Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2020

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Tees Valley Combined Authority

Working with University Experts to support CEOs with strong ambitions


LEAP50: 23 scaleup businesses supported

Participating sectors

Creative, digital, film, games & media Finance Food & drink Technology & Communications


The strong partnership between Tees Valley Combined Authority and Teesside University continues to be a force for driving forward economic regeneration in the region, through a targeted approach to key regional priorities.

The University’s strengths in research, knowledge exchange and education across a range of disciplines have been leveraged to work with the Authority and its data intelligence, and regional networks to support scaling businesses and develop a strategic approach that responds to local priorities.

ONS data for 2017 shows that there are 255 scaleups in the Tees Valley LEP: 90 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 215 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 50 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 1.38 per 100,000 of population per year, which is below the median of +3.90 per 100,000 of population.


The University-LEP partnership developed the LEAP 50 programme following engagement with the ScaleUp Institute. It is designed to equip CEOs of regional businesses with the required knowledge, experiences and personal development to accelerate their business growth. A second cohort of 12 companies has now started on the programme which begins with begins with a two-day residential followed by 12 one-day workshops.Participants receive support and training from experienced professionals with track records of working with and developing high-growth scalable businesses. Peer-to-peer learning is another significant element.

Digital City continues to drive digital innovation and growth across the Tees Valley through its tailored portfolio and connecting businesses with the knowledge, skills and expertise they need to thrive in a digital future. The three-month Digital City SCALE programme built around action-focused workshops and supported by a dedicated business mentor, was featured in Tech Nation’s 2018 report, which highlighted Middlesbrough as a key player in the tech industry. As a follow up to this programme, the Investor Readiness Programme including seminars and practical activities was launched to help senior leaders make their businesses and innovations attractive to investors.

A new initiative, ‘Grow Tees Valley’ was recently launched at Tees Valley Venturefest. It will work with businesses looking to improve or develop a product, embed a new service within their company, or enter new markets.


Leap 50 has boosted the strategic growth and the economic prosperity of participating by helping them to introduce strategy, growth and competitive advantage models. Companies involved highlighted their scope to expand in new markets and improvement in their business strategies, financial and HR management, staff morale and decision making after implementing the insights gained through LEAP 50.

Since its launch DigitalCity has worked with more than 650 core digital and creative businesses. Middlesbrough is showing healthy growth in digital tech jobs by 19.5% to nearly 7,200 in 2016-17, with a total business turnover of just under £190 million. Digital GVA has increased locally by 44% from £211m to £304m.


Participant feedback after the first LEAP 50 programme has led to more focus on innovation and leadership in the content. Early comments from the second cohort on these changes are positive in these areas.

Some individual feedback has proved to be sector specific, which has stimulated conversations about the benefits of tailoring the programme to key industries.


The Combined Authority is now considering support for the Tees Valley Local Industrial Strategy by tailoring future LEAP 50 cohorts to key regional industries with more focussed material and bespoke sessions.


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 Tees Valley LEP have a low density of scaleups, and the trend between 2014 and 2017 reveals that the majority of the local authorities showed an increase in the density of scaleup businesses, but only one showed an above median increase in scaleup density.

Scaleups by Density: Needs Improvement

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 a below median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 4 of the 5 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Needs Improvement

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

LEAP 50 places companies at the heart of an experience designed to accelerate business growth and contribute to the economic ecosystem of the Tees Valley. The University has given us two very clear wins – and two of the best collaboration projects with a university that we ever had. Our company has gone from what was a laboratory curiosity to designing and developing a manufacturing unit capable of developing up to 1,400 tonnes of product a year.

Dai Hayward, CEO

Micropore Technologies

Page URL: https://www.scaleupinstitute.org.uk/articles/tees-valley-combined-authority/

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