Dozens of Oxfordshire business leaders gathered on Monday (30 October) as OxLEP held its 2023 annual event where it highlighted its significant impacts across the county, as well as emphasising its commitment to supporting businesses into the future.
The yearly conference – which was held at The DoubleTree Hilton, Oxford Belfry in Milton Common – saw close to 150 people from across the county’s business community attend the event.
As well as learning more about some of the many achievements of OxLEP over the past 12 months, delegates also got the opportunity to receive specialist support from the organisation with a number of business advisors on-hand to provide guidance across a number of key areas including; sales, marketing and apprenticeships.
During the past year, OxLEP has successfully supported Oxfordshire businesses in numerous ways, via projects that make a positive impact across several business ‘touch points.’
This includes hundreds of Oxfordshire businesses continuing to receive bespoke business support plans via OxLEP’s online business support tool. Indeed, since OxLEP Business’ Growth Hub began, it has delivered just under £29-million-pounds worth of business support, worked with almost 6,300 organisations and triaged a further just short of 2,600 businesses to the right support.
Further specialist support has been provided to the county’s business community through a number of additional schemes, including its Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme – itself, providing over £600,000-worth of support to tourism-focused companies in February this year via the programme’s visitor economy grant scheme, with details of a further round of grant recipients set to be announced soon.
This, as well as the longer-term support that was offered through OxLEP’s European Regional Development Fund-backed programmes, eScalate and Innovation Support for Business (ISfB).
Collectively – across the lifetime of both programmes – eScalate and ISfB generated close to 12,000 hours of business support to Oxfordshire organisations, before they closed in early-summer.
WATCH: A round-up of the OxLEP Business ERDF celebration event from June this year
Meanwhile, OxLEP continues to play a critical role in enhancing apprenticeship provision in the county thanks to its Social Contract programme.
The Social Contract has, to-date, secured over £1.35 million-worth of apprenticeship levy pledges from large Oxfordshire businesses, ensuring small businesses can in-turn access funding for their own apprenticeship provision.
This has so far included SMEs creating apprenticeship openings a variety of sectors, including in engineering, construction and health and social care – opportunities which would otherwise be lost to the county, with levy funding returning to the Treasury.
On top of this, OxLEP Skills’ CareersFest event in March saw over 3,000 young people come together at the Kassam Stadium to gain inspiration from 76 businesses.
WATCH: Find out more on the work of OxLEP Skills
More widely, OxLEP’s £107.5 million Local Growth Fund programme is set to see 9,700 jobs created for Oxfordshire by 2030 through its collective projects, whilst – in- turn – supporting 2,800 new learners and enabling a further £850 million of funding.
WATCH: 'Lighting the Spark' with OxLEP: The £107.5m Local Growth Fund investment for Oxfordshire
Over the last year, OxLEP have also looked to engage business leaders – and those looking to get into business – via a number of new methods too, including the launch of its first podcast series, OxTalks. The podcast has already engaged thousands of OxLEP social media followers with episodes focusing on topics such as apprenticeships, innovation and the changing face of the workplace.
And – over the past six years – OxLEP has now helped to secure 295 foreign direct investments for the county, leading to around 6,000 jobs being created or safeguarded in Oxfordshire.
Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “It was extremely pleasing to see so many people, both new and old to OxLEP, at our annual event where we were not only able to highlight our significant work and impacts, but also perhaps offer inspiration and guidance to those business leaders and wider stakeholders from across the county and beyond.
“Given the business landscape, it is imperative for organisations like OxLEP to inject positivity into our business community and ‘shout out loud’ about the support that is available to organisations of all shapes and sizes. We know Oxfordshire and Oxfordshire knows we are here for them – therefore, we look forward to working with even more organisations as we move into 2024.”