In addition, insights from Oxfordshire’s business community – gathered off the back of this year’s COP26 – has underlined the importance of sustainability to the county’s business community, however Oxfordshire businesses continue to look for further guidance to meet desired changes.
Dozens of businesses from across Oxfordshire came together earlier today (7 December) and joined representatives from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) for its latest annual event.
During the conference – which was held online – OxLEP’s chief executive Nigel Tipple and chair Jeremy Long reflected on OxLEP’s impact during 2021, as well as the pivotal role the organisation will play moving into 2022 and beyond.
Over the past 18 months, OxLEP have engaged with over 2,600 Oxfordshire-based businesses, provided over 12,000 hours of business support, and launched and committed £2m-plus of funding via its Business Investment Fund.
In addition, the organisation has secured a staggering £1bn-worth of central government and European funds for the Oxfordshire economy across multiple projects.
Recent investments include the ‘Meanwhile in Oxfordshire’ scheme, aimed at reinvigorating the county’s city and town centres, plus a number of skills-focused projects, such as the £3m Green Construction Skills Centre at Abingdon and Witney College and the also £3m Activate Hospitality Suite at City of Oxford College.
OxLEP now oversees a £3.1bn growth programme for the county.
WATCH AGAIN: OxLEP Annual Event 2021 (7 December 2021)
As well as reflecting upon OxLEP’s significant work supporting the county’s business community since the Coronavirus outbreak, the event also looked into the steps Oxfordshire’s business community can take supporting a drive towards a zero-carbon future.
Prior to the annual event, a series of insights were collected by OxLEP – ahead of the COP26 fortnight – asking Oxfordshire-based businesses their thoughts regarding energy efficiency and sustainability, and their potential commitment to making this a business priority.
And the survey – which was responded to by several dozen businesses from across Oxfordshire – suggested that sustainability is a priority for the county’s businesses.
Whilst the general consensus were highly-indicative of a clear understanding of the importance of becoming ‘greener’ and the steps required to do so, an overriding majority of the businesses revealed cost-related challenges were holding them back from doing more.
Responses received also highlighted an increased understanding of the potential commercial opportunities available to businesses within the county through engaging with the low-carbon sector.
During the annual event, OxLEP’s Nigel Tipple, said: “It’s very easy to look at this through the lens that says: ‘I need to transform my business to net-zero – what’s that going to cost me?’. But for many businesses, it is the practical steps where support is most-needed.
“There is a challenge for all of us to look at climate change and see how we can all do ‘our bit’, but I think we are also seeing businesses identifying opportunities to move to new technologies too.
“How we support our businesses to transform to new energy systems and new practices will be key for us moving forward.”
During the annual event, OxLEP also reflected on some of its key activity over the past year including the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards, COP26 and the OxLEP Business Marketplace event which engaged businesses from across the county just last month.