Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2022

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Cornwall & Isles of Scilly


64% of Future Focus participants have shown more than 20% turnover increase

24% of Future Focus past participants have accessed new markets

£40m equity and debt finance invested by the CIOSIF

£40.2m private capital invested along with CIOSIF


Simplifying the support landscape to allow scaling business easy and timely access to the right support has been central to Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (CIOS) approach. A broad range of established growth programmes are available across the region and the CIOS Growth Hub’s diagnostic service matches scaleups with the right support. 

Scaleup support in CIOS is largely sector focused but with some additional support designed around particular scaling challenges. This includes innovation support delivered through the region’s universities and technical support to drive digital adoption and best use of technology. A key strand of support aims to future proof scaleups against changes in the economic landscape.

The Growth Hub maintains conversations with scaleups throughout their scaling journeys, ensuring that they are actively involved in the wider ecosystem and that high growth businesses become exemplars for companies in the scaling pipeline. The Growth Hub aims to be a visible and active part of the business landscape. 

Emerging clusters centre around aerospace and Cornwall’s spaceport at Newquay airport. The spaceport aims to be a competitive and sustainable hub, enabling innovation, modelling responsibility and inspiring change. The CIOS ecosystem is also characterised by its creative industries and a large number of family and interlinked businesses.

ONS data for 2020 shows that there are 250 scaleups in the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP: 90 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 195 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 35 are scaleups that are increasing both employment and turnover simultaneously.

The ONS data reflects that across the four-year period from 2017 to 2020 the density of scaleups has decreased by -2.97 per 100,000 of population per year.


Scaleups in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly can access a range of programmes targeted at scaleups and the scaling pipeline.

The Future Focus programme uses specialist support to future-proof businesses and give them a competitive edge. Scaleups are supported to identify threats, opportunities and emerging trends and given the resources and skills to maximise growth. Online growth and innovation planning sessions, access to labs and bespoke business research from the University of Exeter is combined with innovation coaching, recruitment support and access to innovation grants. Gamechanger events give business leaders the opportunity to gain insights and inspiration from world-leading experts and innovators. Future Focus is delivered by Unlocking Potential in partnership with the University of Exeter.

The CIOS Investment Fund, a collaboration with the Business Bank, was launched in 2018 to create jobs and attract new private-sector investment. It gives scaleups access to a £40 million equity fund and scaling businesses can apply for equity funding from £25,000 to £2m to support further growth. 

Skills Hub operates alongside the CIOS Growth Hub and offers skills analysis to scaleups. Scaling companies receive tailored Skills Toolkits to review their skills base, nurture talent and inform future recruitment and retention strategies.

The Create Growth Programme, which builds upon the pilot Creative Scale Up Programme in the West of England LEP, is rolling out to the area in January 2023. The programme will provide support to scaling businesses in the creative industries focused on building leadership capability and becoming investment ready. This programme is being delivered in 6 English regions with creative clusters and is funded by DCMS and Innovate UK. 

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


The latest evaluation report of the Future Focus programme, completed in 2020, showed that two thirds of the participants reported an increase in turnover with 64% reporting a turnover increase of more than 20%. 24% of the participants have accessed new markets and another 57% are expecting to access new markets or customers in the future as a result of Future Focus. 53% of the participants reported an increase in business resilience and 43% felt more confident for the future.

To date, the CIOS Investment Fund has invested around £40m in both equity and debt finance. £14m were invested into 49 businesses across the region and leveraged £40.2m private sector capital. 


CIOS plans to further develop its Growth Hub’s coordination function and maintain its visibility in the business ecosystem. It will maintain its focus on accelerating growth in key sectors – particularly in the creative industries through the new Create Growth programme – and continue its work to leverage data to further target support. 

Building on the success of the CIOS Investment Fund, £200m of government funding for the South West was announced in the Spending Review 2021. The new South West Fund will offer a range of commercial finance options with loans from £25,000 to £2m and equity investment up to £5m. The fund is expected to launch in the first half of 2023 and will cover the entire South West region including Bristol, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Longitudinal analysis 

According to ScaleUp Institute analysis of data received directly from ONS for years 2017-2020, the following picture emerges on the local environment.

Local Authorities located within the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP have a moderate-low density of scaleups, and the trend between 2017 and 2020 reveals that none 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: Needs Improvement

The vertical axis of this matrix shows where local authorities located in this LEP stand compared to the rest of the UK: 1 of the 2 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and both of the 2 local authorities have a below 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: 1 of the 2 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 1 of the 2 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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