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Take-off for Scale-up: now we’re hands-on to work with the very best

Earlier this year we set out our stall to help a select band of companies deliver their ultra-high growth ambitions.  Now that work starts in earnest.

Written by David Golding on 14 September 2017

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Our expert advisers are in place, some of the country’s most exciting and hungry business are now in focus…so the road is clear for the next 12-15 months to make a transformational difference to the companies, their employees and customers, and to UK plc itself.

 

Growing and scaling: vital for the economy

 

Recent international evidence shows that a small number of high-growth firms are vital to driving job growth and overall economic growth. Just six per cent of UK businesses with the highest growth rates generated half of the new jobs created by existing businesses between 2002 and 2008.

 

And while the UK now has a larger number of start-ups than ever before, only 2% of them go on to generate at least £1m in revenues after 3 years, achieving this early indication of ‘scale’.  

 

We know, therefore, that our challenge here in the the UK is how to get many more start-ups to grow and scale and to deliver more jobs and growth.

 

Aligning with the aims of the UK Government Industrial Strategy and the national cross government Task Force for Scale Ups, Innovate UK’s Enterprise Europe Network-led Scale Up Pilot is now identifying a small group – around 30 - of high growth innovative SMEs to address barriers to exponential expansion and global scaling.  This pilot, funded by the European Commission and Innovate UK, is a key strand of the Commission’s ‘Start-up and Scale-up Initiative’.

 

Progress with our project so far

 

Since launching the project in the summer, we’ve made quick progress.  Our EEN partners across England, Northern Ireland and Wales have already identified 18 companies to come on board with the project and received dedicated support.  We are in advanced discussions with a further cohort of high growth-potential businesses so are well on course to hit our target of having 30 companies working with their specialist advisers by the end of December.  They will work intensively together over the coming months, with full project evaluation – and any recommendations for future expansion – set for the second half of 2018.

 

Specialist advisers bringing direct experience to bear

 

And what of these specialist ‘Scale-Up Advisers’?  Six are already in place and getting stuck in to their company relationships, with one more to be appointed.  The individuals concerned – whom we will profile in later blogs – are a combination of coach, mentor, critical friend and champion with the ability to be agile, flexible and responsive, meeting the needs of each of the individual businesses. They are people who are well connected and networked with an extensive book of contacts; have grown their own business; perhaps failed; but understand what it takes to succeed and what good looks like.  They will provide both hands on expertise to the business as well as to connect them into targeted support such as strategic management and leadership, access to training, including pitching to investors, and help to access overseas markets.

 

This is a pilot project so essentially small and tightly focussed in nature.  We hope it will build the foundations for more extensive work in this critical area in the future.  Look out for future blogs covering the progress of this pilot, including insights into the companies themselves and the experiences of our very capable band of specialist Scale-Up advisers.