Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2022

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Scaleup identification – data

Data is a powerful catalyst. Better utilisation of data has the potential to more quickly identify and then target fast-growing businesses, and connect them with appropriate advice and support. Government is a central data repository and provider, and can play a key role in galvanising growth by sharing data more actively across government departments, and with appropriate local institutions in order to aid scaleups.

We know from our survey that scaleups are happy to be identified, with 8 in 10 stating that their scaleup status should be shared (5 in 10 on an opt-in basis) in order to connect them to better services.

In past years, we have seen notable progress in this area. The Data Enabled Change Accelerator (DECA) project involving BEIS and HMRC, and with input from the Scaleup Institute, demonstrated how targeted communications prompted businesses to engage with business support offers in much higher numbers than normal communications. We are seeing some of this methodology applied as part of the rollout of the Scaleup Visa, which is hugely important. However, there is more that can be done: pairing Government data with a High Growth Relationship team, to ensure that the UKs fastest growing businesses can be fast tracked to services, export and procurement opportunities, and connected with peers has the potential to super-charge growth.

Government and the private sector are also increasingly using segmented offers with the British Business Bank’s ‘Start Up / Scaleup / Stay Ahead’ classification of their programmes. The Innovation Strategy, and closer working between Innovate UK and the British Business Bank on their Innovation Hub is a positive way forward, and this kind of collaborative working across departments is key. The Digital Strategy and the Government’s National Data Strategy is also a welcome development and we look forward to seeing how development of the Mission 1 Framework progresses, designed to unlock the value of data across the economy. We will be closely following and looking to support the creation of an infrastructure that promotes the availability of data for research and development policy.  

However, despite scaleup businesses’ willingness to be identified, the potential of this tool is still being limited by the availability and transparency of data. Current efforts, such as the first-stage beta test of the Integrated Data Service (IDS), appear to be based on too limited data sources. Therefore, we are also looking to the Government’s 2022-25 Data Roadmap announced in June, to take the major step of how the full breadth of HMRC data can be used more readily by Government at national and local levels in a more concerted way, building upon elements such as the Scaleup Visa and Global Talent Network.

The IDS should be looking to examine potential processes that may need to be created around real time access to this data, which will identify any barriers and develop the right balance between potential legislative barriers to using this data and the delivery of real economic value. This approach should also be taken with the Data Standards Authority, which under the UK Digital Strategy has been charged with improving how the public sector manages data, by establishing standards and making data-sharing across Government more effective. It is this element in particular where being able to identify the Scaleup Status of a business will be most critical, better aiding in the creation of a national CRM to connect up the different initiatives at play and reduce the friction scaleups often face when engaging with new opportunities.


Achieving active sharing of information across Government will enable support initiatives to be connected directly to the businesses needing them. Such action will also give Local Areas access to relevant information, underpinning more comprehensive and proactive Relationship Management programmes.

Recent publications relating to data have indicated a direction of travel, which could be hugely beneficial to wider efforts to galvanise growth from different government departments; including on accessing Talent, engaging with procurement, better valuing innovation, enabling companies to access leadership development, targeting them towards clusters, and helping them to access finance. However, this will not happen automatically, and there must be a concerted effort to ensure that efforts to unlock and more productively use Government data, keep the importance of growth, and innovative smaller businesses at their heart.


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