Tenth anniversary for scaleup specialist


A recently published report by the renowned ScaleUp Institute confirms the importance of scaleup businesses to the economy. Across the UK there are over 36,000 scaleups, an increase of 3.7% from 2016.

ScaleUp Institute chief executive Irene Graham said: “Scaleups are the engine drivers of local economies; they are twice as innovative as large firms, employ twice as many apprentices, are twice as likely to be operating in international markets, and, significantly, they create high quality jobs.”

Oxford Innovation (OI) has been active in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for a decade, delivering ERDF-funded business coaching programmes that have transformed the fortunes of client companies. Thanks to its accelerated growth, many of those businesses now meet the exclusive scaleup criteria – at least 20% growth per annum over the past three years – with many others well on the way to that target with support from OI.

Reflecting on a decade of successful engagement with the most ambitious businesses in the county, operations director, Andrew Farmer, said: “OI is wholly focused on scaleups – we have developed a deep understanding of how to support these businesses that are essential to the economic prosperity of the region and we are deeply proud of our methodologies and the excellence of the team that delivers them.”

Beneficiaries of OI’s support have been keen to express their thanks.

Jim Michell

“At Barefoot we had a record year in 2018,” said Jim Michell, MD of PR and digital marketing agency Barefoot Media. “Turnover grew 32%, building on growth of 23% in 2017. Working with our lead coach, Sarah Pryce, has been fantastic. It has been great to build up a rapport and trust with her over a longer time, which has created a secure base from where we can really focus on the strategies to help grow the business.

“The ongoing work with Oxford Innovation is helping us prepare for the next chapter of growth for the year ahead.”

Another OI client who draws clear lines between the coaching his business has received and the speed with which it has grown it Samuele Armondi, MD of digital marketing agency and software house Everest Media.

“Oxford Innovation has been absolutely vital to our growth from four staff to 18 in just a couple of years,” he said. “The guidance offered by the coaches helped us immensely when taking major decisions, and the extensive network of specialists available really helped us when looking at very detailed and complex issues. Would we have grown without Oxford Innovation? Probably. Have we grown faster thanks to Oxford Innovation? Definitely.”

Oxford Innovation’s latest coaching programme, Oxford Innovation Cornwall, seeks to help ambitious businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly achieve more. With a focus on productivity, leadership and management, and the effective recruitment of senior roles, the programme is available to established businesses that turn over more than £250k and display significant ambition and growth potential. It also offers coaching for high growth start-ups with the potential to achieve £250k turnover within three years.

A separate OI programme, Access to Finance, offers a number of services to businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly seeking finance to invest in future growth. From one-to-one sessions with finance specialists to interactive masterclasses and practical group sessions, Access to Finance offers support whether a client is seeking debt, crowdfunding or equity partnerships. The team also offers expertise in grant applications, helping clients prepare strong cases for funding. Since launching in 2017, the programme has raised more than £10 million for clients across various forms of finance.

Both programmes are funded by the European Regional Development Fund, meaning all support provided is available at no cost to eligible businesses.