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The problem:

Harborough District Council needed a partner to plan and deliver initial mobilisation and on-going centre management a new, purpose built Innovation Centre, whilst achieving their objectives of generating economic growth in the region and delivering Business Growth Services to its centre customers and businesses within its local area.  Funded by the EDRF, EMDA and Harborough District Council, Oxford Innovation’s business plan and contract were designed to deliver on the financial objectives but also drive the Councils economic development aims and those placed upon them by the terms of the funding grants. After a competitive procurement process Oxford Innovation were awarded the management contract in July 2011 for an initial term of 5 years. This contract has now been renewed for a further 5 year period.

The problem:

Harborough District Council needed a partner to plan and deliver initial mobilisation and on-going centre management a new, purpose built Innovation Centre, whilst achieving their objectives of generating economic growth in the region and delivering Business Growth Services to its centre customers and businesses within its local area.  Funded by the EDRF, EMDA and Harborough District Council, Oxford Innovation’s business plan and contract were designed to deliver on the financial objectives but also drive the Councils economic development aims and those placed upon them by the terms of the funding grants. After a competitive procurement process Oxford Innovation were awarded the management contract in July 2011 for an initial term of 5 years. This contract has now been renewed for a further 5 year period.

Vision and objectives

  • Delivery of Business Growth and Innovation Services to the centre customers, with a focus on the digital and media sector.
  • Create and safeguard jobs in the local community
  • Attract businesses to the local community including, in particular, early-stage, small, and innovative businesses.
  • Create and develop new businesses in the local community whilst monitoring the success of all new companies still in operation after 12 months.

Our solution and impact:

Initially, Oxford Innovation focused on setting up all elements of centre management during the mobilisation period, including furnishing and equipping central and common areas, recruitment of staff, development of the centre branding and marketing materials and activities, and recruitment of new centre customers. 

Additionally, Harborough District Council set up a private sector led Strategic Management Board to review and make recommendations regarding the effective management of Harborough Innovation Centre by Oxford Innovation.

As part of this initiative we designed templates for performance reporting, minutes and agenda setting and worked with the Strategy Board to agree a set of strategic performance goals for the project.

Once the centre was fully operational, Oxford Innovation launched a continual 12 month rolling programme of support at the centre in 2016 called Pioneer10 Harborough, an intensive accelerator programme of business support for start-ups, entrepreneurs and SME’s, designed for small, ambitious businesses in the Harborough District.

There have been some significant outcomes from the Pioneer10 programme in terms of company expansions, new company formations, growth and graduations locally. This has resulted in Oxford Innovation securing 3 additional business support contracts to deliver outreach business development and start-up support on a reactive basis.

As well as individual coaching and specialist technical support, we run an active workshop and events programme at Harborough Innovation Centre. This has helped to not only establish the Centre as the go-to hub for businesses in the district, but also where third party support providers and specialists can really get involved and boost the value of support.

Evidence of growth was shown through various client approved evidence templates customer testimonials were used to detail customer’s growth position and the part Harborough Innovation Centre played in their growth journey.

In its first 3 years, Harborough Innovation Centre achieved 96% occupancy, ahead of performance objectives set by Harborough District council.

We continue to work closely with Harborough District Council to develop and grow the business community within Harborough Innovation Centre and the surrounding district of Harborough.

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