The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s business support arm (OxLEP Business) – which operates as the Growth Hub for Oxfordshire – has today (Tuesday 29 November) announced the launch of its new Business Impact Report, showcasing the stand-out achievements of the LEP in supporting the county’s businesses across the period from April 2021 to March 2022.
The report reflects on a difficult period for the county’s businesses, operating under a variety of unprecedented conditions – dealing with the effects of everything from the COVID-19 pandemic, to the impacts of the UK’s exit from the European Union, to the supply-chain and cost-rise difficulties that have arisen from the conflict in Ukraine.
Key findings from the report highlight that over 6,000 hours of business support – valued at over £3,500,000 – were provided to those businesses who engaged with OxLEP Business over the period and 388 jobs were safeguarded or created through engagement with the team.
A total of 1294 businesses were triaged by OxLEP Business over 2021/22 via a number of different routes – including 535 completing the OxLEP ‘Business Support Tool’ – OxLEP Business’ free 7-minute business diagnostic tool to help decipher the business support landscape and provide businesses with a bespoke Business Support Action Plan.
Support delivered by OxLEP Business over the past financial year included one-to-one support, a ‘Foundations to Growth’ Programme – supporting businesses ready for growth, the national ‘Peer Networks’ Programme and a further ‘Peer to Peer’ Programme creating networks for collaboration, and a series of grant funding available through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)-funded Innovation Support for Business (ISfB) and eScalate programmes – for businesses looking to innovate or scale up respectively.
The report also highlights the most prominent business needs of organisations within the county that engaged through the Business Support Tool – aggregated with all data since July 2020 – with growing their customer base coming out on top, immediately followed by improving communications and marketing and upskilling staff/expanding the workforce.
Since the start of the pandemic, OxLEP Business has introduced a number of new and tailored programmes and funds, created to provide much-needed backing to the Oxfordshire business community.
This year’s report follows-on from figures reported by OxLEP Business between April 2020 and August last year at the height of the pandemic. That period saw OxLEP Business engage with 2,670 businesses and provide over 12,000 hours of support.
With at least 99% of the 43,000 businesses registered in Oxfordshire classed as SMEs, the report also provides a catalogue of examples of how OxLEP Business has supported the county’s small and medium-sized organisations at every step along their business journey.
One of these SMEs is Trove, an online food delivery business announced as the winner of OxLEP’s ‘Pitch to the Panel’ event – whose founders Flic and Tor reached out to OxLEP Business for support and to apply for an eScalate grant.
Flic said: “We’ve always been impressed with OxLEP’s support and access to knowledge sharing. We’ve been able to speak to experts and listen in on workshops across a variety of areas that scale-up businesses need to understand, but where their skill-set may not lie.
“We can’t speak highly enough of OxLEP’s support over the past couple of years.”
Helen Brind – Growth Hub Manager at OxLEP – said: “Our Impact Report demonstrates OxLEP’s commitment to supporting businesses – over what has been a particularly challenging period and how we aim to be there for every small and medium sized business based or trading in Oxfordshire.
“I would encourage anyone to read this full report and explore the journeys of the businesses featured – particularly businesses who have yet to engage with us or are unsure as to the value of OxLEP Business’ support – and to take just 7 minutes to complete our Business Support Tool and receive your own bespoke Business Support Action Plan.
“Who knows – 12 months from now, you could be reflecting on how OxLEP Business has supported your own SME journey”.
OxLEP Business currently has grant funding available through the Social Contract’s Apprenticeship Grant Scheme – secured through the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund – to support businesses’ apprentices to start or complete their apprenticeships through support with a number of costs.
Find out more about available funding, 1:1 support and relevant events and workshops by completing the Business Support Tool.