Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2020

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Developing a world class Scale Up infrastructure


215 high-growth businesses supported

25% growth in sales

c. 350 high growth companies offering work experience to young people

Participating sectors

Creative, digital, film, games & media Life Sciences & Biotech Technology & Communications


Oxfordshire’s ambition is to be a top three global innovation ecosystem by 2040 and its approach is to build on the county’s world-leading science and technology clusters and the intensity of its university spinouts.

Through its Local Industrial Strategy the LEP has pledged to strengthen its commitment to ‘establish a scale up programme to support high growth businesses to expand rapidly’. This builds on a strong foundation of support that has already seen Oxfordshire record the highest annual growth rates in scaleup companies nationally.

Oxfordshire is using a range of partnerships and structures to quickly identify high growth companies and provide a series of wrap around interventions to support them.

ONS data for 2017 shows that there are 480 scaleups in the Oxfordshire LEP: 175 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 395 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 90 are scaleups that are increasing both employment and turnover simultaneously.

The ONS data reflects that across the four-year period from 2014 to 2017 the density of scaleups has increased by 6.35 per 100,000 of population per year, which is above the median of +3.90 per 100,000 of population.

At the workshops, I got a lot from spending time with other businesses, big and small, and took fresh ideas back to the team.
Emma Barnes, Founder, General Products Ltd


Scaleups in Oxfordshire have access to a package of support including the Innovation Support Business programme, eScalate, Oxford Sciences Innovation and the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus cluster development programme.

Innovation Support for Business, and eScalate together form a £10m scaleup programme that provides ‘Go-create’ grants, investment readiness consultancy support coaching and mentoring, workshops, seminars and masterclasses as well as access to equipment, expertise and resources.

Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI) helps Oxford’s scientists build and grow businesses. Investment Principals are assigned to portfolio companies, usually sitting on their Board; companies receive support to: recruit management talent globally; experts and access to investment funds up to £10million, with an average amount invested of £6.2million.

OSI has also created a network of major corporates to invest and help develop companies by advising on strategy, introducing commercial contacts and bolstering management. In addition, OSI has a dedicated property resource to help portfolio companies find the right size property and will guarantee or even lease property on behalf of companies.

The Harwell Cross-Cluster Industrial Engagement Proof of Concept funding grant is targeted at collaborative research and development, with a multidisciplinary remit that encourages industry to engage with other organisations in innovative projects. The grant aims to support and grow new and existing companies through demonstrating the successful application of technologies, applications and processes in new ways.


Local analysis has shown that ‘breakthrough’ sectors in Oxfordshire are growing between 5% and 10% faster annually than their UK counterparts. Through the LEP over 200 high growth businesses have been supported across the range of programmes on offer, showing an average increase in revenue and sales of 25%. Around 350 scaling businesses have taken on young people through work experience with the LEP prioritising increasing access to talent through such schemes in future years.

The Harwell Cross-Cluster initiative has supported 31 projects, with 21 companies collaborating with 29 corporates.


Support for scaleup companies cannot be an isolated policy area. There are a series of interconnected dependencies that successful areas need in order to support high-growth businesses.

Demand is huge – starts in the local programmes has far outstripped planned demand. For example OSI originally envisaged supporting six companies annually, it now supports 24 each year.


OxLEP is planning a refresh of its Scale Up strategy, including an updated ‘mapping’ of the scaleup landscape, programmes and entry criteria as well as current take up of programmes. This will form the basis for future programme development.

Oxfordshire intends to encourage university and business collaboration around scaleup company sectors at all levels.


According to ScaleUp Institute analysis of data received directly from ONS for years 2014-2017, the following picture emerges on the local environment.

Local Authorities located within the Oxfordshire LEP have a high density of scaleups, and the trend between 2014 and 2017 reveals that all of the local authorities showed an increase in the density of scaleup businesses, and almost all showed an above median increase in scaleup density.

Scaleups by Density: Excellent

The vertical axis of this matrix shows where local authorities located in this LEP stand compared to the rest of the UK: 4 of the 5 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and all of the 5 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Excellent

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: 3 of the 5 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 4 of the 5 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.

Page URL: https://www.scaleupinstitute.org.uk/articles/oxfordshire/

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