Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2020

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The Marches

Prioritising Rural Scaleup Sectors and Combining LEP Cluster Networks


164 scaleups supported

>400 jobs created

7 collaborative research projects

Participating sectors

Environmental Science & Technology Farming, fisheries & forestry Finance Food & drink


The Marches LEP covers a very large area – much of it rural – with a significant number of small and medium enterprises, many of which are yet to reach scaleup. To overcome the challenges of its environment it has built strategic partnerships with neighbouring LEPs and working links with industry representative bodies, three universities and business network groups.

Support is packaged into specific campaigns to reach priority sectors in cluster networks in particular those involving cyber security and agri-tech, and the LEP prioritises communication to engage potential high-growth businesses.

ONS data for 2017 shows that there are 345 scaleups in the Marches LEP: 130 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 280 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 65 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 5.31 per 100,000 of population per year, which is above the median of +3.90 per 100,000 of population.

The Manufacturing Growth Programme has been fantastic for accessing funding, which has allowed us to work with experts in business management. This has enabled us to put a series of measures in place that support the growth and sustainability of our company.
Dr Dave Staton, Managing Director, Motor Design


Many of the LEP’s programmes are delivered in partnership with other organisations.

The LEP is a major partner in the Midlands Engine whose Investment Fund which offers a suite of business loans to growing companies across the Marches. The Agri Tech West Partnership set up by the LEP and three neighbouring areas supports scaleups in the food processing, packaging and manufacturing sectors. The Business Growth Programme Phase 2 – managed by Birmingham City Council – offers grants of £2,500 – £1,000,000 to strengthen supply chains, stimulate innovation and help businesses grow. Manufacturing Growth Programme delivers support across 15 LEP areas, helping businesses make improvements by identifying, understanding and removing their barriers to growth. Support is tailored to the manufacturing business and includes a dedicated, experienced manufacturing growth manager giving on-going support and advice on opportunities as well as access to a diagnostic tool.

Region-specific, the Centre for Research into Environmental Science and Technology (CREST) based at University Centre Shrewsbury focuses on innovation and research support to local environmental science and technology businesses. The project helps them to develop and test new products, processes or services and includes research collaborations and bringing products to market. Businesses are offered lab facilities on site, masterclasses and workshops.

The Marches is also working to increase corporate collaboration and access to finance. In February 2019 MGH Shropshire delivered a procurement event Forging Links with your Local Supply Chain involving exhibitors from the highways, maintenance and construction industry. Over 50 visiting businesses received advice and information about how they can develop links with larger contractors and public sector organisations and win business within these sectors, this included the opportunity to meet procurement teams.

The LEP delivered a number of Access to Finance events aimed at banks, professional services advisers to small businesses, and alternative finance providers in the Marches area.

Internally, we didn’t have the right expertise to [manage our growth], so we decided to turn to support from BEEP and then the MGP. This approach gave us a framework and support for an in-depth analysis of the environmental opportunity that we knew we had, but simply didn’t have the resource or knowledge to carry out whilst still trying to keep on top of day-to-day priorities. Five new jobs have been created, taking our total workforce to 35 highly skilled staff.
Peter Grant, managing director, Hitherbest


In 2018-19 The Marches supported over 350 businesses with high and medium intensity support, including account managment, diagnostic and brokerage services. This included 164 scaleups and scaling businesses.

The Marches Growth Hub is the gateway to 20 EU-funded business support projects. The four largest ERDF schemes awarded a combined £2.8m to Marches businesses between April 2018 and March 2019. In addition, the RDPE Growth Programme awarded £2.5m to Marches businesses during the same period. The investment will lead to the anticipated creation of 175 jobs.

The ERDF SME International Growth Project provides complimentary, additional support to enhance the DIT Core contract, offering grants to businesses in the Marches. From April 2018 to March 2019 this project provided grants to 12 businesses committing £33,500 of funding to support their Internationalisation aspirations and promising the creation of 17 new jobs.

Through CREST 33 businesses have received innovation support or have been assisted with expert research. As a result 7 collaborative research projects have been established, with a potential 17 more.

Between 1 April to 31 March 2019, 46 Business Growth Programme grants were made totalling over £1million which will help to create 121 jobs. The Manufacturing Growth Programme has delivered 134 grants with 109 jobs created.


Additional skills within the Growth Hub’s team has allowed for improvements to be made with data collection and reporting and outreach/engagement with businesses to help raise the profile of growth programmes locally and support outreach activity. Data collection has previously been a challenge but improvements have been implemented to enable the hub to report on the impact of its programmes more effectively in the future.


The LEP has established an Access to Finance Group with the aim of working towards a LEP Access to Finance strategy to help increase awareness of local support and to ensure the Growth Hub is adequately supported to build capacity and capability around this area of work.

Our aspiration was to grow the business both domestically and internationally; however, to do so, we needed to invest heavily in our own manufacturing capability. Securing a loan through the Midlands Engine Investment Fund was crucial in making this happen.
Tim Hughes, Managing Director, Motiv Trailers Limited


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 Marches LEP have a moderate 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 all 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: 2 of the 3 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and all of the 3 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Good

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: 2 of the 3 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 2 of the 3 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/the-marches/

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