Business management

New research from the ScaleUp Institute lights the way for scale-up businesses

Driving the UK’s innovation and employing millions of workers, the nation’s scale-up businesses need help to maintain growth.

Nine in 10 scale-ups still expect to grow in 2023, despite the headwinds of macro-economic conditions, increasing costs, the legacy of Brexit and supply chain delays, according to the findings of the ScaleUp Institute's Annual Survey.

It is testament to the resilience, focus and ambitious mindset of our scale-up leaders, says ScaleUp Institute CEO Irene Graham OBE.

As we head into 2023, the research identifies five key areas where scale-ups need support:

  1. Access to markets, both domestic and international 
  2. Finding employees with the skills businesses need
  3. Securing suitable finance for growth
  4. Navigating infrastructure and access to R&D facilities
  5. Building leadership capacity

What scale-ups mean to the UK economy

With nearly 34,000 scale-ups in the UK outstripping GDP growth by some 23%, research suggests that, on average, these businesses are 42% more productive and employ approximately 3.1 million people. The new research also found that:

Scale-ups are innovative: Three in four have introduced or improved a product/service/process in the last three years, twice the rate of large firms, and they are significant adopters of new technologies. 

Scale-ups are good corporate citizens: Over half are social businesses, operating in the green economy or meeting ESG goals. They tend to employ twice as many apprentices as other firms. 

Scale-ups trade internationally: Six in 10 scale-ups trade across borders, and emerging markets are a focus for further growth. 

If we are to see ambitious companies growing across sectors, geographies and boundaries, we must act collectively and champion the cause of our scale-ups

Irene Graham
CEO, ScaleUp Institute

A new plan for success

To help scale-ups reach their potential, the Institute  has outlined a new  plan aimed at three broad goals:

  1. Aligning policies resources and policies towards scaleups at a national and local level
  2. Opening up market access for scaleups both at home and abroad
  3. Unlocking growth capital to drive growth

Irene concludes: “If we are to see ambitious companies growing across sectors, geographies and boundaries – and by doing so advance our international competitiveness – we must act collectively and champion the cause of our scale-ups, engage with them to support their routes to markets, innovation and talent, and ensure all our resources are aligned to their needs and enable their scaling beyond frontiers.” 

Download a copy of Scaling Beyond Frontiers: Scaleup Annual Review 2022.

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