Company history

Ixion's journey to success

 

Ixion over a decade ago was primarily Business Link in first Essex and then the whole of the East of England, plus it was UKTI contract for Inward Investment and also the Exporting contracts for the Regional Development Agency (EEDA) through its JV company called EEIDB Ltd. Now its so much more...

     

 

In 2001 the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) re-organised the national network of 86 Business Links to 45 larger ones covering the same region. In that year the Ixion Holdings Limited group (Ixion) started trading as a single company called Business Link for Essex Limited.

The company won the Small Business Service (SBS) (an agency of the DTI) operating licence to operate Business Link branded services in the county of Essex. Business Link for Essex was one of the 45 Business Link operators providing the service across England.

At the same time, the Essex Learning and Skills awarded Business Link for Essex various contracts to deliver workforce development programmes, particularly Investors in People.

The main competences required of the Business Link for Essex company at the time, aside from competent management of public funding, was to provide an access gateway to all DTI and Learning Skills Council (LSC) business support and workforce development services for the 60,000 VAT registered businesses (and start-ups) in Essex.

In addition to providing “access”, the core of these services to business is to provide information, diagnose business and training needs and broker solutions from appropriate service and training providers.

Business Link operated as a “one stop shop” for the needs of its business customers.


In 2004 a change in government policy removed the Business Link brand from the operating company’s names. To comply with the new brand rules, Business Link for Essex Limited changed its name to Essex Business Support Limited.

At the same time, the SBS also made a decision to move responsibility for the Business Link operator network to the 9 Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) from April 2005.

Simultaneously, National LSC decided to regionalise training and workforce development provision.

The fundamental reasons behind both these changes was to reduce infrastructure and back office support costs thus saving public funds, so more services could be made available to business customers and indirectly to individuals.

The complete regionalisation and revision of both Business Link and Workforce Development Services was expected to be completed by April 2007.

To meet these challenges, in 2004, Essex Business Support Limited conducted a business risk assessment and decided on a policy of market diversification and growth, by building on its huge experience and expertise in workforce development and business support and exploiting its reputation for excellence in delivery.

A key plank of this growth strategy was building collaboration with key public and private sector partners as an entry route into new markets.

In 2004, a decision was made to set up a commercially focused business division, i.e. Marketing and Events, Technologies and Environmental. As a result of this, Essex Business Support set up Ixion Business Limited (formerly The Service Brokerage Limited), to operate outside its traditional operating area in Essex. Ixion Business Limited achieved its first success in late 2004 by winning a £1.2 million, 2 year contract for Investors in People services in London, in partnership with Exemplas Limited.


In 2005 Ixion Business secured its first international contract to provide Investors in People support in the Middle East. In 2006 this company, operating as an unincorporated consortium with Reed in Partnership and Exemplas Limited, secured the Train to Gain Specialist Skills Brokerage London contract.

The London Brokerage Consortium – Delivered Train to Gain to the whole of London operated two contracts in London:

Skills Brokerage Service
Leadership and Management Specialist Advice Service
Business Link for Essex Holdings Limited had been formed as the ultimate parent company of the emerging group. This company was later renamed Ixion Holdings Limited (IXION) to conform to the subsequent requirements of the BL brand changes.


In 2006 Ixion set up a joint venture, with Exemplas Holdings Limited, called East of England IDB Limited. This company successfully secured the EEDA contract to provide the regional Business Link service for the East of England and it began trading as Business Link East on April 1st 2007. This contract was worth in excess of £15m per annum and Ixion owns 50% of the joint venture company.

Also, in 2006 Essex Business Support Limited secured the Train to Gain Specialist Skills Brokerage contract for the East of England.

Ixion Holdings Limited is an accredited Investor in People company and secured its Customer First accreditation on its first try in early 2007.


In December 2009 EEIDB Ltd then pitched for and successfully re-won the 3 year contract from EEDA of what had become a £20m tender for Business Link Services in the East of England.

Furthermore, in December 2009 EEIDB Ltd pitched for and won from EEDA for the UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) and also the Inward Investment contracts in the region that started on 1 April 2010.


30th April 2010 Ixion Holdings Ltd acquired the £4m p.a. organisation, Computer Gym (UK) Ltd and was re-named Ixion CG Ltd and has an enviable track track of front line delivery in the areas of Employability, Welfare to Work and Reducing Re-offending. Ixion CG Ltd operates as a seperate legal entity but will form part of the growing group of Ixion Holdings Ltd companies.

In 2010 Ixion succesfully got on to the DWP Work Programme framework as part of Paragon Concord Intl Ltd consoritum, with 5 other companies, Twin, Penna, Pinnacle, Acton Training College and Community Systems.

Ixion won a substantial European Framework 7 contract for research innovation funding with a consortium of private sector companies in 2010.


In June 2011 Ixion won 3 major sub-contracts from primes on the DWP Single Work Programme in London East, London West and Thames Valley, Hampshire & Isle of Wight. Also we are on Primes framework as a specialist provider in the East of England, Yorks & Humber and also in NW England. Subsequently Ixion has been awarded another Single Work Programme contract with another Prime in Newbury and High Wycombe.

In August 2011 Ixion won 3 major DWP/JCP contracts for the New Enterprise Allowance across 3 contracts. One in South London, one in Essex and one in East Anglia (Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk). The focus is getting unemployed clients to help with their own business start-ups and volunteer mentoring support.

Late 2011 Ixion wins a Regional Growth Fund bid in the NE England, County Durham and Ixion also becomes preferred bidder for an NHS contract in NW England.


In Jan 2012 Ixion becomes a prime contractor with the NHS in Chesire (NW England) to help with returning veterans.

In August 2013 Ixion changed its legal corporate structure that retained its Not for Profit position but in such a way that 100% of its profits are gift aided to its parent that is a Charity, Anglia Ruskin University. This allows for Ixion to now access funding and parental guarantee support for winning even larger Government contracts.

Ixion took on a major Community Work Placement sub-contract in June 2014 across London, working for G4S ( as part of DWP contracts)

Ixion won DWP / Job Centre Plus New Enterprise Allowance (NEA 1) Contracts covering all of London

Ixion won £30m of NOMS (MoJ) reducing re-offending contracts covering all of the West Midlands and also South East England & the Thames Valley

Ixion achieves in Oct 2015 an Ofsted GOOD (2) grade and is awarded Good, with outstanding Features, under the new harder Common Inspection Framework

Ixion passes at its 1st attempt the MERLIN standard and does so as the 3rd best first time score at 83%. This is an award focused on supply chain management.

Ixion passes its PAT test (Provider Assurance Test)

Ixion again passes its quality MATRIX assessment

Ixion does a Joint Venture with Shaw Trust to merge their Skills Divisions in 2016 (STAR Skills Ltd)

Ixion in 2016 wins DWP employability contracts in Yorkshire

Ixion in 201 wins Big Lottery contracts in Stoke & Staffordshire and also in Essex

Ixion in 2017 won the New Enterprise Contracts (NEA 2) for all of London and also wins the South East of England contracts too (Co-financed contracts with DWP & European Union Social Fund)