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Berkshire: Oxford Innovation wins growth hub contract

By Dan Teuton
2 April 2017

Oxford Innovation has replaced VitalSix as the operator of the Business Growth Hub service for Berkshire. The service aims to help growing SMEs.

Oxford Innovation will run the service until 2021. Between 2014 and this year, the hub helped to create 177 new jobs and safeguarded a further 72, with many more indirect jobs created, according to Thames Valley Berkshire LEP.

The LEP added: "The previous operator, VitalSix, established an excellent growth hub, providing business support and unlocking growth potential for start-ups and established businesses from a diverse range of sectors."

The LEP said the hub would continue to be 'the first stop shop for business support in Berkshire' and would 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.

"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
  1. 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 January 2014, the hub directly engaged with 885 businesses, assisted 356 businesses, and provided skill-based training to 141 business leaders. £488,000 was invested in grants (matched with £949,000 of private investment), with over £3 million debt and equity investment leveraged into client companies.

Peter Read, LEP chairman, commented “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, added: “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.”