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The sweet spot for scaleups

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According to the 2018 Scaleup Review, there are more scaleup companies than ever that have had support from Innovate UK to grow and scale through innovation.

 Scaleups more likely to be innovative

Evidence from the ScaleUp Institute shows that scaleups are much more likely than other firms to be innovative. Nearly 80% of scaleups in their survey said they have introduced a new or significantly improved product/process/service in the last three years. In the UK Innovation Survey 2017, only 30% of all firms made that claim.

And we know there is a sweet spot where innovative companies with the highest growth potential and ambition to internationalise can be the scaleup companies of the future.

Through our funding, our business network support and Catapults, we can help those companies to realise their potential.

Business person springing forward off a giant spring, city background

Scaling up for scaleups

Working with the ScaleUp Institute (SUI) gives us greater insight into the needs and opportunities of scaleup companies, and an understanding of the complementary public and private sector offers available to these businesses.

For example, their recent mapping of scaleup initiatives is helping us understand where the gaps are, and what value we can add through our innovation and commercialisation expertise, at the UK wide level.

2018 ScaleUp review

This year’s event gave a very positive view of a vibrant UK scaleup ecosystem, and associated report shows that there is an ever increasing number of businesses that are scaling in the UK.

It was also encouraging to see the number of initiatives and programmes around the country that now offer dedicated scaleup support, or at least include strong elements of scale-up focussed activities.

This is due in no small part to the SUI's leadership in running the Driving Economic Growth through Scaleup programme that has now been attended by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and enterprise organisations all over the country, including us.

Business person encouraging another business person who is running up stairs which are drawn in chalk against a city background

Our role in supporting scaleups

We will continue to fund the most innovative ideas, of course, but we will put a stronger focus on businesses with the highest potential to scale. We will help them to identify and overcome barriers as well as exploit opportunities, understanding where they are in their innovation journey, what do they need and when, and how we can help.

Our lead in the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (and close relation to EEN in Scotland), has enabled us to provide targeted support to innovative companies from across the UK.

In particular, the network of business growth and innovation experts in EEN support the businesses that win Innovate UK funding, connecting them to resources, follow-on funding and other growth expertise around the UK and internationally.

The right finance at the right time

We have also been piloting our Innovation Loans and Investment Accelerator programmes, which bring private sector due diligence on business excellence alongside our own expertise on innovation excellence.

Innovation Loans enable companies to push their ideas further towards commercialisation. There has been a flood of interest and applications in the 3 initial rounds of this programme, giving us high confidence that there is an appetite for innovation funding of this type.

The Investment Accelerator programme creates an invaluable link to the investment community for exciting early stage businesses, increasing the likelihood of follow-on investment vital to growth.

Giant arrows going upwards into a blue sky with business people in suits jumping on the arrow

Pushing this to the next level

In the last year the Innovate UK EEN team has been running a scale-up pilot programme, has been trialing a new approach to really supercharge the growth of 30 of the most innovative and exciting companies in the UK.

We have brought together a team of eight scale-up directors, operating as a board to provide a matrix of experience and connectivity. The best fit director is assigned as a single point of contact to each of the carefully selected businesses, drawing upon the collective resources of the whole board to provide a comprehensive all round tailored package.

We'll be carrying out a full evaluation of this approach and will report back soon on the impact this has had.

So overall, this year's Scaleup Review shows that the UK has a lot to be proud of, and a lot we can all do to realise this potential.


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