OxLEP Business – the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP’s) business support arm and Growth Hub for the county – is inviting SMEs from across Oxfordshire to complete its ‘Business Support Tool’.

The Business Support Tool acts as a ‘front door’ into OxLEP Business for Oxfordshire SMEs, enabling the team of business experts to understand each business’ needs and provide them with a bespoke Business Support Action Plan, detailing local and national support that’s available including relevant events, grant schemes, expert advice and mentoring services.

In the 18 months following the Covid-19 outbreak, OxLEP engaged with 2,670 businesses across Oxfordshire – with almost all of these coming through the Business Support Tool – and now OxLEP Business are determined to reach out to an even wider pool of organisations, supporting even more companies to understand that they too could benefit from its business support.

Helen Brind – Growth Hub Manager at OxLEP – said: “Our business support tool is our ‘shop window’ into all of our business support opportunities and we would encourage interested companies to complete this short task to ensure that we can best direct them to the appropriate support for which they are eligible.

“Over the past few years, we have built-up a first-class reputation of supporting businesses at both critical times in their respective growth journeys – as well as during times of economic challenge – in particular during the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

“We want to ensure that SMEs from all sectors are aware of the considerable business support opportunities that are potentially available to them and would encourage business leaders and owners to reach out to us to find out more.

“We also appreciate that understanding the business support landscape and eligibility requirements for what’s on offer isn’t always easy – particularly whilst running a business – so our Business Support Tool acts as that first quick and easy step to engaging with us so that we can make you a bespoke offer of support.”

General business support on offer from OxLEP Business includes initiatives such as the ‘Foundations to Growth’ network, a six-week programme to support SMEs in understanding strong foundations for growth – whilst promoting collaboration with a new network of peers; Non-Executive Director (NED) for a day’ support, in which established businesses can apply for 8 hours of intense support and insight from a credible business expert; and a series of ‘Start Up and Grow workshops, in partnership with Oxfordshire’s Business and Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC).

OxLEP Business also offers a range of business support through its two European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programmes, eScalate – which provides support, guidance, workshops and grant funding to growing businesses and socially-minded enterprises – and Innovation Support for Business (ISfB) – offering support, workshops, grants and access to expertise and resources to the county’s innovative entrepreneurs and SMEs.

Several OxLEP Business-run grant funds are also either set to be launched or deadlines for fund applications are due to close over the next few weeks, with a total funding pot of over £1.2m collectively available to qualifying businesses, with grants covering areas including the visitor economy, innovation and support to take on an apprentice.

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