A new report – released by OxLEP – has highlighted the significant impacts delivered by the organisation, supporting the county’s business community through a period of major financial uncertainty.
OxLEP Business and OxLEP Skills’ ‘SIGHT’ (Start, Innovate, Grow and Help to Thrive) Impact Report – which reviews OxLEP’s delivery from October 2016 to March 2023 – has brought to the fore the significant support and influence delivered across businesses of all sizes and many sectors in Oxfordshire.
It has revealed that collectively, the OxLEP Business and OxLEP Skills teams – during the above timeframe – have engaged with over 6,200 businesses, providing them with around 18,000 hours of support and advice, worth over £28.75 million.
Perhaps most impressively – during a time that is associated with a period of financial turbulence via Brexit, Covid-19 and increased levels of inflation – nearly 15% of businesses supported by OxLEP reported that they had grown by 10%, or more, per year.
OxLEP’s support has also made big strides in working with business leaders from across a range of communities and backgrounds.
The report has revealed that 23% of business leaders supported by OxLEP represent BAME communities, with 45% of business leaders engaged by OxLEP being women and a further 13% stating that they have a disability.
In addition, the report also delves deep into the impacts of OxLEP’s recently-closed European-funded programmes, Innovation Support for Business (ISfB) and eScalate.
During the lifetime of the programme, Innovation Support for Business worked with 780 businesses, totalling 4,500 hours of support, backed by £1.3 million-worth of grants that leveraged £1.7 million of private investment and almost 100 new jobs.
eScalate delivered 7,500 hours of support with 51% of businesses engaged led by women, or have boards with female majorities – way above the national average of 29%.
WATCH: OxLEP Business says ‘goodbye’ to European-funded business support programmes at celebration event
Meanwhile, the report also highlights the key work delivered in supporting the county’s labour market – this includes the OxLEP Skills team supporting the delivery of 15 community employment plans, which aims to enable better access to opportunities for local people, with OxLEP Skills also working with 36 businesses to support them to recruit apprentices, whilst also building partnerships with over 500 businesses to create effective engagement with communities and schools.
Helen Brind – Growth Hub Manager at OxLEP – said: “Our latest impact report brings to life the true breadth and impact our work has had across Oxfordshire’s business community. It also shares a range of business case studies and links to dozens of our incredible client base.
“We have provided a sustained programme of support for thousands of businesses in the county – particularly at a time of economic difficulty – and it’s something we can be extremely proud of.
“We can genuinely say that without our work, many businesses in Oxfordshire would have found the major recent challenges, brought by issues such as Covid-19, significantly harder to deal with effectively.”
The report also confirmed that OxLEP’s support is wide-ranging, with programmes supporting organisations across various stages in their respective business timelines.
Around a quarter of businesses supported were classed as ‘established’, with a further quarter classified as being ‘start-ups’. Meanwhile – around 15% were pre-start organisations, with just under 10% supported classed as ‘growing’ (showing 10% annual growth) with 5% seen as scale-up businesses (20% growth per year).
Businesses continue to be encouraged to complete OxLEP Business’ support tool, which takes just a few minutes to complete, and leads to a bespoke support plan.
Helen Brind added: “We are here to help your organisation. Whether you are starting out, growing, or about to take on a new business challenge, now is exactly the right time to speak with OxLEP and discover what support is on offer.”