Dozens of businesses from across Oxfordshire logged on to a special Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) event earlier this week (27 May) to discover how they can continue to be supported during – and beyond – one of the toughest economic episodes ever witnessed globally.
Business leaders joined the OxLEP Business team as they launched its updated support offer for Oxfordshire companies, including a new peer networks programme, created just months after over 150 organisations from across the county took part in its first peer support programme.
OxLEP Business acts as the growth hub for Oxfordshire and – over the past year – the organisation has played an even more significant role in supporting businesses to remain resilient during a time of significant difficulty following the emergence of the Coronavirus.
WATCH AGAIN: Growth Hub 2021-22 Launch (27 May 2021)
Since lockdown, OxLEP Business 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.
During the 2021/2022 financial year, OxLEP Business will be offering a range of different business support programmes, including the following:
Peer networks programme:
A programme that brings together cohorts of business leaders to discuss challenges with their peers. Delivered through a series of group sessions, businesses gain and reflect valuable feedback from peers and identify practical solutions to overcome business challenges.
Enhanced Growth Hub:
An ongoing series of workshops delivered to help businesses at different stages of their lifetime – workshops and support include the OxLEP Business Start-up Club, Foundations for Growth and NED (Non-Executive Director) for a Day.
Business support tool:
Businesses complete a simple online form and receive a bespoke business support plan, aimed at coming up with practical solutions to challenges currently faced.
The ERDF-funded eScalate programme supports growing businesses that have scale-up potential. It also supports SMEs that are social enterprise, social entrepreneurs, enterprising charities and other purposeful businesses committed to enabling positive social and environmental impact.
Innovation Support for Business (ISfB):
The EDRF-funded ISfB programme is designed to drive and commercialise the innovative business ideas of Oxfordshire's SMEs and entrepreneurs.
Skills for Business (delivered by OxLEP Skills):
Skills for Business provides practical support to small to medium-sized businesses to identify and evaluate their skills and learning needs including upskilling current staff.
At the 2021/2022 launch event on Thursday, several dozen businesses from across the county heard from key OxLEP Business representatives, plus a number of organisations who have received support over the past 12 months, including confectionary company Lick Me I’m Delicious.
Helen Brind, Growth Hub Manager at OxLEP Business, said: “As the growth hub for Oxfordshire, we are dedicated to helping our business community, whether they are in the early stages of setting-up, emerging, or indeed scaling-up operations.
“We have a track record of providing first-class support to many sectors and size of business and – at this critical time – our support can also really help organisations to stay ahead of ‘the competition’, as well as providing sound advice around potentially diversifying operations in-light of the challenges brought about by COVID-19 and the potential effects of Brexit.”
As a first step, businesses are being encouraged to complete the organisation’s business support tool – the online questionnaire takes only a few moments to complete and captures key information on a business, as well as the challenges and indeed opportunities open to a company.
Helen Brind added: “We have never had so much support available and – through our range of tailored programmes – we are in a position to ensure our business community are in a strong position to be supported and remain resilient during one of the toughest economic periods we have ever faced.
“With this in mind, we are asking Oxfordshire businesses to complete our business support tool so that we can signpost organisations to the support that’s right for them.”