Closed Projects

European Regional Development Fund programmes: Elevate, eScalate and Innovation Support for Business (ISfB)

October 2016 – February 2020

The programme supported:
• Pre-start businesses and entrepreneurs to act on their business idea and set up their new business
• Support existing SMEs to grow, creating new products and services.

The support available included:
• 1:1 support
• Webinars and workshops
• Grants

January 2019 to April 2023.

It supported:
• Enterprises for social good – these exist in the space between traditional charities and mainstream businesses. These purposeful businesses are committed to enabling positive social and environmental impact.
• SME scale up businesses.
• During Covid-19 the programme was expanded to offer support to all eligible start-up and growth SME’s.

The support available included:
• 1:1 support, including Power Hours
• Peer support through facilitated Network and Support groups
• Webinars and workshops
• Investor Pitching
• Grants

Innovation Support for Business (ISfB)

April 2017 to April 2023.

It supported:
• Businesses of all sectors to bring new and innovative products, processes and services to the firm and market.
• Increased knowledge exchange, collaboration and research between businesses and research institutions.
• Creation and access for businesses to new and improved innovation facilities.

The support available included:
• 1:1 support
• Webinars and workshops
• Go-Create grants
• Innovation facilities (AgileLab & Prototyping Lab at Begbroke, Eco Business Centre in Bicester)

Impact video: OxLEP Business ISfB, eScalate, EDRF Impact (youtube.com)

At our 2023 Celebration Event, OxLEP Business brought together key figures from across Oxfordshire’s business community to celebrate the eScalate and ISfB programmes.

OxLEP Business 2023 Celebration Event (youtube.com)

Business Resilience Grants (Covid-19)

OxLEP created a business resilience fund of £795,000 to help support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
The fund was designed to complement the range of support available from HM Government and provide eligible businesses with unmatched grants ranging from £1,000 - £10,000.

Revenue grants of up to £5,000, or capital grants of up to £10,000 could be used to support Sole Traders and SMEs with activities which aimed to:
• Build business resilience.
• Strengthen growth.
• Safeguard jobs.

The funding of £795,000 was made up of £290,000 Revenue and £505,000 Capital.

Oxfordshire Kick Start Grants (Covid-19):

The Kickstart Grants, from September 2020 to March 2021, offered 100% revenue grants of £1,000 to £3,000 to support access to specialist advice or services to enable SMEs to adapt or pivot their business in response to the impacts of the pandemic.

This additional funding of £306,000 was made available via the ERDF eScalate programme and was split into two streams:

• Funding specifically aimed at tourism and hospitality-related businesses that depend on income from the visitor economy.
• Funding available to any small or medium-sized business impacted by the pandemic.

Business Investment Fund

The Oxfordshire Business Investment Fund, launched in March 2021 and completed in December 2021, was funded by the Government’s Gett¬ing Building Fund.

The grant scheme was developed to catalyse the county’s business community to move into an effective renewal phase following the COVID-19 outbreak. Oxfordshire businesses were invited to put forward expressions of interest for 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 Business Investment Fund had a grant pot of £2,227,865, which was added to, through match funding from the successful businesses, giving a total investment of £4,377,276.

In 2022, OxLEP managed to secure additional funding to launch a second Business Investment Fund (BIF) opportunity. Grants were available to existing businesses that could demonstrate an economic benefit within Oxfordshire.
Grants ranged from £5,000 - £24,999, for capital projects that could deliver tangible outcomes that align to driving economic recovery, growth, and job creation.
The Business Investment Fund grant pot was £220,000.

Cherwell Business Adaptation Fund:

OxLEP Business administered the Cherwell District Council’s Cherwell Business Adaptation Fund (CBAF) of £450,000 in 2022.

These grants were available to businesses who had been trading within the Cherwell area for at least one full financial year. CBAF grants ranged between £5,000 and £20,000 for capital and/or revenue projects that delivered tangible outcomes aligned to accelerate investment to strengthen business performance, provide supply chain resilience, transition to net zero, drive technology and innovation adoption and increase sales and market share.

Grant awards had to deliver against at least one of the CBAF priorities:
• increased sustainable job creation.
• increased R&D and product development
• diversification into new business markets
• increased exporting capacity (manufacturing, production, and services)
• de-risked/strengthened supply chains with a focus on UK supply chains.
• transition to trade globally including new EU requirements.
• successful transition of business operations to net zero carbon emissions and lower carbon footprint.

The Visitor Economy Grant Scheme:

The Visitor Economy, comprising retail, tourism, leisure, arts, culture, and heritage, is a vital component of Oxfordshire’s economy and supports good health and wellbeing for local communities as well as visitors. Pre-Covid, Oxfordshire had a thriving visitor economy which attracted 30 million visitors a year generating £2.5 billion for the local economy and supporting 40,000 jobs.

The Visitor Economy Renaissance Programme was designed to help assist the recovery of this important economic sector following the impacts of Covid. A grant pot of £600,000 with grants ranging from £5,000 through to £24,999 per business was available in 2022/23.

Celebration Event 2023

At our 2023 Celebration Event, OxLEP Business brought together key figures from across Oxfordshire’s business community to celebrate two major support programmes, which concluded earlier in the spring, each of which have collectively made a significant impact on the county’s business landscape.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)-supported programmes of eScalate – which has primarily worked with scale-up companies and social enterprise-focused organisations – and the Innovation Support for Business (ISfB) programme, which has helped drive innovation-led activity into Oxfordshire businesses, both reached a scheduled closedown following their respective deliveries via OxLEP Business, the business support arm of OxLEP.

2023 Celebration Event video thumbnail

Need some help getting started?

Meet the Business Support Tool

It’s the quickest way for our team to deliver targeted support, through a personalised business support plan and signposting to what we think will work best for you and your business.