Pictured above: Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, the new base for OxLEP.
The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) have this week announced its move to one of the world’s most prominent science and technology locations following a year-long transformation to a ‘digital business model’.
The business-led organisation who – since, its inception in 2011 – have secured around £660m-worth of government funding for Oxfordshire, have established an operational support hub at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, home to the largest space cluster in Western Europe plus world-leading science-focused companies such as; the Faraday Institution, Diamond Light Source, the European Space Agency, Oxford Space Systems, Open Cosmos and the soon-to-be completed Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre.
Since the pandemic outbreak in March last year, OxLEP has moved its operations onto a digital business platform supporting a move to home-based working.
The organisation will continue to build its digital presence to support Oxfordshire’s business community, but will benefit from its new operational hub base within the campus’ HQ building, situated on Thomson Avenue.
Over the past year, OxLEP has played a significant role supporting the county’s businesses through the major challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and potential effects of Brexit.
Since lockdown, the organisation has supported over 2,000 Oxfordshire-based businesses with COVID-specific issues and provided almost £2million-worth of advice and mentoring, whilst administering in excess of £5million-worth of direct funding into businesses across multiple sectors.
Over 800 businesses in the county were also supported with Brexit-specific advice following the UK’s departure from the European Union at the start of 2021.
Away from business support, OxLEP have also championed the county’s key sectors at this critical economic time – this includes leading the creation of the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy, which was launched in September 2019, setting the ambition for the county to become a top-three global innovation ecosystem by 2040.
Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP, said: “We are delighted to be setting-up a new operational hub at Harwell Campus, one of the world’s most-impressive and impactful science and technology-focused locations.
“Over the years, we have worked very closely with both the campus and the globally-significant businesses based on-site, not only highlighting their impact across a variety of sectors, but also helping to secure funding for supporting infrastructure and connectivity projects in-and-around the campus.
“With this in mind, it’s fantastic to be even more closely-aligned with the campus and indeed, within close proximity of other world-class science and innovation assets like Milton Park and Culham Science Centre.”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, around 3,400 online users from across Oxfordshire and beyond have taken part in over 120 OxLEP-led webinars – an element of support which its chief executive believes will continue to be of benefit to the county’s business community.
Nigel Tipple added: “It is important for our business community to recognise that we will primarily be operating as a ‘digital-based’ business. Because of the Coronavirus – like thousands of businesses across the UK – we have been operating a remote business model throughout the last year and discovered that in many ways, we were able to support Oxfordshire businesses like never before.
“We believe we are extremely well-positioned to continue to offer first-class support to our business community, as well as championing opportunities available to young people, entrepreneurs and indeed businesses of all sizes based in Oxfordshire, or those looking to set-up home in the county.
“We are excited to continue to represent and champion this great economy that can play a lead role in the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Harwell Campus has welcomed OxLEP’s move to its HQ building.
Stuart Grant, Chief Executive of Harwell Campus, added: “Harwell is home to a plethora of organisations delivering pioneering science and innovation. We’re delighted that OxLEP has chosen to relocate to the Campus to sit alongside the businesses that play a key role in ensuring Oxfordshire remains a vibrant, sustainable, inclusive and world-leading economy.”