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Innovate UK

Starting up and scaling up

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We heard from the Prime Minister in her speech to the CBI that she wants to turn the UK’s bright start-ups into successful scale-ups by backing them for the long term.

2016 Scale Up Club

This week has seen the launch of the 2016 Scale Up Club by Silicon Valley comes to the UK (SVC2UK), an organisation founded by Reid Hoffman, Sherry Coutu and Ellen Levy. The Scale Up Club brings together some of the fastest growing tech businesses across a range of sectors, those that are mostly likely to build a global business worth £100 million in the next three to five years.

Scale-up companies have a big contribution to make to the UK economy. 2016 Scale Up Club members have a combined revenue of £205 million this year, and account for nearly 2,500 jobs across the UK.

As Sherry Coutu notes in her Scale Up Report:

competitive advantage doesn't go to the nations that focus on creating companies, it goes to nations that focus on scaling companies.

Sherry also predicts that scale-up companies could:

contribute a million new jobs and an additional £1 trillion to UK economic growth by 2034.

This year’s Scale Up Club features 51 companies that have achieved an average growth rate of 47%.

7 of 51 Scale Up Club 2016 businesses were supported by Innovate UK

Innovate UK’s 5 point plan includes a focus on accelerating UK economic growth by nurturing high-growth potential SMEs in key market sectors. Of the 51 Scale Up Club 2016 members, I am pleased to see that seven (14%) have been supported in their growth by Innovate UK. They are:

  • Dressipi – leading a current collaborative R&D project to create a portable and connectable fashion footprint, predicting shoppers’ behaviour using in-store, as well as online, data
  • Green Energy Options (Geo) – previously a lead partner on a collaborative R&D project developing smart meter systems for the home
  • Hiring Hub – awarded a proof of concept grant just last year to support development of an integrated cloud recruitment system
  • Metail – supported through proof of concept and development of prototype awards to build a virtual fitting room for online shoppers, using a digital representation of a shopper’s figure
  • SEAB Energy – leading a current collaborative R&D project developing systems to maximise the generation and re-use of local waste, water and energy in retail environments
  • Snap Fashion – awarded previous grants to develop a visual search tool for fashion shoppers, and now transferring this to high street fitting rooms
  • Undo – supported through proof of concept and proof of market awards in developing their technology that assists in diagnosing and fixing software failures in the field
Jenny Griffiths, founder and CEO of SnapFashion, with app
Jenny Griffiths, founder and CEO of SnapFashion, with app

Five of the 2016 Scale Up Club were also in the 2015 Club, showing continued strong growth. Of this prestigious group three have been supported through Innovate UK (Dressipi, Snap Fashion and Undo). Software de-bugging company Undo makes a third consecutive appearance in the Club this year.

Supporting strong productivity and export success

Innovate UK’s programmes are helping businesses like these to become high-growth mid-sized companies with strong productivity and export success. Many of our collaborative R&D competitions require SMEs to be part of consortia. Our recent global partnerships competition encouraged SMEs to look up and out in developing collaborations and identifying new markets.

Innovate UK is here to work alongside the private sector, de-risking innovation, helping get ideas off the drawing board, or out of the lab, and providing confidence to the private sector in its investments in the UK’s industries of the future.

Membership of the Scale Up Club can lead to great success

SwiftKey Sold to Microsoft for $250m
SwiftKey Sold to Microsoft for $250m

Membership of the Scale Up Club is a very positive sign for UK businesses – some Club alumni companies are now valued at over $1 billion. Scotland’s Skyscanner, a member of the 2013 Club, was sold to Ctrip this week for £1.4 billion. Swiftkey, supported by Innovate UK early on in their development, were members in 2015, 2014 and 2013 before being acquired by Microsoft in a $250 million deal. M Squared Lasers, recipients of Innovate UK funding across a number of sectors, featured in the Scale Up Club in 2013 and 2014 and continue to gain recognition by just last week being named winners of the Samsung Innovation Award at the National Business Awards.

The full list of 2016 Scale Up Club members can be found here.

You can follow me on Twitter: @KevinBaughan

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