Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2022

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We know that scaleups thrive when they have access to flourishing ecosystems and sectoral hubs act as a lynchpin of innovation and success. But close to four in ten scaleups still feel that more needs to be done so that they can access the infrastructure that should support further growth.

Sectoral clusters drive growth and innovation to the benefit of the entire ecosystem. This is particularly true across the creative, tech and life sciences sectors. Access to onsite technical expertise, research facilities and peer networks are key and programmes like Babraham Research Campus, Alderley Park and Scale Space play a critical role in creating connected communities that foster innovation and opportunity for co-located companies and drive growth. 

This year the ScaleUp Institute is pleased to endorse Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC). A collaboration between BEIS, GlaxoSmithKline, Wellcome and Innovate UK, SBC aims to support a globally recognised vibrant ecosystem, bringing together academics, biotech and pharma organisations. The campus offers a range of lab and office accommodation as well as business and scientific support.

Scaleups are pioneers, innovating at twice the rate of typical firms. The overwhelming majority were involved in some innovative activity (90%) or introduced new or improved product (80%) in the past three years. Close to a third demand better access to testing environments for developing innovative solutions. 

Programmes like one to watch Digital Catapult are key drivers of advanced technologies through provision of physical and digital facilities and advanced technology labs and testbeds. Since 2018 Digital Catapult has helped 3,000 companies in 50+ accelerator cohorts.  

The FCA Sandbox’s has supported 166 scaleups innovating in the financial services arena. This year it moved from a cohort framework to an ‘always open’ model and launched a second pilot for scaleups operating in the disclosure, environmental and social and governance data space.  All participants reported innovation acceleration and more than one in seven (73%) either raised new investment or were actively engaged with investors.

Canary Wharf’s Level39 provides innovation space to FinTech, AI, data, blockchain and cybersecurity scaleups. The hub is home 180 pipeline and scaling businesses. Developments this year include new advanced technology for event space and virtual membership for overseas entrepreneurs.

Bristol based Engine Shed brings together investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics and corporates to drive innovation and inclusive economic growth. It hosts the SETsquared Bristol Incubator which provides support to over 80 high growth technology businesses, and in 2021, it passed the landmark of £600m investment raised by members.  Women made up 45 per cent of participating founders and ethnic minorities 24 per cent.

Fourteen enterprise hubs – including two new hubs in Cambridge and Southampton – support NatWest’s Entrepreneur Accelerator, providing access to ecosystem partners and customers. In the last year, three new specialist accelerators launched bringing new sector and region specific support.

Barclays Eagle Labs now offers a nationwide network of 34 incubators. These provide  mentoring and co-working services as well as office space for ambitious high-growth businesses and digital skills development, rapid prototyping services and access to Industry 4.0 expertise.  

The Cambridge Cluster Insights tool supports scaling businesses in Cambridge and 14 neighbouring local authority districts to attract new talent, customers and investors from the UK and overseas and informs ecosystem support across the region.

These programmes demonstrate the power of strong sectoral and regional ecosystems that foster collaboration and give access to vital R&D resources. They drive growth and attract investment, creating vibrant local, national and international scaleups communities. However there is still more to do to support key sectoral clusters across the UK to thrive and we will continue to champion the development of new initiatives that enhance the ability of scaleups to collaborate and innovate.

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