Pictured above: OxLEP Business' 2021 Marketplace event, that brought together dozens of eScalate and ISfB clients.
The scheduled closedown of two major business support programmes – led by OxLEP – has been announced, with the organisation adding that its ongoing efforts will continue to provide top-class support to the county’s business community.
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, have both been concluded by OxLEP Business, the business support arm of OxLEP.
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 across a variety of different sectors and, in-particular, during and following the Covid-19 pandemic.
A full evaluation of both eScalate and ISfB will be conducted following the programmes’ closedown, though support has included; access to grant schemes – worth around £2 million – mentoring for business leaders, one-to-one support, upskilling businesses to leverage their growth ambitions, supporting investment readiness and creating major collaboration opportunities.
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: “The scheduled closedown of eScalate and ISfB marks a period of time where 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 arguably, 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.”
OxLEP Business has a strong track record of supporting businesses from across Oxfordshire, representing a variety of sectors.
Between April 2021 and March last year, OxLEP Business provided over 6,000 hours of business support – valued at over £3,500,000 – with 388 jobs safeguarded.
A total of 1,500 businesses or individuals were supported during the same period, with just under 1,300 companies triaged to the right support.
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.