Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2021

Select a section to expand and explore this year's review.

Heart of the South West


460+ scaleups supported since 2016

457 referrals made to a range of services including 23 to funding or finance partners

130 new jobs created in the last 12 months

£22m increase in revenues since last year (18% avg growth)

Almost £7m in finance raised by participating businesses in the last year

73% identified new markets

Participating sectors

Creative, digital, film, games & media


Heart of the South West published its Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) in November 2020 alongside its plan to Build Back Better. The ambition is to create a more resilient, stronger and more prosperous region. The LEP also continues its focus on partnerships for growth, continuing its collaboration with Inspire to build on what works following the successful programme in Swindon and Wiltshire. 

The LIS recognises support delivered through the Growth Hub as the most effective mechanism for reaching SMEs and developing their potential to become the engine that will drive the region’s economic growth. This approach is complemented by the Build Back Better recovery plan supporting business growth. 

ONS data for 2019 shows that there are 740 scaleups in the Heart of the South West LEP: 300 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 590 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 150 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 -2.22 per 100,000 of population per year.


The Inspire Elite programme offers scaling businesses access to networking, training and one-to-one advice and mentoring support. Further support for participants is available through a virtual board. This allows companies to accelerate growth by consulting highly experienced, successful non-executive directors (NEDs) through a programme of quarterly one-to-ones. One result has been the acceleration of the level at which the participants are then fully engaging NEDs and mentors as the Virtual Board provides an opportunity to test out the proposition before commiting. Following participation in the programme Inspire Elite offers tailored referrals to other established growth programmes including the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK. The Inspire Elite programme has been identified as One to Watch by the ScaleUp Institute for its focus on supporting local scaleups and we will watch the impact of this programme closely.

A range of additional public and private programmes operate in the South West – find out more on the scaleup support finder here.


Since 2016, over 460 scaling businesses have engaged with the Inspire programme in the LEP with 81 helped in the last 12 months . Each has had a full diagnostic assessment and then been referred to the relevant expertise. Most are now engaged with the LEP’s NED mentoring programme and ten have taken on NEDs in their business. The support provided through Inspire has strengthened business resilience to the extent that only one of the cohort became a casualty of the pandemic.


In order to boost the pipeline of scaleups in the local area and identify future participants for the Inspire Elite programme, a new Knowledge Accelerator programme was launched in May 2021 to respond to learnings that pre-scaling business leaders were still struggling to define their strategy for growth in writing.


Scaleup Awards was launched October to recognise innovative scaleups or those that have pivoted to meet new challenges or consumer trends and preferences. This may be in response to Covid-19, to challenges such as obstructions to supply chains or in response to the green agenda and the move towards net zero.


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 Heart of the South West LEP have a moderate-low 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, 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: 9 of the 14 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 7 of the 14 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: 8 of the 14 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 7 of the 14 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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