Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2020

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A focussed programme to help lift the barriers for scaling companies


217 companies enrolled on the Upscaler programme

111 companies have accessed training and workshop support

37 graduates placed with Upscaler businesses

2,150 hours of support delivered

Participating sectors

Creative, digital, film, games & media Defence & security Engineering / Advanced Engineering Finance Food & drink Life Sciences & Biotech Manufacturing / Advanced Manufacturing Professional services Technology & Communications Transport & Logistics


D2N2 established UpScaler with Nottingham Trent University’s Business School after attending the ScaleUp Institute’s Driving Economic Growth and realising the potential of a specially focussed programme for fast growing businesses. The course has now successfully supported 217 SMEs with a combined annual turnover of £415million and employing more than 3,300 employees.

The DEG experience also highlighted the importance of creating a supportive ecosystem. This has encouraged greater collaboration between the LEP and stakeholders, including the East Midlands Chamber, the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, DIT and Enterprise Europe Network.

ONS data for 2018 shows that there are 940 scaleups in the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire LEP: 395 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 740 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 195 are scaleups that are increasing both employment and turnover simultaneously.

The ONS data reflects that across the four-year period from 2015 to 2018 the density of scaleups has increased by 0.01 per 100,000 of population per year, which is below the median of +0.68 per 100,000 of population.


Businesses joining UpScaler start with a diagnostic from one of two specialist business advisers. Participants are then signposted towards a range of activities, including a leadership and management development programme targeting priorities, such as strategic and team development, leadership financial management and access to new markets. They also receive a monthly invitation to UpScaler Forums which provide opportunities to learn from peers.

It has proved very effective with an increase in the number of scaleups and ambitious-to- scale SMEs joining. Recent initiatives include the introduction of a Breakthrough Programme which has attracted a more diverse group who want to participate in a “light” version of the diagnostic and support activities. This programme has increased participation among female and BAME entrepreneurs.

In response to the Covid crisis all UpScaler activity continued online, starting with an initial lockdown series of short interactive virtual workshops and forums. UpScaler focused on more strategic, forward-looking support to encourage scaleup and ambitious high potential growth leaders to spend time planning strategically for rebuilding, repositioning and recovery. 

Businesses have also been given earlier access to a grant package to support both Lockdown and Breakthrough programmes and facilitate wider access to coaching. Spin out scaleup support activity has been led by East Midlands Chamber, including Digital UpScaler funded by ERDF.


UpScaler has received high levels of satisfaction. At the end of the first round of Strategic Leader workshops an average of 95% participants said they had taken away ideas to implement in their business from each session; 90% felt that the level of support was appropriate to their scaleup needs. 


Upscaler was funded by ERDF monies but with that now being curtailed is reviewing alternate funding sources. The LEP is using learnings from the programme to influence other offerings such as Big House, which supports creative and digital industry SMEs, the Big House Accelerator for high potential start-ups and the BEIS-funded Small Business Leadership Programme led by the Chartered Association of Business Schools.

Upscaler has provided a platform of knowledge and support that has informed our thinking and actions.  Having taken the right decisions for the right reasons we found ourselves prepared when the current crisis arrived, and we have worked on and through pretty much unaffected.
Mike Rose, MD of P. Ducker Systems Ltd.

Being part of UpScaler has encouraged us to raise the bar and adopt new techniques… It’s changed the way we think, we’re far more strategic in what we do.
David Pickles, Co-director of Paintman Paints Ltd.


According to ScaleUp Institute analysis of data received directly from ONS for years 2015-2018, the following picture emerges on the local environment.

Local Authorities located within the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire LEP have a moderate-low density of scaleups, and the trend between 2015 and 2018 reveals that some of the local authorities showed an increase in the density of scaleup businesses, and some showed an above median increase in scaleup density.

Scaleups by Density: Mixed

The vertical axis of this matrix shows where local authorities located in this LEP stand compared to the rest of the UK: 10 of the 17 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 10 of the 17 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Mixed

The horizontal axis of this matrix shows whether the density of scaleups has increased or decreased over time relative to the rest of the UK: 9 of the 17 local authorities are below the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 9 of the 17 local authorities are above the median for scaleups by turnover.

The ScaleUp Institute will continue to monitor this closely in the coming years to track whether local initiatives move the dial in the right direction for increasing the density of scaleups.

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