Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2022

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Greater Birmingham and Solihull

38% average turnover increase one year after completing the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth

94% of Aston Programme for Small Business Growth participants are more confident in growing their business

79% of Aston Programme for Small Business Growth participants improved their ability to use financial data more in decision making

Pitch Up has supported more than 100 companies to secure over £60m in investment

Clean growth grants made to more than 60 businesses


Greater Birmingham and Solihull (GBSLEP) has focused help where it will have the greatest impact. This includes signposting scaleups to the best possible support to meet their scaling needs whether that is delivered on a local or national basis. The region has seen a significant increase in demand for growth services following the pandemic and in face of current challenges with increasing costs and supply chain disruption.

A key area for GBSLEP has been supporting business to turn intellectual assets into growth and commercial advantage. The new West Midlands IP Route Map framework will take businesses from pre-start through to scaling, giving them the ability to grow through their innovations and assets. This sits alongside the new Midlands IP Forum which gives scaling companies access to talent and skills from a full range of IP professionals, including tax specialists and solicitors.

Across the GBSLEP region the tech and life science sectors have seen significant growth while in other sectors post-pandemic has been focused on sustaining rather than scaling growth. Activity on clean growth and net zero continues with tailored programmes to help scaling and growth businesses invest in clean technology. 

Overcoming barriers associated with access to finance remains a key priority for the area. Looking ahead, GBSLEP aims to bring in as much wider ecosystem support as possible by enhancing connectivity with key partners including finance and legal specialists, chambers of commerce, local universities and specialist social enterprise partners.

ONS data for 2020 shows that there are 875 scaleups in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP: 310 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 735 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 170 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 -1.94 per 100,000 of population per year.


Newly endorsed in 2022 for its role supporting the scaling pipeline in the West Midlands, the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth has seen a significant increase in numbers in each cohort. Launched in 2015, it aims to help high-growth potential businesses to grow by increasing turnover and creating jobs. The programme involves a combination of workshops and one-to-one support to help tackle business challenges along with networking with other business owners from the Midlands. It also supports participants to explore growth opportunities and to pitch growth strategies to finance experts. 

The Clean Growth Grant programme provides capital grants of up to £10,000 – 30 per cent match funded – available to scaling businesses wanting to invest in clean growth through energy efficiency measures, increasing renewable energy production or through lowering total energy use. Grants have been made to more than 60 businesses including a number of scaleups. 

The Growth Hub has recently launched the Founders’ Collective finance accelerator that supports businesses at various stages of development that need to accelerate to sustain strong growth trajectories. The seven-week programme involves a combination of group and one-to-one sessions that help founders understand funding and finance sources and how to become investment ready.

Minerva Birmingham Pitch Up (previously known as Pitchfest WM) is delivered in collaboration with the Centre for Growth at Aston University, the University of Birmingham and Warwick Science Park and is offered to ambitious early stage and scaling businesses . It supports businesses to become investment ready and gives them immediate access to potential investors. 

Help to Grow: Management is delivered in partnership with Aston University and industry experts. Aimed at business leaders in small and medium businesses, it combines in-depth training with one-to-one mentoring. The course covers strategies for growth and innovation, leading high-performance teams and digital adoption as well as financial management and responsible business practices. Takeaways include a tailor-made plan for growth.

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


Since 2015, 247 scaling businesses have completed the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth. Evaluaton of the first stage of the programme showed that 80 participants had created over 600 new jobs (200 of which were attitubuted directly to the impact of the programme), with an uplift of £22 million turnover and increase of £10.4m GVA. Participants noted a 38% average turnover increase for businesses one year after completing the programme, 94% of the participants reported more confidence in growing their business and 79% improved their ability to use financial data more in decision making.

Over the last 5 years, the Minerva Birmingham Pitch Up competition has put over 125 entrepreneurs directly in front of investors and helped bring over £40m of investments to the region’s early-stage and scaling businesses.


Greater Birmingham and Solihull plans to focus on existing good practice to reshape resources according to business needs while maintaining a critical lens on scaleups. It will continue to leverage private sector resources and will develop finance to scale support in collaboration with private sector partners. 


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 Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP have a moderate-low density of scaleups, and the trend between 2017 and 2020 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: 5 of the 9 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 6 of the 9 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: 5 of the 9 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 5 of the 9 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.


The [Aston for Small Business Growth] programme provided a structured, comprehensive approach that enabled us to analyse and resolve our growth restrictions and define a clear plan. Our membership business grew by 98% in the six months after we finished the course … Above all, the course gave us the confidence to set our goals and aspirations much higher than we would have otherwise done. It made us all a bit braver – we are currently in the process of looking for a significant external investment to support our ambitious growth plans.” – KAT CARRICK, Concierge Medical

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