Oxfordshire sets out long-term economic programme to back county’s world-leading sectors & create jobs

Oxford North aerial view looking towards the City centre[4]

A £4.3 billion investment plan for Oxfordshire, which aims to generate significant national and international financial backing, has been published by the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership.

Led by OxLEP, the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy Investment Plan calls upon the UK Government and international investors to back a portfolio of programmes and projects created to support the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and trigger significant job openings and commercial activity.

By 2030, the investment plan’s portfolio of projects will aim to deliver 24,500 jobs, 2,700 qualifications, create support for over 41,000 adult and young learners, as well as adding 350,000m² of new commercial and innovation floorspace countywide.

The launch of the investment plan follows the joint-publication of its parent document with the UK Government.

The Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy – launched last September at the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford – set out an aim for the county to be one of the leading business and innovation networks in the world by 2040.

Since then, working alongside senior leaders from the Oxfordshire business community, local authorities, universities and education sectors, OxLEP has translated the idea and ambitions within the strategy into an investment programme worth over £4.3 billion, initially to 2030.

The plan seeks a public sector investment ask of £1.1 billion from Government and other agencies which, in turn, OxLEP says will unlock at least £2.6 billion of private sector investment into the economy, alongside over £700 million-worth of already committed  funding for some key infrastructure schemes across the county.

Built around five investment pillars of: ideas, people, business environment, infrastructure and place, the plan highlights a portfolio of 20 investment-ready projects ready for delivery, together with a further 19 others in development and will provide the basis for the future activity.

Some of the headline projects in the plan include:

  • A £172 million Energy Systems Accelerator – a global hub for knowledge sharing and collaboration in net zero-carbon energy systems, positioning Oxfordshire and the UK as a global leader.
  • A £18.3 million Oxfordshire Social Contract, Careers Innovation Gateway (CIG) – a transformative programme focused on driving social mobility and long-term career opportunities for young people across Oxfordshire, including those in receipt of pupil premium funding in the county’s most deprived communities.
  • The Harwell International Space Cluster – a package of three projects that will expand the Harwell Space Cluster into one of the world’s leading locations for space technologies and downstream services. Currently, the cluster comprises 105 organisations which collectively employs over 1,100 space professionals, making it the most-concentrated group of space companies in Europe.
  • A Global Health and Life Sciences Cluster programme – a package of two projects located in the heart of the Headington comprising the University of Oxford’s Old Road Campus, Oxford University Hospitals Trust and pioneering research hubs such as the Jenner Institute. It will deliver a world-leading Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility and the expansion of a new BioEscalator incubator for spin-out and research and development business collaborations

Nigel Tipple, Chief Executive of OxLEP, said: “This is an extremely important and exciting moment in our quest to develop the Oxfordshire economy, whilst backing our businesses to develop jobs and career opportunities of the future for our young people and local communities.

“This plan is focussed on building a world-leading innovation network, which competes successfully for the UK at a global level against our rival international hubs and creates employment and an inclusive, prosperous economy at home.”

OxLEP adds that the newly-launched investment plan is also responding to the economic challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for businesses, supply chains and workforces across Oxfordshire, as well as the need to build an inclusive economy for all communities across the county.

Nigel added: “Right now, our scientists, businesses and researchers are stepping-up to tackle some of the most difficult issues facing our nation – indeed the world – including the search for a vaccine to tackle the COVID-19 global pandemic, and the long-term societal challenges created by climate change.

“Alongside this, the vision and dynamism of our innovators and entrepreneurs is harnessing the opportunities created by exciting new transformative technologies in space applications, life sciences, connected and autonomous systems, quantum computing and more. They are driving the next generation of businesses, products and services which will create new and long-term employment opportunities for Oxfordshire’s young people and local communities, ensuring we build a resilient, clean and inclusive economy for the future.”

In addition, the urgency of the climate change emergency and a need to foster clean growth are further key imperatives the plan works to respond to.

Nigel added: “Everyone has a role to play in making this investment plan successful, real and relevant – government, communities, investors, educators, entrepreneurs, innovators and more. We hope to engage as many of these groups as possible in the coming months.”

Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP has secured around £660 million of investment for the county and – alongside key partners – currently oversees a growth programme worth a total of £2.2 billion.

It recently secured £8.4 million of investment for Oxfordshire through the Government’s Getting Building Fund.