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9 November, 2015 - 12:50 By Tony Quested

British scale-ups demand centre stage

Sherry Coutu at the Business Weekly Awards judging in February 2015

UK startups are demanding a bigger share of the business limelight and greater exposure would not only speed their global scale-up but also boost the economy, entrepreneur Sherry Coutu believes.

Addressing today’s Innovate 2015 conference, hosted by Innovate UK and UKTI, Coutu released data showing that over 90 per cent of scale-ups in Britain want their details more readily shared across public and private sectors to more easily attract essential support to continue their expansion.

She shared inside track information from the Scale-Up Institute’s latest survey. Chair of the Institute, Coutu said that the UK boasted some of the world’s most innovative companies. If more steps were taken to highlight these businesses their growth could be further supported.

The data she revealed coincided with Innovate UK’s promotion of a five-point plan, which has been developed to focus its efforts on targeting more scale-ups and creating an ecosystem of support for growing businesses.

Coutu said: “Our data shows a continuing need for more recognition of fast growth businesses in the UK and it is appropriate to be releasing these findings as Innovate UK commits to an increased focus on fostering the growth of scale-ups.

“It is essential that we take steps to allow the sharing of information about our scale-up companies, so that we can shine a spotlight on them and help them overcome the challenges to support their continuing growth.”

CEO of Innovate UK, Ruth McKernan, who formerly headed up Pfizer in Cambridge, added: “Small businesses are the engine room of the UK economy. Economic growth and enhanced productivity can be achieved by scaling up those small businesses to create the new jobs and industries of tomorrow. 

“Innovate UK welcomes Sherry Coutu to Innovate 2015 as an important ally in our mission to make the UK the best place in the world to innovate. The work of the Scale-Up Institute offers insights as we head towards making the UK a centre of excellence and home for high value jobs across all sectors of our economy.”

The Scale-Up Institute’s survey has also revealed the top three barriers to growth for British scale-ups:-

  • Building leadership capacity when growing fast
  • Easy access to talent and the right skill sets from schools and graduate leavers as well as overseas
  • Attracting large corporate companies as customers both at home and abroad

Coutu said: “If the details of our growing companies are shared by the Government, both internally and externally, we will start to see these concerns addressed.

“The Five Point Plan we have seen from Innovate UK acknowledges that support for scale-ups is essential for economic growth in Britain and we anticipate that this plan will help close the Scale-Up gap.”

A scale-up company is categorised as growing more than 20 per cent p.a. and having more than 10 full time employees. The Scale-Up Survey comes a year on from the release of the government-initiated Scale-Up report and will be used by the Scale-Up Institute to inform its work to close the scale-up gap.

Both Innovate UK and the Scale-Up Institute are focused on closing the scale-up gap. As outlined in the Scale-Up Report, if this gap is to close it will secure significant economic value and the competitive advantage of Britain for years to come. Benefits would include:-

  • In the short term, an additional 238,000 jobs and £38 billion additional turnover within three years of reversing the scale-up gap
  • In the medium term, a possible boost of £96 billion p.a. to the UK economy
  • In the long term, a potential of £225 billion additional GVA and 150,000 net jobs by 2034.

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