Key figures from across Oxfordshire’s business community last week (7 June) gathered to celebrate two major support programmes – led by OxLEP – which concluded earlier this spring, each of which have collectively made a significant impact on the county’s business landscape.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)-supported programmes of eScalate – which has primarily worked with scale-up companies and social enterprise-focused organisations – and the Innovation Support for Business (ISfB) programme, which has helped drive innovation-led activity into Oxfordshire businesses, both reached a scheduled closedown following their respective deliveries via OxLEP Business, the business support arm of OxLEP.
Last Wednesday evening, OxLEP Business brought together leading business figures from around the county for a special reception at Oxford’s Natural History Museum to celebrate just how the two programmes supported companies from a variety of sectors and of size.
The multi-million pound programmes were exclusively-funded by ERDF means and – in-line with all other UK ERDF programmes, post-Brexit – OxLEP Business have now concluded activity, prior to an end date of all UK ERDF projects.
Since their respective launches, the programmes have made a significant impact on the Oxfordshire business community, providing much needed support to companies in-particular, during and following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Impacts for the eScalate programme included:
- 58 grants awarded to Oxfordshire businesses, with a total value of just under £630,000
- 717 businesses signed-up to be supported by the programme
- 7,350 hours of support were given to these businesses
- 231 businesses have had 12 hours or more of support (this number is set to rise further)
- 1,648 hours of one-to-one support given to 439 businesses
- 28 peer groups created by the programme
- 118 workshops and webinars held across the programme
Meanwhile, impacts for the ISfB programme also included:
- 86 grants awarded to Oxfordshire businesses, with a total value of just over £1,338,000
- 683 businesses signed-up to be supported by the programme
- 4,340 hours of support were given to these businesses
- 135 businesses have had 12 hours or more of support
- 1,068 hours of one-to-one support given to 351 businesses
During this week’s special reception, many of the businesses to have accessed the support – delivered through the eScalate and ISfB programmes – shared their success stories, with a number of awards also handed out to stand-out companies.
A variety of organisations in Oxfordshire have supported with the delivery of both programmes. This includes eScalate’s main sub-contractor, Oxfordshire Social Entrepreneurship Partnership (OSEP), who have worked with OxLEP Business for the entirety of its three-year programme, delivering the social enterprise support element of eScalate.
ISfB activity has been delivered across two phases, with multiple delivery partners and sub-contractors including; ALP Synergy, Rytork, The Hill, the University of Oxford, Cherwell District Council, Oxford City Council and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Helen Brind – Growth Hub Manager for OxLEP – said: “We were delighted to bring so many of our wonderful clients together for our special, celebratory reception – it really helped to bring to life and contextualise the level of support and the wide impact our ERDF programmes made.
“We can genuinely say that without OxLEP and our partner organisations’ interventions, many businesses in Oxfordshire would not be in the position they are in now and, many would not be able to continue trading.
“Our impact has been substantial and fundamental in ensuring that businesses in the county – whether starting, growing or even seeking new ways of approaching their activity – were able to do so successfully and be extremely well-positioned to cope with the many challenges that the pandemic unfortunately created.
“On behalf of OxLEP Business, I would like to thank our many delivery partners, sub-contractors and individuals who have helped to make our ERDF activity a real success and we look forward to sharing the impacts that we have made as part of our ongoing evaluation of the programmes.
“In the meantime, I would encourage the county’s business community to continue to engage with us. We have a significant business support offer in-place that is driven by what companies from across Oxfordshire say that they need.
“We are very much market-driven and well-positioned to collaborate with companies of all sizes, whatever stage of their business journey they are on.”
Oxfordshire-based organisations seeking support are encouraged to complete OxLEP Business’ online business support tool.
It takes just a few minutes to complete and will lead to the creation of a bespoke action plan that companies can take forward, as well as receiving notifications on OxLEP Business’ ongoing programme of activity.