Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are now seven years old. At the recent national LEP Network conference, Secretary of State for Local Government Sajid Javid was emphatic about their importance on the new path that the UK is now taking.
He highlighted their ability to consistently adapt because they are driven by local businesses and local needs, and so can constantly evolve to meet challenges as they arise. He also acknowledged their ability to bring both public and private sectors together, which will be key to future economic success across the whole country.
We know that scaleups are keen to get support at a local level that can address their particular barriers to growth, so we view LEPs as being at the heart of the scaleup agenda. They can help stimulate and drive economic growth by building supportive entrepreneurial ecosystems.
That is why the ScaleUp Institute has put so much resource into working with LEPs, Growth Hubs and local business schools as part of our Driving Economic Growth Programme, which was supported by Goldman Sachs and Innovate UK. By focusing on the core challenges that face UK high-growth businesses seeking to scale, the programme has enabled LEP stakeholders to identify practical measures and techniques to address these challenges and apply these steps to their local business environment.
We were delighted that Charlotte Keenan from Goldman Sachs, the founding partner of the ScaleUp Institute, was invited to talk at the national LEP Network conference about the course – and the results that have flowed from it so far. She described some of the initiatives being led by LEPs across the UK to support scaleups.
- In Manchester, the LEP has launched “Greater Connected”, a growth programme for leaders of digital, creative and technological small businesses looking to explore new markets.
- In the North-East, the LEP has been working with Entrepreneurs Forum’s “Leadership Academy” to build scale up leadership capacity.
- In Oxfordshire, a dedicated support team has been established to provide business advice to scaleups.
- And in the Tees Valley, two programs have been established to address the talent and leadership gaps specifically in scaleup businesses.
At a different conference but in similar vein, Irene Graham, CEO of the ScaleUp Institute, was able to point to tangible progress being made by the SE Midlands LEP (SEMLEP), which now scores in the upper quartile of all LEPs for scaleup growth and a ScaleUp Advisor will be appointed from April 2017 to build a programme of networking breakfasts to develop peer-to-peer learning groups.
On the skills front, it was interesting to hear Claudia Harris, CEO of the Careers and Enterprise Company, discuss at the LEP Network conference about the issue of inconsistent coverage, with schools and employers working to different timetables and using different language.
Sherry Coutu, founder of Founders4Schools emphasised the need for real, practical skills development in local areas to make sure that businesses looking to scale up have a strong supply chain of talent – and that school leavers are fully equipped for the jobs that are available in their local area.
The strength and value of having public and private sectors working together and really “leaning in” to support the growth needs of our fastest scaling businesses is being displayed around the country. The LEPs and Growth Hubs are key players in making the UK the best place in the world to scale up a business.