Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

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Scaleups are the UK’s most innovative and productive and ambitious businesses but more action is needed to help them enter new markets both at home and internationally. In 2023, the majority of UK scaleups (64%) again identify access to these markets as the number one barrier to growth. 

They are ambitious to work more with government and large corporates but these ambitions are frustrated by complex and lengthy procurement processes. To overcome this, they demand practical help in the form of clearer guidance on becoming prime contractors, meet the buyer events and improved access to decision makers and dedicated account managers. And they want the opportunity to showcase their business online. 

Export markets remain key with more than half (52%) of scaleups already exporting and 7 in 10 (68%) ambitious to break into international markets. Here scaleups prioritise support in the form of better introductions to overseas markets. 

Newly recognised as one to watch by the Scaleup Institute, Santander Navigator is an end-to-end trade facilitation platform supporting aspiring and established internationally trading UK scaleups to access new markets. The multi-featured platform includes upskilling options on exploiting market opportunities, exports and understanding rules of origin as well as opportunities to engage with activities in key markets such as China, South Africa and India. 

Scaleups demand more tailored trade missions for businesses like theirs. Grow London Global – formerly the Mayor’s International Business Programme – has helped more than 1,400 ambitious London scaleups to expand their businesses internationally. The programme has evolved to meet the needs of the current economic and geopolitical environment and more scaleups are now benefiting from access to a greater number of events and trade missions. 

Launched in 2019, Manchester-based Global Scale-up  (GSU) is designated one to watch by the Institute. This four-stage programme for North West scaleups culminates in curated overseas using GSU’s global networks and private sector partners. 

With eight in ten scaleups focused on B2B markets collaboration across the private and public sectors to leverage supply chain opportunities is critical to realising scaling potential. The Sharing in Growth programme supports scaleups to achieve this by opening up new opportunities in the global aerospace and offshore wind supply chains. Participants received targeted support from the programme’s 100-strong team of business coaches and access to a global network of experts.

Match-Maker Ventures supports scaleups through curated introductions and sales support to large corporates around the world. Identified as one to watch by the Institute, the programme’s global network of 130+ Match Makers spans 40 countries including key strategic growth areas in Latin America and the Middle East. It now maps more than 150,000 corporate connections worldwide.

Scaleups remain ambitious to increase their domestic and international market penetration and we must break down export barriers and fulfil their growth ambitions. They demand more support to help them realise this ambition. Here we showcase some excellent programmes already helping scaleups to fulfil these ambitions but we urgently need more targeted to support to fully leverage scaleup potential.