Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2020

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Leeds City Region

Entrepreneurial and corporate ecosystems combining for scaleups


350 businesses supported through the Strategic Business Growth Programme

949 jobs created across the wider Leeds City Region

£90.85m GVA

Participating sectors

Creative, digital, film, games & media Engineering / Advanced Engineering Manufacturing / Advanced Manufacturing Professional services


Leeds City Region continues to recognise the importance of developing a sustainable ecosystem to support scaling following our participation in the ScaleUp Institute’s Driving Economic Growth through ScaleUp Ecostems course.  In 2020 it established MIT Reap which is by a regional partnership of public and private sector organisations.  The organisation’s aim is to establish a support ecosystem to facilitate start-up to scaleup across the City Region using accelerator programmes, mentoring, on-line support community and access to finance.

As described below, the LEP delivers two tailored programmes for scaling businesses:  The Strategic Business Growth Programme and the AD:VENTURE programme, as well as a manufacturing programme targeting high-potential firms in that sector. 

The LEP also runs a bi-monthly Professional Perspective Network meeting. One of the network’s objectives is to raise awareness of the LEP, its partners and the products they offer among the private sector.

ONS data for 2018 shows that there are 1,495 scaleups in the Leeds City Region LEP: 625 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 1,205 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 335 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 1.25 per 100,000 of population per year, which is above the median of +0.68 per 100,000 of population.


The LEP delivers two tailored programmes for scaling businesses and has worked with the University of Huddersfield on a programme to help small manufacturing businesses with scaleup potential.

The Strategic Business Growth Programme provides one-to-one guidance, financial support towards capital investment that will accelerate growth, and specialist workshops. Its support has been extended until 2023. The AD:VENTURE programme which will also run until 2023 comprises an integrated package of advisory and financial support. 

The University of Huddersfield’s three-year programme provides a blended package of bespoke and intensive support (mentoring, coaching, technology adoption, peer-to-peer learning, leadership & management, and grant finance).  It is aimed at manufacturing businesses that can demonstrate the ambition, resources and knowhow to achieve significant growth in terms of turnover and employment.

During the pandemic supply chain experts from the University of Huddersfield have provided help to businesses to get more out of their supplier arrangements, including introducing new supply chain models to reduce risk and enhance quality.


A total of 350 businesses have been supported through the current Strategic Business Growth Programme (with delivery ending 31 December 2020) and over 820 new jobs created. 


European funding of £1.6 million was secured in March to extend the Strategic Business Growth Programme for a further three years. The extended programme aims to support 500 scaling businesses. 

A large proportion of the growth in the past 12 months is attributable to the programme, it has allowed the business to flourish. The techniques and information from the workshops and one to one support has all been transferable and helped the business to expand. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the programme.
Wakefield based facilities management business

As a business we had initially grown past our plan – we were outgrowing our infrastructure and admin. Our coach helped to identify that, gave us an indication of the next steps and how to achieve them.
Leeds based engineering business. 


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 Leeds City Region LEP have a moderate density of scaleups, and the trend between 2015 and 2018 reveals that most 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: Moderate

The vertical axis of this matrix shows where local authorities located in this LEP stand compared to the rest of the UK: 5 of the 10 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 6 of the 10 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Moderate

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: 6 of the 10 local authorities are below the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 7 of the 10 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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