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UK’s 33,955 scale-up businesses – who generate £1.2trn yearly to the UK economy – remain resilient report shows

Despite the headwinds, including concerns about rising costs and supply chain disruption, the UK’s 33,955 scale-up businesses – who generate £1.2tn yearly to the UK economy – representing 50% of the total turnover of the SME economy – remained resilient through the pandemic and are going for growth in 2023.

Although concerned that the UK is becoming a harder environment to scale in, nine in ten of the UK’s scaling companies expect to continue growing in the coming 12 months, with one in five expecting to scale at 50% or more.

These insights are given in the ScaleUp Institute’s 2022 Annual Review, which also recorded a strong scaling pipeline and a 13% increase in the number of ‘visible’ scale-ups to 8,457 – those breaking through the £10.2m turnover barrier or £5.1m assets – 119% increase since these were first tracked in 2017. Albeit the pace of scale-up growth has slowed down overall, meaning the UK cannot be complacent.

Titled ‘Scaling Beyond Frontiers’ – it can be read here – the report included a survey of 338 CEOs of high-growth scaling companies across the UK with a combined turnover of £2.5bn. They are spread across all sectors and around the country and are increasingly diverse – two-fifths of scale-ups surveyed (38%) have a female or ethnic minority founder or CEO.

The survey showed that scale-ups remain forward-looking and ambitious: over 60% want to export more in 2023 and to further afield and over half expect to raise further funds to fuel their growth with the majority planning further innovation in 2023. But, for the third year running, the survey showed that scale-ups regard ease of access to UK and international markets as the single most significant challenge to their scaling plans, followed by access to talent and then finance.

Scale-ups want to see better connections to public and private sector procurement and collaboration opportunities, including innovation and investment vehicles; more dedicated scale-up trade missions, and deeper ties to the education sector both at school and at university level.

In other news, the institute has appointed a new Chair – Margaret Rice-Jones

She comments, “I am delighted to become Chair of the ScaleUp Institute. As we look ahead to the next few years, I particularly want to help to continue to close the gaps around access to markets, talent and finance. These three pillars are critical to scale up business’ ability to continue their growth trajectory.

“Having been involved with scaling businesses in many parts of the UK I know the importance of having a strong local cluster and scale-up support network. The ScaleUp Institute’s role in fostering these is vital, and it is a great privilege to be its new chair. I am very much looking forward to working with Irene and the team.”

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