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Championing the cause of the UK’s scaleups

We recently joined the 2023 ScaleUp Institute Annual Review to hear from high growth business leaders and sector gurus about what more the ecosystem could do to propel growth. Although scaleups are resilient by nature, a combination of supply chain pressures, access to talent, and geopolitical tension have taken their toll. 

This is why it’s so important to keep a constant lookout for more ways we could support them to unlock potential, says Chris Kettle, our Proposition and Engagement Manager. Scaleups are present in every community and every sector, creating jobs as they drive growth. “We have a long tradition of helping innovative businesses at every stage of their lifecycle get to the next level. Scaleups have never been more important to the UK economy and we’re proud to continue working with innovative businesses to find solutions and navigate obstacles.”

Irene Graham, CEO at the ScaleUp Institute, says: “Scaleup businesses remain a key to future UK prosperity – now equal to 58% of UK SME output at £1.3trn despite only accounting for 0.5% of the business population. Despite the domestic and global challenges, they remain optimistic about their growth outlook, with nine in 10 expecting to grow next year, and a further one in five expecting this growth to be above 50%.”

As we assess the horizon for 2024, here’s a selection of practical insights and inspiration we took away from innovative UK businesses including MatillionGlaxoSmithKlineWPPHiro Capital, and the London Stock Exchange.

Connect on access to finance

Finance is an important aspect of any company’s journey and tax initiatives such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme continue to play a role in boosting confidence to invest. Efficient access to capital means businesses that have identified a demand and have proof of concept can start, grow, scale and create jobs for generations to come. Look out for more information on the Chancellor’s Mansion House Reforms , which could unlock up to £75bn of additional investment  from defined contribution and local government pensions for high growth businesses.

Act collectively to harness potential

Continue to foster university collaboration with scaleups, says the ScaleUp Institute, and consider building wider engagement with scaling firms in your region. Take life sciences as an example. The sector is one of the UK’s most dynamic, collaborative, and forward-thinking, bursting with innovation and creativity. What more could be done to drive momentum for scaleups here? Today’s transformational technology could help founders in life science clusters utilise data and research to drive growth, add value and build influence.

Protect your intellectual property

The UK games industry contributed an estimated £2.8bn to the economy in 2019 and is the largest in Europe. A successful videogames entrepreneur turned venture capital investor told us the next generation of games entrepreneurs must know how to protect their work. Founders who understand the value of their intellectual property and how to hang on to it could mean more blockbuster games stay in the UK rather than become owned overseas.

Celebrate success and learn from failure

Scaleups are significant UK employers and understand their role in equipping young people with the skills they need today and for the future. But what about building a high-performance leadership team? A panel discussion talked about improving encouragement and support networks for scaleups, plus celebrating the pursuit of success. But to also take a leaf out of the US entrepreneur playbook and tell the story of failure too – dusting yourself off and going again. Check out our Business Show podcast for some great examples of business owners talking about this.

Artificial intelligence could transform business

Scaleups remain at the forefront of tech adoption, says the ScaleUp Annual Review. Artificial intelligence, 5G, the Internet of Things, and big data are some of the tech skills scaleups are leveraging. We heard how AI is already helping businesses improve efficiency, customer experience and even creative ideation. But although AI combined with human ingenuity has the potential to revolutionise business, five in 10 scaleup leaders think it should be regulated by an independent global entity.

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