LinkedIn x +44(0)1925 730 484 Search

Newsletter Sign Up

Latest News

IED Annual Awards 2019: South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils win Greatest Economic Impact award


South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have picked up the Greatest Economic Impact award from the Institute of Economic Development (IED), the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners, for their Stronger Economy – Start Up project.

The project, linked to the councils’ Business and Innovation Strategy which highlights the importance of supporting the local start-up business culture, increasing small businesses’ resilience to economic shocks and encouraging greater productivity, ran from March 2018 to October 2019.

A series of week-long ‘Pop-up Business School’ events were held to support start-ups and stimulate the local economy. The aims of each event were to increase the confidence and wellbeing of participants, assist people to start a business and encourage new sustainable businesses. Providing an ongoing peer network of support for local start-ups and increasing awareness of the support available from the councils’ economic development team were also key project objectives.

Dedicated events were held in Didcot and Berinsfield to raise aspirations, help address deprivation and encourage people to re-enter the workforce. Separately, after Honda announced the closure of its Swindon vehicle manufacturing plant in 2021, the councils’ economic development team developed a targeted intervention package which included holding events in Faringdon and Shrivenham to encourage residents impacted by the closure to consider starting their own business. A range of project partners, who provided funding or resources, enabled the events to be free to participants.

Dr Melanie Smans, Economic Development Manager at South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, said: “The IED Greatest Economic Impact award is fantastic recognition for the work of the team to support economic development across South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse. The project’s impact spread much further than district residents and businesses: it has impacted people in the South West and Midlands. Participants travelled from neighbouring counties and even London. This is important as although it was a district councils’ project, businesses do not operate solely within district council boundaries. This ‘open door’ approach to economic development has allowed the new businesses to access supply chains, customers and networks outside of their village, parish, district or county. At the end of each week over 33% of participants had started a business, with Shrivenham seeing 48% start a business. The key to sustaining the economic impact is the initial engagement with the economic development team and the ongoing support.”

IED Chair Bev Hurley said: “We would like to congratulate South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils on winning our Greatest Economic Impact award for 2019. In previous years a select of transport schemes have won this category. This year, however, we have selected a grass-roots project where we were particularly struck by the economic return, the delivery of the service and the completeness of their impact analysis. The project provided free business advice to organisations over one week and was provided in local towns to help prevent economic shocks derailing the economy.”

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils’ success was announced at the IED Annual Awards 2019, staged as part of the IED Annual Conference in London, on 4th December.


Contact: Phil Smith, Institute of Economic Development PR consultant, 01778 218180 / 07866 436159 /

Notes to editors:

The Institute of Economic Development (IED) is the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners. Established over 30 years ago, the IED's key objective is to represent the interests of economic development practitioners and ensure their views are widely expressed and noted. The IED is committed to demonstrating the value of economic development work for local and regional communities; the pursuit of best practice in economic development and the attainment of the highest standards of professional conduct and competence.