Our voice of business this month is: Caroline Hargrave, Research Manager at Buckinghamshire LEP

The state of the UK economy and labour market has frequently been headline news over the last few years. At a local level, it is vital to dig beneath the national headlines to really understand how the local economy is performing and importantly the opportunities for growth. The Buckinghamshire Economic Intelligence Observatory (“the Observatory”) fulfils an important role by providing a window to high quality, free-to-access local economic insights produced by Buckinghamshire LEP and others.

Why the Observatory matters

  • A comprehensive view: the Observatory brings together data and insight from a wide range of reputable sources, providing users with a holistic view of the County’s economy.
  • Clear interpretation and communication: however useful data and insight could be, it needs to be communicated effectively to influence the thinking of decision makers. A variety of approaches are used on the Observatory, including the use of visuals and blogs to help tell the data stories.
  • Aiding decision makers: those requiring economic evidence to make decisions sit within a wide range of organisations, from the private to the public sector, and at different levels of seniority. As a trusted, up-to-date and open resource, decision makers are able to gain easy access to the information they need when they need it.
  • Fostering collaboration: the Observatory is more than just a data platform; it is a platform for dialogue. It helps bring together stakeholders with common interests, fostering an environment of collaboration. There are also strong links between the Observatory and the Bucks Data Exchange – a platform that provides data about the local population, primarily for voluntary sector organisations.

Since its inception in November 2021, the Observatory has played a pivotal role in making local economic data and insight available in an accessible and efficient way.  It has been identified as an example of good practice by organisations located outside of the County.

Over 100 people now receive weekly update e-mails and regularly provide feedback on how the evidence has helped them in their roles. The amount of content on the site has quadrupled since inception, with much being added at the request of users.

In terms of impact, the data and insight made available through the Observatory has been used to develop policy, inform funding bids, update annual reports and make cases for change.

The next phase for the Observatory will be to focus on developing a community of research and analyst professionals from across the County who can share expertise and work together to help solve economic challenges.

If your organisation would like to be involved, please reach out to the LEP research team at research@buckslep.co.uk for further information.

To access the Observatory website, please visit: www.buckseconomy.co.uk/