Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

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Enterprise M3


Unlocking scaleup potential is central to Enterprise M3’s (EM3) ambitions for a low carbon, high innovation and high growth economy. This is underpinned by harnessing the power of regional and sectoral clusters, and cluster infrastructure is actively supported. 

A healthy cluster ecosystem demands a shift from competition to collaboration. Creating networks and forging partnerships between cluster companies, local authorities, academia and other stakeholders has therefore been a key focus. 

Guildford’s thriving gaming cluster consists of 70 ambitious and scaling businesses and has evolved under the Guildford games brand and annual games festival. It is recognised as an area of high export potential, generating new revenue sources for the cluster and expanding their reach into new consumer markets. The success of the Guildford games cluster acts as a model for shaping support for other sectors spanning aviation, creative tech, space and satellite and animal health. 

Driven by the Universities of Surrey and Portsmouth with contributions from the private sector including Surrey Satellite Technology, Space South Central, the largest space cluster in the UK, accelerates growth and champions innovation in the region’s space and satellite industry. This emerging cluster is becoming a powerful force and has already attracted funding from the UK Space Agency to provide a living lab to support SMEs in satellite manufacturing techniques and for forging international partnerships.

The JetZero aviation cluster centred around Farnborough supports companies working in key areas including sustainable aviation fuel, advanced materials manufacturing and reducing emissions on flights. EM3 has hosted stakeholder workshops with business, academia and local authorities to create opportunity and drive collaboration. Economic consultants SQW has been commissioned to map business activity and research initiatives and identify key assets and produce a sector proposition. 

The Animal Health Innovation Network centred around the University of Surrey’s vHive innovation hub and the Pirbright Institute has also been recognised by the Department for Business & Trade as a high potential opportunity. EM3 has actively promoted this cluster to an international audience, generating a number of inward investment enquiries.

EM3 has commissioned Hampshire County Council’s Economics Team to research life sciences businesses in Hampshire and Surrey, highlighting a significant cluster of pharma and medical technology companies spanning some 370 sites and accounting for 5% of the national footprint. A new action plan will steer engagement with this key sector and connect ambitious businesses to the Academic Health Science Network.

Other thriving clusters include the Runnymede Createch cluster and the Longcross enterprise zone. 

Key growth barriers experienced by scaleups in the EM3 region include access to finance, alignment of company structure and vision and net zero readiness. The LEP works closely with universities and business schools and other partners including Innovate UK, Enterprise Nation and Newable to address these challenges within the ecosystem. 

ONS data for 2021 shows that there are 765 scaleups in Enterprise M3: 265 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 630 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 130 are scaleups that are increasing both employment and turnover simultaneously.

The ONS data reflects that across the four-year period from 2018 to 2021 the density of scaleups has decreased by -6.59 per 100,000 of population per year.


Enterprise M3 offers a range of support to the region’s scaleups, identifying scaling potential and signposting on to key growth programmes to develop the ecosystem. 

Using the GROWTHmapper tool, developed by Oxford Innovation, EM3 gains valuable insights into companies’ strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement. This is combined with a one-to-one triage session to examine the results and the business’ plans in more detail. Scaleups are referred on to a panel of six experts and as appropriate for tailored one-to-one support. Expertise available spans sustainability, bid writing, digital marketing, business strategy and growth, property, manufacturing, and engineering. In-house Growth Champions direct support.

New this year, a Future Fund supports ambitious and scaling businesses  through flexible funding for  projects that support a  low carbon, high growth economy. EM3 Growth Hub also has a programme of funded events, workshops and webinars to support business growth.  

The SETsquared Scale-Up Programme, endorsed by SUI in 2023, offers scaling businesses access to a high-profile network with direct links to research, talent and expertise across all six scale-up partner universities, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. Designed around the key challenges of securing public grant and private investment for company-led R&D and innovation, SETsquared supports companies to identify the right expertise to develop their technology and provides them with free grant writing support, helping craft their grant applications and gain private investment. In addition, it gives general support which includes innovation and impact ‘workouts’, masterclasses and curated opportunities to meet investors and customers.

Help to Grow: Management gives ambitious and scaling companies access to leadership support and funding to help integrate software into their business. Scaleups also have access to funding specialists through Innovate UK.  EM3 also refers to regional and national programmes including Innovate UK EDGE, the Careers Hub, Finance South East and DIT.  Enterprise M3’s entrepreneur in residence collaboration with Southampton Science Park offers further support to high-growth companies. 

The area’s  peer support programmes have focused on pre-start and start-up businesses.  Early-stage peer programme participants can access further actionable and scalable support through UMi’s business satnav app. 

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

LeSsons learned

The business support landscape is currently seen as crowded and fragmented. There is a need to simplify access and identify and engage with companies with scaleup potential to develop the ecosystem further. There is a difference between business support and driving growth and proactive engagement with scaleups is critical to grow and engage the local ecosystem.


Following participation in SUI’s Driving Economic Growth course earlier this year, key stakeholders from the region are currently working together to develop a new programme focused on proactively driving growth in scaleups. They aim to create a new self-sustaining ecosystem partnership approach to support the high number of scaleups in the local ecosystem, in order to maximise their potential and support the region as one of the UK’s key engines for growth.

In addition, EM3 will continue to focus on ‘high growth, low carbon’, delivering against its plans for 2023/4 prior to its disaggregation into the local authorities overseen by Hampshire and Surrey County Councils.  


According to ScaleUp Institute analysis of data received directly from ONS for years 2018-2021, the following picture emerges on the local environment.

Local Authorities located within Enterprise M3 have a moderate-high density of scaleups, and the trend between 2018 and 2021 reveals the following:

Scaleups by Density: Excellent

The vertical axis of this matrix shows where local authorities located in this locality stand compared to the rest of the UK: 10 of the 13 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 12 of the 13 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Needs Improvement

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: 11 of the 13 local authorities are below the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 12 of the 13 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.