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Oxfordshire Focus

PUBLISHED: 15:35 25 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:56 20 February 2013

Oxfordshire Focus

Oxfordshire Focus

A round of Oxfordshire Business News.

Oxfordshire Focus

Cotswolds seizes share of new 200 million growth programme

Anew 200 million programme to help UK businesses achieve growth, is being delivered to companies across the Cotswolds by a consortium that includes Oxford Innovation.

Funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the support doesnt favour one industry sector over any other, but businesses will only be eligible if they can demonstrate they have the potential for high growth and must have the capability of doubling business in three years.

Called GrowthAccelerator the service provides approved high quality business coaches, and costs 3,500 but there are significant subsidies for all SME businesses, from startups to 40 million turnover. In the 2 million 10 million turnover band, a maximum of 2,000 is available.

The Government describes this as a new partnership between the private sector and government which will see business experts working with companies to identify and overcome barriers to growth, addressing issues such as commercialisation, innovation, securing finance and developing leadership and management capability.

Martin Douglas is working on the project at Oxford Innovation, alongside David Sheppard. He reports that local business take up has been quick. Between us were now working with around 100 clients. My particular sector focuses on aerospace and marine companies, but Im also working with two rapidly growing printing companies, an advertising agency and a food manufacturer.

David, who covers Oxfordshire, currently has a sign-up rate of 100 per cent. Its because theres such a flexible approach designed to fit the company, not something being imposing from Government on high, he says.

Martin explains that success really comes when the right growth manager, (recruited from senior levels within commercial enterprises - all of whom have a background of working with SMEs), is matched with the right company. The engagement can last up to 12 months. We are determined to make the programme as productive and beneficial to the client as we can, he says, adding: I think personality fit is critical. David Sheppard agrees. The chemistry
is vital.

One man who agrees with the programme is Gary Frank CEO of the hugely successful Fabulous Bakin Boys, based at Witney. The company was an early adopter of the Growth Accelerator programme and Gary is very enthusiastic about the difference its making .

Our growth manager has been fantastic, it really helps that hes got a lot of experience. As part of the programme, The Fabulous Bakin Boys are about to take time out from the office. We want to have a long look at how we take the business forward and we can only do that away from the daily office routine.

Gary is confident that the independent view of an experienced manager will help his team focus on the bigger picture. The Fabulous Bakin Boys has been producing family cakes and bakery products for over 11 years, supplying supermarkets, independent shops and garage forecourts. It now turns over 18 million a year but Gary is looking to double turnover in the next five years. Last year the company installed a 3 million production line.

Growth Accelerator service:

Business support initiative runs to March 2015 (with possible 3 year extension)

Aimed primarily at businesses with the potential to achieve sustained high growth (20%+ pa)

Objective is to help businesses overcome the constraints to high growth

Will help up to 10,000 SMEs each year

Subsidised but not free support companies must make a contribution dependent on size

Main offering is coaching customised to each business

Delivered in the South/South West by Oxford Innovation together with specialist regional partners and working in partnership with the Department for Business Innovation Skills (BIS).


Business Coaching for Growth is aimed at three types of potential high growth SMEs with associated criteria as follows:

Starts/Pre-starts able to achieve 1m sales or employ 10 people in 3 years

Micros (under 10 staff) increase turnover by 750k or employ 7 more people in 3 years

Established SMEs (10+ staff) 20% pa growth over 3 years.

All companies will go through an Acquisition Process (covering eligibility, suitability for high growth and identification of barriers to high growth and agreement/sale on programme) led by a Growth Manager prior to acceptance/agreement on coaching.


Primarily business coaching spread over several months, delivered by an experienced coach. Coaches are selected for each company from a qualified pool of up to 800 experts according to several criteria. NG

Coaching services available are:

Business Development Coaching (BDC) tailored coaching from one or more experts at a place convenient to the CEO

Access to Finance Coaching (A2F) including coaching, small master classes and introductions to funding sources

Access to Innovation (H2I) including coaching and small master classes. This covers product (including IP protection coaching), market and culture

Also includes:

Up to six workshops on specialist high growth topics

Connectivity (to facilities, specialist individuals/organisations/support (eg TSB, MAS), network, mentors)

Leadership & Management Training:

An L&M grant of up to 2,000 per individual is available with no limit on the number of individuals in a business able to participate. The business is required to match any L&M grant.


The rate of company cash contribution is related to company size and complexity of the Growth Plan.

Childrens bookshop thats perfect for parents

One business that may not be too sorry about the rainy summer is Barefoot Books, celebrating its first year of business in Oxford after relocating to the city after 19 years in Bath.

