As we prepare to get ‘back to business’ post-Covid, many of us realise that we need more than just a desk when it comes to growth and acceleration. The absence of community highlights that there is no substitute for face-to-face communication, but it’s the value of working in an environment that cultivates and inspires collaboration that will help organisations that are ready to come back stronger.

This strategy forms the basis of the Oxford Innovation network of 26 centres around the UK, uniquely positioned and equipped to offer business support services through centre Innovation Directors.  The latest edition to this network is The EpiCentre in Haverhill, which opened in November 2020. The centre includes wet and tissue culture labs, 53 offices of varying sizes and communal areas including equipped kitchens and a café, for those all important serendipitous meetings ‘over a coffee’ or ‘down the corridor’.

In this, the first in a number of pieces, that will cover coaching, business networking and making connections, and improving skills and knowledge, we look at the importance of business support. While there maybe a growing trend towards flexible workspaces that do not tie businesses in on long, medium or even short leases, there are few of these that really work on the philosophy that “their success is our success”.

At the best of times trying to grow a business can seem overwhelming and how often have you heard the phrase, “I can’t see the wood for the trees”. Building a business is no easy task and while it all may have seemed clear in the first flush of excitement where you had a great idea or a sure-fire winner of a product, the starry-eyed excitement soon wears off and reality kicks-in.

It can be a lonely road out there with so many things to think about – “what is my great idea”, “how do I go about growing it” and “where do I get the funds to move forward”?

More often than not the great idea is the vision of one person or a small group of people who haven’t had that the benefit of running a business and little idea of taking a product or service to market.

Of course, there is always a bit of luck involved, being in the right place at the right time, but accelerating the programme could save a lot of time, money and heartache.

Below are some of the tools and services used to help provide valuable insights and direction:

  • Business Model Canvas – this is a strategic management template used for developing new business models and documenting existing ones. It is a great tool to help understand and strategize value for both existing business models and new opportunities. Put simply, you can see where you are as a business and where you want to go.
  • GROWTHmapper – this is the UK’s leading business diagnostic tool, developed by Oxford Innovation. This process involves input online, independently from Senior Managers and is used to highlight strengths as well as areas for improvement.
  • OION is our Angel Networkpart of the service we offer is to help you prepare for pitches, if you plan to raise capital. As part of SQW Group, The EpiCentre is also well connected with Innovate UK Edge for access to grants and finance.
  • Business and community events – we endeavour to support our customers by hosting events that deliver tangible value and provide networking opportunities. From the ‘Back to Business’ roadshow to supporting the ‘Business Festival’ and ‘Tech and Beer’ to our very own social events, we have a calendar of activity that has been carefully curated to support our community.

As a operator of incubation space and suitable environments for businesses to prosper, we identify businesses with growth potential and deliver the bespoke support that they need to scale up. By improving commercial competency, businesses become more resilient, create jobs and generate wealth.

Author: Babita Devi, The EpiCentre, Innovation Director