A pioneering business advice service, which has given birth to several successful Oxfordshire companies, is to close.

More deprived areas are being targeted by the South East England Development Agency (Seeda), which spells the end of the Faringdon Enterprise Gateway.

The advice centre will close, but the building, which offers office space and workshops for start-up companies, is likely to be kept on, according to Business Link, which runs the project.

Elaine Whittaker, of Business Link, said: "There has been no cut in funding across the South East, but there will be a greater focus on outreach in the areas of greatest deprivation."

Director David North said: "While from a Faringdon point of view I can see the frustration at the facility going, I can understand the wider picture and I can see that other areas have more need."

He added: "I feel that I have given it a reallly good headstart and that a lot of what we have set up will continue."

As well as advising tenants, the project has set up two business networks, Inspire and the Faringdon Women's Network, provided a home for the local chamber of commerce and forged links between school students and local employers.

Mr North said another example of its success was the fact that three of its successful companies have outgrown the centre and expanded into larger shared premises in the centre of Faringdon.

Julie Farmer, of myPA, said: "My business started with just me and a borrowed laptop. I couldn't have done it without the support and help of the Gateway. It's such a shame that it is closing."

Her company, which provides virtual PAs' and recruitment consultancy for small businesses, has taken on its first full-time employee, and has another four or five part-timers.

Ms Farmer said: "The Gateway's strength is helping young business get off the ground and while I had my office at the Gateway I was able to learn from other businesses, join in their successes and learn from their errors, as they were able to from mine.

"Instead of going to work on my own, I had a number of work colleagues who ran their own businesses and I have now moved into a shared office with two of them, Simplyicons and Weaver Khan."

Simplyicons and Weaver Khan Architects are also expanding and taking on new staff.

Simplyicons is an online shop, started by Paula Stockton, which supports fundraising by sports clubs, schools and community groups by selling items branded with their logo.

Faringdon Boys Football Club, for example, has fleeces, baseball caps, beanies and mugs emblazoned with the club's logo.

The project will be wound up at the end of September, but Ms Whittaker said: "We are hoping to redeploy the two staff."

Two weeks ago, the Oxford Mail reported that Business Link had withdrawn grants to the Ethnic Minorities Business Service and Oxfordshire Business Enterprises