Barefoot Books, based on the Banbury Road in Summertown, is a publisher of books for children from 0-12, which have a strong multi-cultural focus. Its also a destination for families looking for something to occupy their children, especially on a wet day. This is a place where children can read, do activities that relate to and out of the books and wheres theres also space to run around.

Tessa Strickland is one of the founders and editor in chief. She says the business moved because Oxford is more of a publishing city than Bath and being centrally located would help its support its national Barefoot homeselling network. The business also has retail outlets in New England and New York, USA.

Earlier this year, Barefoot Books Storytellers Cafe won a design award for the best family restaurant in England. Brothers Vladimir and Jose Niza create the dishes which are sourced largely from Oxfordshire farmers.

In Oxford were also becoming quite a destination, says Tessa.


Out and about with the Prime Minister

IoD Oxfordshire members met with The Rt Hon David Cameron MP recently. Hosted at the Blue Boar, in the PMs constituency of Witney, guests heard the Prime Minister speak on business and the economy before answering questions. David Cameron spoke on the change that needs to happen in the balance of public and private sector jobs and the heavy reliance of the economy on financial services jobs and the south east of the country.

Mike Collett, chair of the IoD Oxfordshire branch said: It was a real honour to have David Cameron address our guests and to answer their questions. He reminded us that as business leaders we have the support of the government and that we really do have a key role to play in moving the economy forward.

A little bit of Italy in the Cotswold Hills

Exotic-sounding Italian landscape designer, Lorenzo Soprani Volpini, has brought his Mediterranean influences to the Cotswolds.

Having moved here from his native Italy in 1999, Lorenzo fell in love with the English countryside and studied horticulture to increase his knowledge of plants and their ideal environments.

However, one of his current projects is back home in Italy, the restoration of an old farmhouse and cottage outh of Ancona. The plans are to extend the main farmhouse, making it into a seven-bedroom exclusive boutique hotel. Lorenzo will be working on the 6-acre garden site to introduce a natural pool, a kitchen garden providing produce for guests and a wellness area for yoga, Pilates and aerobics.

Based in Radcot, Oxfordshire, Lorenzo has already completed a number of projects both in the Cotswolds, London and overseas.


Burmese Leader joins British PMfor tea at Aston Pottery

Its not often, here at Cotswold Business and Professional Life, that we can run a story on an iconic international leader dropping in on a Cotswolds business.

We can this month, following Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyis visit to Aston Pottery in Oxfordshire with Rt Hon David Cameron during her trip to the UK this summer, with the worlds media tagging along.

2000 local people turned out for the event, which celebrated Aston Potterys 21st anniversary. The Burmese leader of the opposition toured the pottery workshops seeing the process involved in making and decorating the distinctive Aston Pottery ceramic.

After a brief look around the award-winning shop (we wonder whether she bought anything), she joined David Cameron, Aston Pottery owners Stephen and Jane Baughan and 200 local primary school children for a tea party thrown in honour of the businesss 21stAnniversary year.

It was simply an incredible day which surpassed our expectations, said Stephen.

STLs MD wins Oxfordshire Business Person of the Year 2012

Brendon Cross, founder and MD of STL Communications, has won the 2012 Oxfordshire Business Person of the Year award. He received his trophy at the Oxfordshire Business Awards ceremony from former Olympic athlete Kriss Akabusi in front of 500 Oxfordshire business people.

Brendon said: This is a direct result of huge efforts by everyone at STL. It is fantastic to be recognised by your peers, especially in the face of such strong competition.

STL grew by 30% last year and aims to do so again in 2012, boosted by winning the telephone contract for L2012C at the Olympic stadium. Brendon added: Its exciting year for STL. We opened a London office to capitalise on our Olympic success and employed more people. Winning this award is the icing on the cake.

Caterham makes new home at Leafield

The Caterham Group has moved to a new home at Leafield Technical Centre in Oxfordshire, at the heart of Motorsport Valley TM. The motorsport, automotive and technology business comprises Caterham F1 Team, Caterham Racing (GP2), Caterham Cars, Caterham Composites and CTI (Caterham Technology and Innovation).

It is less than three years since the first building blocks of what has now become Caterham Group were put in place by Tony Fernandes and his fellow shareholders when they were granted entry to the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship in September 2009 with just four full-time employees. Now, approximately 200 Caterham F1 and GP2 staff are relocating to Leafield. The F1 and GP2 teams will be first to relocate, and Caterham Cars will be moving its HQ to Leafield in due course. The refurbishment of the site is to planned to be finished by this month.

