Yesterday (2 June) saw the launch of BIO2020 Live, the long-running, business-facing event for the county’s businesses.
Curated by B4, the event is now in its seventh year and brings together the county’s business owners, leaders, entrepreneurs and executives. In-light of COVID-19, B4 took the decision to move the event to an online platform, providing around 55 discussions over a three-day programme.
Alongside B4 chief executive Richard Rosser and Collaborent's Grant Hayward, we were given the opportunity to speak at the BIO2020 Live launch, setting the scene for the event.
During the launch, our chief executive Nigel Tipple and communications manager Rob Panting discussed that, in-light of COVID-19 – now more than ever – events like BIO2020 Live are hugely important for our small business community, bringing people together to discuss common issues.
They also emphasised that – given the vast majority of businesses in the UK are SMEs (according to the FSB, in 2019, 99.3% of businesses are classified as SMEs) it’s important for us to all support each other to hopefully begin the economic recovery from COVID-19.
It was also an opportunity to reflect on COVID-19 and emphasise how Oxfordshire’s business community has not only led the way in the national response, but also really highlight how our SME community have stepped-up massively too. They also discussed how the key sectors that have led the way in the COVID-19 response are also the same sectors providing opportunities for young people, both now and in the future.
Later in the day, OxLEP Skills’ Kate Pullen discussed our Skills for Business programme – a programme that provides practical support to small and medium-sized businesses, set-up identify and evaluate their skills and learning needs including upskilling current staff.
As we move into day two of the event, we have a number of sessions taking place, including:
- Supporting Oxfordshire’s businesses (9.30am) – hosted by Richard Byard and Helen Brind, this session looks at the different types of support we can offer Oxfordshire’s business community at this critical time
- Apprenticeships panel (3pm) – our Skills Hub Manager, Sally Andreou introduces a panel made up of apprentices, apprenticeship providers and key businesses highlighting why apprenticeships play a key role in supporting, in particular, our world-leading sectors. Apprenticeship employers will discuss the opportunities they provide and current apprentices will share their experiences too
- Economic outlook forum, hosted by Howard Bentham (5.30pm) – our chair Jeremy Long is joined by a host of business leaders to reflect on the county’s economic response to the pandemic and what the future may hold