Skip to content

ScaleUp Index 2020 Round-Up

The ScaleUp Institute recently published the fourth edition of their ScaleUp Index and found that in 2020, 7,474 visible scaleups were recorded, which is a 37% increase year on year. In addition, the total number of female-founded visible scaleups has doubled in a year to 493.

Interestingly, The East of England is home to 9% of these businesses and Yorkshire & Humber home to 7%.

2020 has been a difficult year for businesses globally, but the report suggests that scaleups have shown resilience during the pandemic, with 80% showing indications of moderate-positive impact, and 14% have created jobs. The top three sectors being Business and Professional Services, Industrial and Built Environment and Infrastructure.

Funding and finance are a key factor in their growth, with £5.3bn being invested into scaleups in 2019. In 2019, over £36m of Innovate UK grant funding went to scaleups, with a record average annual grant size of £352,000. To date, Innovate UK grants of £286m leveraged £5.2bn of private sector investment. Scaleups in the Manufacturing sector are top recipients of Innovate UK funding, with Cleantech and Automotive industries emerging as focus areas.

Supporting Scaleups in the East of England

As a dedicated business support provider, Exemplas, alongside St John’s Innovation Centre, delivers Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) in the East of England. As part of this contract, EEN supports scaleups through the Innovate UK Scaleup Programme, which works with a select group of businesses on a journey to exponential growth. EEN Scaleup Director Emma Douglas-Beet emphasises the importance of supporting scaleups as she notes:

“Scaling businesses are imperative to the growth of UK Plc, this is particularly crucial at this time of immense change to the UK economy. We need to do all that we can to help scaling companies to flourish and develop into large companies, that support employment, growth, innovation and most importantly have a positive impact on the UK economy.

Enterprise Europe Network wants to help scaleups, access funding and finance, structure the business for maximum growth, overcome challenges in finding talent, look to other verticals to export, all whilst maintaining great communication with their client base.”

In 2019, EEN worked with Active Food Systems (AFS) who had the potential for disrupting the catering and commercial catering sector world-wide, and an exponential 80% increase in sales. However, when the COVID-19 crisis hit, closing the hospitality industry down, AFS had to turn their attention from growth to surviving. The EEN Scaleup Directors became an important source of advice and support for AFS, ensuring that they were able to survive, stabilise and grow by signposting them towards government funding opportunities and private finance options. The EEN team also worked closely with the Department for International Trade on European export strategies and market engagement plans for AFS.

The support from EEN Scaleup Directors led to a major US distribution deal for Active Food Systems as well as new products and leasing options being put in development.

For more information about The Innovate UK Scaleup Programme contact Enterprise Europe Network. For businesses looking for support with exporting their goods or services overseas, Exemplas also delivers the Department for International Trade in the East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber regions.

Find out more about the work we do in the public sector.


*In this report, visible scaleups are defined as having an annualised growth greater than 20% per annum over a three-year period, with 10 or more employees at the beginning of the observation period. They also must file full accounts with Companies House.