Riad Asmat, Caterham Group CEO: I share Tonys excitement about the future for Caterham Group and am delighted that Leafield is up and running. We have worked incredibly hard over the last three years to build a range of businesses that complement each other, have transferrable technology and skills-bases and allow us to attract the best people for each role. Physically, Leafield is the next logical step in the growth of Caterham Group, its location alone allows us to access the pool of talent that is already in place throughout the UKs motorsport valley, but it also plays an important role psychologically. An investment of the level the shareholders have made in Leafield is a sure sign of how long-term their plans for the Group are, and how serious they are about achieving success across all our businesses.

In Oxfordshire, Caterham will be amongst other Formula 1 teams such as fellow 2010 newcomers Marussia.

Local celebrities give thumbs up to Fibre to the People

Plans are under way to roll out high speed broadband across rural Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, but where does that leave rural Oxfordshire?

BT is doing its bit, by announcing the delivery of high speed broadband to Chipping Norton, apparently taking the number of properties with high speed broadband in the county up to 155,000, but one local business says that such an initiative only goes part of the way.

Chipping Norton-based Cotswold Broadband says that BT will deliver its service to street-located cabinets within the town, not necessarily to individual houses.

Hugo Pickering, CEO of Cotswold Broadband said: Our aim is to deliver a fibre-based high speed broadband service direct to households and businesses in and around the town, considered by BT and other providers to be commercially unviable, so that they wont have to use inferior FttC (Fibre to the Cabinet) copper connections.

Local resident and Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, added his support: As we know, speed is good. Speed is right. Speed works. So I fully support Cotswolds Broadband in providing ultra-fast broadband here in West Oxfordshire. This will prove invaluable within the local community and help ensure that businesses thrive and remain here. Personally, I just cant wait.

Cotswolds Broadband has now had a first tranche of funding agreed by DEFRA through its Rural Community Broadband Fund. The Cotswolds Broadband prospectus (under the Enterprise Investment Scheme) was launched in September. Hugo said: We believe our Community Investment programme will interest those individuals and organisations based in West Oxfordshire who, like me, are frustrated by the lack of investment by telecom providers in rural areas which will negatively impact on our local economy. We collectively have to take control of our own connected future if we are to be competitive and to have our lives enhanced by all the benefits that next generation broadband will bring.

Martha Lane Fox, the UKs digital champion and co-founder of Go ON UK added: Cotswolds Broadbands vision of a superfast broadband service that covers the UK in its entirety is a key part of the future of rural Britain. Without companies like this, we are in danger of disenfranchising large sections of our population.

For Chipping Norton-based production facility, The Hall, which produces and edits award-winning television and corporate video programmes, high speed broadband cant come soon enough. Managing Director, Rob Burchell, said: Keeping at the forefront of technology means we need to future-proof our communications as well, for which we need broadband that allows us to upload massive files. We support Cotswolds Broadband in delivering this infrastructure.

As we go to press, Cotswolds Broadband will be switching on a pilot scheme in Ascott Under Wychwood, after which the organisation will hold a series of Open Evenings in town and village halls for local residents and business owners to learn more about how to get involved with the project.


Harwell to host new centre for Satellite innovation

Harwell Oxford science and innovation campus has been selected to host the new centre for satellite innovation.

The new Satellite Applications Catapult, one of seven new technology and innovation centres to be established by the UKs innovation agency, The Technology Strategy Board, will be based at Harwell in South Oxfordshire.

The Oxfordshire location was chosen because of the growing cluster of organisations dedicated to advances in space technology and development of satellite applications. From Harwell, the Satellite Applications Catapult can support UK business across the country, developing commercially successful satellite-based applications and services.

Making the announcement at the Farnborough International Air Show, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: Im delighted that the Satellite Applications Catapult will be located at Harwell. The Technology Strategy Board is already committed to investing 10 million this year alone in innovation in technologies that make use of satellite and space infrastructure. The Catapult will give real impetus to commercial development in this area, where the UK can set itself ahead of the competition.

The 2010 Space Innovation and Growth Strategy set objectives for growing the UK space industry from 6% to 10% of global market, which translates to 40bn for the UK by 2030.

Paul Febvre, Project Director of the Satellite Applications Catapult delivery team, added: The Catapult will be a world-class centre for the development and commercial exploitation of satellite products, services and applications. It will be the place where the best researchers, SMEs and large companies come together and innovate with satellite technology and applications.

We are excited to be establishing the Catapult at Harwell, from there we can build strong foundations by engaging with the UKs existing assets and regional competencies.

Ian Wenman, Deputy Chairman of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: The LEP lobbied hard for the Catapult to be established at Harwell, especially our former chairman, Dr Martin Dare-Edwards, and great credit is due for all his energy and enthusiasm for the project.

The Satellite Applications Catapult centre is expected to be operational later this year.

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