Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

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Greater Manchester

250 investors secured and 80 new markets entered via Global Scale-up

100+ scaleups supported by Create Growth with £3m investment secured

184 scaleups supported by Recipe4Success with 64 new jobs created


Greater Manchester remains focused on supporting a wider group of scaleups and high-growth potential businesses. Regional trends amongst scaleups – including a keen focus on expansion into export markets and concerns about accessing talent – shape the business support system across the city region. 

Aligned with Greater Manchester’s Local Industrial Strategy and the Greater Manchester Strategy, support is focused around key “frontier sectors” in the local economy:

  • clean growth
  • health innovation
  • advanced materials and manufacturing
  • digital, creative and media

This focus to support R&D, creativity and innovation as well as increase investment and productivity is central to Manchester’s growth propositions. Internationalisation also remains a key focus and the city’s flagship Global Scale-Up programme offers bespoke support to scaleups in this regard. This and wider support across the combined authority area is largely delivered by the local Growth Hub but retains the flexibility to bring in specialist skills as needed. 

Scaling businesses in the region have highlighted increased challenges to their ongoing growth, including increasing costs for businesses and their staff, resulting in greater risk aversion and reduced confidence in decision making.

Reflecting the needs of scaleups across the region, Greater Manchester has evolved its support to prioritise leadership confidence building, risk mitigation strategies and resilience building. Scaleup support programmes have reverted to a 100 percent in person delivery model to cement key learnings and maximise peer networking and collaboration opportunities amongst cohorts. Furthermore, to enable greater targeting and development of support for scaling businesses, the new online tool Growth Flag has been launched which identifies businesses with scaling potential across the region.

ONS data for 2021 shows that there are 1,280 scaleups in Greater Manchester: 460 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 1,070 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 250 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 -1.42 per 100,000 of population per year.


The Global Scale-up internationalisation programme supports scaleups to rapidly expand into multiple markets. It takes high growth businesses across a range of sectors through a four-stage process – Onboarding to the global community, International Growth Sprints, Bootcamps and an international visit – to increase their global footprint. Participating scaleups are assigned a dedicated account manager who provides support and guidance throughout the programme. In 2021 the programme was recognised as ‘One to Watch’ by the ScaleUp Institute for its increasing evidence of support to break down the barriers faced by scaleups entering international markets.

The Scale-Up Forum, based in the Alliance Manchester Business School in University of Manchester, provides an opportunity for scaling businesses to share their experiences as they explore common challenges and gain valuable insights into how different business leaders overcome these challenges. The programme combines peer-to-peer learning and expert speakers from business and academia. The forum has had more than 50 scaleups as members and has completed 15 themed events. In 2023, the Scale Up Forum is revising the scope of its delivery model to best meet the needs of scaling businesses in the North West Region.

As part of the Innovation Accelerator programme – a pilot programme investing £100 million in 26 projects across Glasgow, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands – 10 projects have been selected to become part of the city-region’s Innovation Accelerator programme.  These include Future Homes Project; Greater Manchester Electro-chemical Hydrogen Cluster; Pilots for the Sustainable Materials Translational Research Centre (p-SMTRC); Manchester Turing Innovation Hub (MTIH); Immersive Technologies Innovation Hub; DEVOTE Programme; Energy Accelerator for Non-Domestic Buildings; Centre for Digital Innovation (CDI); AR EdTech For Hydrogen Skills; GM Advanced Diagnostics Accelerator. As part of the programme, the Innovation Greater Manchester board, a business-led partnership that brings together the private sector, academia and local government, has worked with Innovate UK and DSIT to select these projects and co-design an Innovation Plan. This approach has empowered local business, civic and academic leaders to effectively target R&D funding for the benefit of the local economy and communities. 

Sector-specific support available to scaleups in Greater Manchester includes:

The Create Growth Programme is a sector specific scaleup programme that helps businesses in the creative industries to develop their leadership capabilities and growth strategy and to become investment ready and access finance. Themes for the DCMS-funded programme include diverse inclusive leadership, IP, investment and finance, and globalisation. 

Recipe4Success is aimed at early stage businesses with growth potential in the food and drink industry. It is designed to help businesses diversify and create more market access channels, building on the rise of localism and restaurant ‘experiences’. 

STEP INto Healthcare helps businesses in the life sciences sector to scale. It provides access to networks, strategic knowledge and market opportunities through a combination of one-to-one support and workshops with leading industry experts.

Bruntwood SciTech’s Alderley Park provides vital infrastructure support to scaleups in the life sciences and tech sectors. Resident scaleups have access to Alderley Park’s flexible infrastructure and scientific services, giving them the facilities they need to fulfil their growth potential. This includes dedicated vivarium space and access to highly specialised suites from surgery to and bio-imaging. 

Launched in 2017 by the British Business Bank, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) provides commercially focused finance through its microfinance, debt and equity finance funds which offer financing ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.

Made Smarter helps early-stage and scaling businesses in the manufacturing sector use technology to streamline their processes. It was borne out of a UK Government commissioned industry-led review exploring how UK manufacturing industries can prosper via integration of digital technology tools and innovation. The programme connects established and emerging UK technology innovators with the manufacturing community to overcome operational challenges and delivers tailored support at any stage of the businesses’ digital journey.

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


Global Scale-Up has supported 250 Greater Manchester scaleups who have created 115 jobs and entered 80 new markets since joining the programme.

More than 100 scaleups have been supported by Create Growth, with 30% of participants currently exporting. Participants have secured investment of over £3m and have engaged with more than 300 investors. Create Growth has a 98% customer satisfaction rating.

Recipe4Success has supported 184 scaleups – including 90 female-led and 62 ethnic minority-led businesses – across nine cohorts. Participants have created 64 new jobs and secured £40,465 in additional investment. Participating scaleups have gone on to feature in over 100 media appearances, won 47 awards and are now exporting to 14 countries. 


The drop off rate across Create Growth and Exceed has been less than 5%. This is credited to the ‘invitation only’ model in which cohort attendance is curated from EOI stage and scaleups invited to attend specific cohorts. This allows delivery to be tailored to scaling needs. 

The past year has seen a high proportion of pre-scaleups accessing support. Work is needed to identify these ambitious companies with scaleup capability and create a tailored ecosystem of support.


The major priority for Greater Manchester over the next 12 months is to make the transition between funding regimes seamless, ensuring a consistent quality of scaleup support. Taking forward a number of learnings from the Driving Economic Growth course, the region will also focus on increasing collaboration between suppliers in the scaleup ecosystem, both on a national and international level. 

Building upon the established local strategies, going forward all Greater Manchester target sectors will be priorities for scaleup support alongside critical thematic areas – Bee Net Zero and Decarbonisation, Innovation, Leadership, Workforce Development and Mentoring, Social Value, Access to Finance and Funding. 

The new Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund II, a £660m investment fund which will be launched at the start of 2024. It will cover the entire North of England including Greater Manchester.


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 Greater Manchester have a moderate-low density of scaleups, and the trend between 2018 and 2021 reveals the following:

Scaleups by Density: Moderate

The vertical axis of this matrix shows where local authorities located in this locality stand compared to the rest of the UK: 6 of the 10 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 7 of the 10 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Mixed

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: 5 of the 10 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 8 of the 10 local authorities are above 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.