Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2022

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South East


27.7% average turnover growth for Scaleup Ashford participants

200 new jobs created by Enhanced Business Support scaleups

£6.9m+ combined revenue growth across Enhanced Business Support participants

£2m+ of capital investment secured by Enhanced Business Support scaleups

£1m+ of capital investment secured by Scale-Up Medway participants


The South East LEP remains the second largest cluster of scaleups in England behind its near neighbour London. Scaleup growth across the South East region remains robust and comes through development of a consolidated and realigned business strategy with a focus on key sectoral trends including recognition of the strength of the local IT sector alongside significant clusters of creative and service industries. 

Key challenges for local scaleups include access to infrastructure for growth, rising energy costs, and access to talent. The region is home to many ports and access points to the European continent which is creating additional local challenges associated with the UK’s exit from the EU. Supply chain disruption and wider macroeconomic pressures are also impacting the region’s scaling businesses. 

Scaleup support across the South East region is delivered at a local level via three Growth Hubs directing businesses to the high growth programmes located in their areas best suited to their business needs. Local scaleups are increasingly focused on the net zero agenda which is becoming a key strand of business support. The LEP is also supporting scaleups to explore new approaches to attracting talent including flexible employee incentive packages. 

In the Kent and Medway area of the LEP, the focus on scaleups is increasing with new support now available through the Kent Enhanced Business Support programme. This sits alongside scaleup support delivered through established programmes funded by local authorities including the Ashford and Medway Scale Up programmes.

ONS data for 2020 shows that there are 1,835 scaleups in the South East LEP: 650 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 1,515 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 330 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 -2.52 per 100,000 of population per year.


Scale Up Ashford, is a 12 month bespoke programme supporting cohorts of ten businesses at a time. Each cohort begins with a workshop introducing the programme and its concepts. A business coach then meets with individual businesses to conduct a survey and identify issues and to work with the scaleup to create a tailored plan of action including targets and goals.

Participants receive intensive bespoke support from their business coach through monthly face to face sessions. Business leaders are also held to account against monthly and programme goals with progress monitored via a digital platform that allows for easy tracking. Alongside the core support participants can also draw on the resources of the Chamber of Commerce, the Growth Hub and the local council to help resolve issues such as funding, infrastructure and regulation. The programme ends with a workshop to discuss outcomes and share learnings with peers. 

Scale-Up Medway is a year-long fully funded programme for local businesses that have traded for more than five years and employ more than ten staff and have the capacity and ambition to grow. Cohorts of 8 businesses benefit from up to 36 hours of intensive business coaching; expert support in international trade, finance, HR, property and legal; grant and funding application support; peer network support; access to a platform to promote and showcase their business locally and internationally; and optional access to the Curve performance tracking software.

The Enhanced Business Support programme is a fully funded programme by Kent County Council, and delivered through the Kent & Medway Growth Hub that encourages scaling business owners to engage with professional coaches and mentors to identify strategies for growth, overcome barriers and find out about funding options including grants and loans.  The programme also introduces participants to a range of further support including export services and post Brexit advice. The programme is open to all businesses with growth ambitions and offers 18 months of support. 

There are also a range of more public and private programmes across the South East region – find out more on the scaleup support finder here


Forty six businesses have now completed the Scale Up Ashford programme, benefiting from an average 27.7% increase in turnover. Scaleups have attracted more than £1m of capital investment and received more than £230k in grant funding.

In the past 18 months the Enhanced Business Support programme participants created 200 new jobs and achieved more than £6.9m in revenue growth as well as securing more than £2m of capital investment across 20 businesses. Over 18 months, 29 new connections were made across the local supply chain. 


Unlocking high growth potential is at the centre of future support in the area and will be further enhanced with new scaleup programmes planned in Canterbury and Dover in partnership with the Local Authorities and a continuation of the Kent-wide Enhanced Business Support programme.  

Funded by DCMS, the recently launched Create Growth programme, will offer scaleup support to creative high-growth potential businesses and investor building activities in the South East and Coast to Capital areas. More specifically, scaling creative businesses in Kent, Essex and East and West Sussex wil benefit from an intensive business support programme including peer learning and investment readiness training and growth finance opportunities.

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 South East 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: 18 of the 32 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 18 of the 32 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: 19 of the 32 local authorities are below the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 18 of the 32 local authorities are below 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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