Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2021

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Greater Manchester



£52m increase in turnover & 72 jobs created in Global Scale-up Businesses

71 new markets entered

Over £26m funding raised by participants across Manchester’s programmes

Participating sectors

Creative, digital, film, games & media Finance Healthcare Life Sciences & Biotech Manufacturing / Advanced Manufacturing Professional services


Greater Manchester is continuing to focus support on key growth sectors for the region, spanning digital, creative, technological and life science scaleups. The local approach is based on proven interventions and works with private and public sector partners to deliver for fast-growing businesses in different stages of development.

Global Scale-up (GSU) – a fully funded public/private collaboration between The Growth Company and KPMG, Santander, DWF and Manchester Airport – continues to see strong progress and is now into its fourth cohort. The programme now has an extensive network of overseas public and private sector partners including the Mayor’s International Business Programme to help drive the overseas expansion of Greater Manchester scaleups.

ONS data for 2019 shows that there are 1,345 scaleups in the Greater Manchester LEP: 555 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 1,095 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 305 are scaleups that are increasing both employment and turnover simultaneously.

The ONS data reflects that across the four-year period from 2016 to 2019 the density of scaleups has decreased by -2.04 per 100,000 of population per year.


Scaleups across the Greater Manchester region draw on a range of programmes, many of which provide carefully targeted support for different sectors. 

  • Global Scale-up is an internationalisation programme, launched in 2019, that takes high growth businesses across a range of sectors through a four-stage process (Onboarding, International Growth Sprints, Bootcamps, International Visit) to increase their global footprint. Each business is assigned a dedicated account manager. In 2021 the programme was recognised as ‘One to Watch’ by the ScaleUp Institute for its increasing evidence of support to break down the barriers faced by scaleups entering international markets.
  • Creative Scale-up programme is a sector specific scaleup programme funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It aims to help businesses within the creative industries in Greater Manchester, become investment ready and access finance along with support to scale even further. In collaboration with the ScaleUp Institute and UKBAA the programme has developed a new investor knowledge pack and bespoke tools for potential investors, Invest In Creative
  • Recipe4Success is a package of support specifically tailored to earlier-stage SMEs with growth potential in the food and drink industry. It is designed to help businesses diversify and create more channels, building on the rise of localism and restaurant ‘experiences’. The programme has responded to the need for innovation in the industry by including new topics such as Future Trends.
  • STEP INto Healthcare is another sector specific programme that helps businesses in the life sciences sector with aspirations to scale up. The programme provides access to networks, strategic knowledge and market opportunities, through one-to-one support and a number of workshops with leading industry experts.

Other local programmes also help local businesses achieve rapid growth including Exceed – a nine-month programme building designed to help businesses with 10+ staff in the digital, creative and tech sectors develop their growth strategies. The programme builds on the previous sector focused activity, Greater Connected. Exceed has now supported 28 businesses, creating new £1.2m revenue as well as new jobs. 

There are also a range of public and private programmes in the North West – find out more on the scaleup support finder here.


The Global Scale-up programme to date, has helped 80 scaling businesses. Participating scaleups have seen an increase of £52m in turnover, entered 71 new markets and received 494 referrals to access further support. 22 participants raised £25m in funding and 14 of them have created 72 new jobs. 

Recipe4Success has supported 29 businesses in the most recent cohort, resulting in 11 jobs so far, while the new Business on the Go programme has supported ten businesses, creating seven jobs. Results from these programmes continue to come through. STEP INto Healthcare has supported more than 50 companies through six cohorts since Jan 2020 with most participating companies going on to pitch to Greater Manchester NHS procurement teams. 


Global Scale-up is working closely with the Mayor’s International Business Programme to create more opportunities for Greater Manchester scale ups with further collaboration planned. This will build on recent initiatives such as a joint mission to North America focusing on Black, Asian and mixed ethnic background B2B tech founders. 

Exceed has been adapted to help businesses tackle the current challenges and to position themselves to bounce back into growth. The Creative Scale-up programme is recruiting for its fourth cohort and a Creative Leaders Festival is planned for 2022. The programme is also looking at a trade mission to encourage exports. STEP INto Healthcare programme is currently delivering cohort eighteen with a further cohort planned before the programme ends in December 2021.We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience on the Global Scale-up programme. The bootcamps have been brilliant ways to get market information in a concise and distilled way – directly with people on the ground in those markets – and the wider training and support has been critical to our planning and strategy setting. We’re now up to users in 32 countries, and with a much clearer path to sustained international growth thanks to the Global Scale-up programme!
Amy Whitell, Collctiv 

There have been many benefits of taking part in the Global Scale-up Programme – the networking with other businesses, sharing challenges and successes and learning from each other, looking at new techniques to drive forward our team such as the Global Scale-up Sprint… For every challenge that we have faced they have given advice or looked at their field of contacts for those that can help us on our journey. From this we have been able to change the way we are operating and really start to gain much greater traction.
Claire Watkin, Trendsetter 

Due to the support from the Creative Scale-up initiative, I was successfully able to raise an additional £110,000 in funding for my business during the Scale Up timeframe, and I can attribute this directly to the support of this programme as it gave me the commercial acumen and business nuance to be able to successfully pitch and close this round of funding.
Rishi Kapoor, Founder & CEO, Paus


According to ScaleUp Institute analysis of data received directly from ONS for years 2016-2019, the following picture emerges on the local environment.

Local Authorities located within the Greater Manchester LEP have a moderate density of scaleups, and the trend between 2016 and 2019 reveals that few of the local authorities showed an increase in the density of scaleup businesses, but few 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 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: 5 of the 10 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 8 of the 10 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.

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