31 March 2017: Thames Valley Berkshire LEP is continuing to support growth-potential SMEs with the award of a new contract to operate a Business Growth Hub service from 2017 to 2021; the contract has been awarded to Oxford Innovation, through an ERDF Call issued in April 2016 by DCLG. The Call – an open procurement process – aims to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises, and marks the next phase of the LEP’s investment in business support and innovation.
The Business Growth Hub will continue to be the first stop shop for business support in Berkshire and will enhance and accelerate business performance, help more businesses to take advantage of national and local support programmes, increase jobs, raise levels of exporting, and help deliver the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan for the sub-region.
The previous operator, VitalSix, has established an excellent Growth Hub, providing business support and unlocking growth potential for start-ups and established businesses from a diverse range of sectors. With over 20 years experience in coaching businesses, Oxford Innovation will move the Growth Hub forward, making Berkshire a better place to do business by providing a two-tier business support service:
1. Light touch advice resources and events programme via the Growth Hub website to the Berkshire business community with physical Growth Hub Touch Points throughout the region, providing visibility and accessibility
2. Provision of intensive 1:1 support and ongoing account management delivered by dedicated Business Champions to entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs who demonstrate high growth potential and operate in Berkshire’s priority sectors
Since its inception in January 2014, the Hub has helped to create 177 new jobs and safeguarded a further 72, with many more indirect jobs created, directly engaged with 885 businesses, assisted 356 businesses, and provided skill-based training to 141 business leaders. £488,000 has been invested in grants (matched with £949,000 of private investment), with over £3m debt and equity investment leveraged into client companies.
Peter Read, Chairman of the LEP, comments, “Access to high quality, relevant business support and advice is a key barrier to SME growth. With over 43,000 businesses and one of the highest proportions of fast growing firms in England, it is imperative that Berkshire’s businesses are able to tap into their full potential and receive support at every stage of their development. We are thrilled with the impact that the Business Growth Hub has made so far, and look forward to this next phase with Oxford Innovation, shaping business growth amongst SMEs in Berkshire.”
Jane Galsworthy, Director of Development at Oxford Innovation adds, “We are delighted to be able to work with Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and our partners to provide this highly valuable service for Berkshire businesses. Our experienced team has a long history of supporting businesses that are hungry for growth, to make their vision a reality. We know that with the right support, direction and finance, Berkshire’s SMEs will be in a greater position to scale up and compete against their national and global counterparts.”