Nurturing shoots of success


A new business support programme in Cornwall has been delivering some instant results.

After only six months of delivery, Oxford Innovation’s ERDF-funded Access2Finance programme has helped businesses in Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly raise £2 million in funding, five times more than the forecast target.

Furthermore, the business coaching specialist has also announced that in eight years of working with growing businesses in the Duchy, it has helped clients to create over 2,750 new high-value jobs.

Andrew Finley, project director of Access2Finance for Oxford Innovation, commented: “This is a fantastic result for the project team and our clients in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It clearly demonstrates the market demand for our services and is testament to the fact that, despite the uncertainty of Brexit, ambitious local businesses continue to invest for the growth of their own future as well as that of Cornwall.”

Oxford Innovation, which specialises in supporting entrepreneurship, improving the competitiveness of SMEs and providing expert coaching to start-ups and high growth enterprises, has provided specialist financial expertise to businesses including Wheelbarrow, an independent, landscape design, build and creative gardening company working with private and commercial clients nationwide.

Established 12 years ago by Darren Hawkes and following year on year sales growth as well as high-profile accolades including gold and silver- gilt medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the Fowey-based business was looking to scale-up and invest in a new facility to meet requirements and expand commercial activities.

As one of the few Devon and Cornwall businesses to win such awards, Hawkes understood that expansion also meant higher overheads, increased demand, new jobs and a change to the company’s structure therefore he sought expert assistance from Oxford Innovation.

He explained: “As a small, independent company delivering award-winning landscape designs, we reached a point in our growth where we were at full capacity and needed to take that next step forward. However, despite the opportunities before us, it was also essential that we maintained the same high level of creativity, professionalism and dedicated customer service.

“After being unable to secure match funding elsewhere, we approached OI to discuss our options and were given a very comprehensive overview of what was achievable. We have worked with OI for three years now and they have been invaluable in helping us to implement a very strategic growth plan, carry out a change of infrastructure, double staff numbers from five to ten including employing a business manager and contracts manager, and more recently, secure £100k worth of funding through SWIG Finance.”