added benefits for members.

b.    Won't this just increase the competition for businesses in the South West?

No. By expanding the market we will be creating new opportunities through a variety of partnerships soon to be announced.

Listen to a full radio interview from CEO Robin Daniels here >

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