At the end of last year, we launched the OxLEP Business Impact Report (2021/22), showcasing the stand-out achievements of the LEP in supporting the county’s businesses across the period and reflecting on a difficult time for our business community, 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.
At the start of a new year, we catch up with OxLEP Business' Helen Brind and Anthony Parsons to find out what we can learn from the report, including what business support was accessed over the time period and what this tells us about the Oxfordshire business community. We will also discuss the range of support on offer from OxLEP Business at the start of 2023 and what's to come from the Growth Hub in response to the needs of Oxfordshire's business community over the next few months.
WATCH NOW - 'OxLEP Business: What's in store for 2023?'
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.
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.