The Oxfordshire Business Investment Fund – which launched last March – was developed to boost the county’s business community to move into an effective renewal phase following the Coronavirus outbreak.
OxLEP have announced that a total of £2million-worth of grants have now been issued in full to 38 businesses through the Business Investment Fund.
In March last year, established Oxfordshire businesses were invited to put forward expressions of interest towards the fund’s co-investment grants of £25,000 to £100,000 for capital projects, with the ability to deliver tangible outcomes aligned to driving economic recovery, growth and job creation.
The capital grant fund was put into place to support businesses to accelerate investment into their respective operations, as well as strengthening business performance, driving technology and innovation adoption within companies and helping to increase a company’s sales and market share.
The Business Investment Fund scheme has been funded by the Government’s Getting Building Fund, set up with aims to help kick-start the UK economy following the emergence of Covid-19, with investment being targeted in areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.
Over 100 expressions of interest were received by OxLEP Business following a highly-competitive two-phase application process which – following intensive assessment and scoring – saw the funds awarded to a total of 38 Oxfordshire-based businesses, on a one-to-one match-funding basis.
Successful recipients of the fund span a broad range of sectors, including; creative industries, food and drink, life sciences, the visitor economy, green tech and high-value manufacturing, with a number of success stories and outcomes already recorded.
Since launching the fund, OxLEP Business have worked closely with the successful grant recipients, to help them to navigate procurement requirements and claim processes.
A number of successful applicants have also implemented their Business Investment Fund projects through OxLEP Business’ Peer Networks programme, part of a national peer-to-peer networking programme for SME business leaders looking to grow and develop their organisation for future success.
The Business Investment Fund scheme has been funded by the Government’s Getting Building Fund, set up with aims to help kick-start the UK economy following the emergence of COVID-19, with investment being targeted in areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.
Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP – with its partners – has secured over £1billion-worth of funding for Oxfordshire, which has seen more than 65,000 new jobs created in the county to-date.
In total, OxLEP currently oversees a £2.2bn growth programme for the county.
Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “The number of businesses to have benefitted from the Business Investment Fund is significant news for the Oxfordshire economy and aligns directly with the Getting Building Fund’s main aim of accelerating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire, we remain determined to play a key role in ensuring that our business community is able to run as efficiently as possible and remain productive both during the pandemic and beyond. This programme has further supported that ambition.”
Andrew May – Director of E S Precision – one of the recipients of the funding, said: “We’ve had to hold-off on plans for a new type of precision laser cutting service owing to economic uncertainty and the cashflow impact of lockdown.
“The Fund has facilitated the capital investment in a new laser and computer measurement system to launch our erosion cutting service. Promising sectors include energy (fuel cells, solar), aerospace, motorsport and medical (life science, instrumentation, diagnostics).
“We’re grateful to OxLEP for their work in identifying our business proposal as one worthy of grant aid."
Upon receipt of their allocated funding, E S Precision have gone on to offer an efficient service in the cutting of parts for hydrogen fuel cells – without the need to manufacture conventional cutting tools – supporting ambitions for the UK’s ‘Hydrogen Economy’.
Working alongside private and public sector partners from across the county, OxLEP secured a total of £8.4million-worth of investment for Oxfordshire through the Getting Building Fund, giving businesses and communities an all-important boost following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Away from the Business Investment Fund, Oxfordshire’s other programmes supported by the Getting Building Fund have also helped to leverage a number of emerging clean energy projects in the county, creating hundreds of new jobs in the process.
Getting Building Fund projects also recognise the possible ‘changing face’ of work patterns in Oxfordshire, supporting businesses to be more agile in-light of COVID-19.
Collectively, Oxfordshire-focused schemes supported by the Getting Building Fund are expected to see a number of impressive outcomes, such as the creation of 472 new jobs – including new Kickstart Scheme opportunities, apprenticeships and traineeships – as well as an additional 43 construction-focused roles, with the fund also on track to safeguard a further 324 jobs.