Welcome – Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive
On behalf of OxLEP, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, I would like to welcome you to our 2020/2021 annual report: ‘Championing an economy ready to deliver in a post COVID-19 world’.
This time last year – following-on from the COVID-19 outbreak – I described the previous 12 months as a ‘year like no other’ and indeed ‘a once in a generation moment’. As you will read in this report, our impact – helping businesses to continue to operate despite challenges and obstacles many would not have foreseen barely a year ago – has been significant, as we have reached thousands of business leaders right across the county during their time of need.
Our role throughout 2019/2020 was very much about supporting businesses to address immediate concerns and worries through a number of measures and critical interventions, helping them to remain resilient throughout the most-difficult of moments. During 2020/2021, our role has evolved and we've recognised the need to also support businesses to find new opportunities, discover new markets, learn from their business peers and even diversify their business' unique selling point to align with a new, post COVID economy.
We shouldn’t underplay our role. It’s fair to say that without OxLEP, many more businesses in Oxfordshire would have suffered the horrific consequences of the pandemic and its impact on our economy.
We do of course recognise that Coronavirus continues to create an unprecedented situation that has, and will continue to, cause concern and disruption to businesses of all sizes. We are determined to listen to you and shape our support accordingly.
One thing that – if it was ever in-doubt before the pandemic, but certainly isn’t now – is the global strengths and reputation of Oxfordshire's innovation ecosystem. Those closest to it know its capabilities, its ability to deliver and the international draw it creates, bringing together the world’s best innovators, collaborators and emerging technologies that can address the most-pressing of issues.
As this amazing ecosystem mobilised and created the now single-most used vaccine in the world, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, we have been able to demonstrate better than ever before how integral our ecosystem's capabilities are and how it can move at a real pace – a major asset in a post-pandemic economy.
It’s this innovation ecosystem – which continues to attract the world’s best talent and most-entrepreneurial minds – that can undoubtedly play a leading role globally in finding effective ways to move towards a more sustainable and cleaner future. Something we have championed throughout this past year.
And as we move closer to the biggest climate conference in the world, COP26, it’s also important for us to play a lead role and inspire our own business community to not only understand the climate emergency challenge, but also the practical steps that they can take in embracing a zero-carbon future.
We remain determined to play a leading role in ensuring that the county’s businesses are able to run as efficiently as possible and remain productive both during the pandemic and beyond.
I wish you all success and prosperity as we continue to emerge from this difficult time.