A total of 34 businesses from across Oxfordshire are set to benefit from a £2.15m investment fund created by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) earlier this year to support the economic recovery from COVID-19.
The Oxfordshire Business Investment Fund – which launched in March – was developed to boost the county’s business community to move into a renewal phase following the Coronavirus outbreak.
The capital grant fund will support businesses to accelerate investment into their respective operations, as well as strengthening business performance, driving technology and innovation adoption, and helping to increase sales and market share.
Established Oxfordshire businesses were invited to put forward expressions of interest towards 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.
Over 100 expressions of interest were received by OxLEP Business following a highly competitive two-phase application process which – following intensive assessment and scoring – saw OxLEP Business award a total of £2.15m-worth of grants to 34 Oxfordshire-based businesses.
The successful recipients span a broad range of sectors including, creative industries, food and drink, life sciences, the visitor economy, green tech and high-value manufacturing.
Over the coming months, OxLEP will be working closely with those businesses that have benefited from the fund to help them navigate its procurement requirements and claim processes.
They will also be supporting some of the successful applicants to implement their Business Investment Fund projects through OxLEP Business’ Peer Networks programme – part of a national peer-to-peer networking programme for SME business leaders looking to grow and develop their organisation for future success.
The Business Investment Fund scheme is funded by the Government’s Getting Building Fund, which aims to help kick-start the UK economy following the emergence of the Coronavirus, with investment being targeted in areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.
Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP – with its partners – has secured over £660m worth of government funding for Oxfordshire, which has seen more than 48,000 new jobs created in the county to date.
In total, OxLEP currently oversees a £2.2bn growth programme for the county.
Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP, said: “The number of businesses who will benefit from the Business Investment Fund is excellent news for the Oxfordshire economy and aligns directly with the Getting Building Fund’s main aim of accelerating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire, we will continue to play a vitally important role for the county moving forward, securing investment that enables new opportunities that will benefit the county’s businesses for many years to come.
“We remain determined to play a key role in ensuring that our business community is able to run as efficiently as possible and remain productive both during the pandemic and beyond – this project further supports this ambition.”
Andrew May – Director of E S Precision – one of the recipients of the funding, said: “We’ve had to hold off on plans for a new type of precision laser cutting service owing to economic uncertainty and the cashflow impact of lockdown.
“The Government’s Getting Building Fund has facilitated the capital investment in a new laser and computer measurement system to launch our erosion cutting service. Promising sectors include energy (fuel cells, solar), aerospace, motorsport and medical (life science, instrumentation, diagnostics).
“We’re grateful to OxLEP for their work in identifying our business proposal as one worthy of grant aid”.
Working alongside private and public sector partners from across the county, OxLEP secured a total of £8.4million-worth of investment for Oxfordshire, giving businesses and communities an all-important boost following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Away from the Business Investment Fund, Oxfordshire’s other Getting Building Fund-supported programmes will also support several emerging clean energy projects in the county, creating hundreds of new jobs in the process.
Getting Building Fund projects also recognise the possible ‘changing face’ of work patterns in Oxfordshire, supporting businesses to be more agile in light of COVID-19.
Collectively, Oxfordshire-focused schemes supported by the Getting Building Fund are set to lead to the creation of 472 new jobs. This includes kick-start opportunities, apprenticeships, and traineeships – as well as an additional 43 construction-focused roles – with the fund also ready to safeguard a further 324 jobs.