Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

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Liverpool City Region

240 scaling businesses supported by the High Growth Innovation Sprint

29% average turnover growth by High Growth Innovation Sprint participants

181 digital, creative and tech scaleups supported by Gather

£2.24m Grants awarded through LCR High Growth to 30 scaleups


Liverpool City Region (LCR) offers scaleups a high growth account management model, with a team of specialist high-growth advisers who engage scaleups and the scaleup pipeline across the region.  Advisers identify and engage scaleups to understand the particular challenges they face and connect them to the specialist support that will best drive their growth.

Growth programmes are tailored to different parts of the region’s ecosystem. To maximise impact, programmes are based around small cohorts of scaleups. LCR works in partnership with local, regional and national delivery partners, including the region’s combined authority and local authorities, to develop and deliver bespoke interventions around critical areas. These include innovation, net zero, supply chains and export.

In 2023, the Combined Authority approved plans to integrate the work of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) into the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, appointing a new Business and Enterprise Board and is seeking recognised business leaders in three key sectors – advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences and the digital and creative industries – to volunteer their expertise and time to become members of new cluster boards to support regional growth. A Local Skills Improvement Plan has also been developed to respond to identified skills gaps of local scaling businesses.

There is a focus on key growth sectors in the region: advanced manufacturing and health and life sciences along with the creative and digital sectors, in particular gaming. The region has a strong university base and is recognised for its creative talent pool.  The region has also seen significant growth in financial and professional services and clean growth sectors. 

It also has a strong export profile within the automotive, manufacturing and chemical industries and significant future opportunities exist within the advanced manufacturing and health and life sciences sectors, including in the pharmaceutical and infection control industries.

ONS data for 2021 shows that there are 530 scaleups in Liverpool City Region: 205 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 440 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 115 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 -0.54 per 100,000 of population per year.


Scaleup and scaling pipeline businesses in LCR have access to a range of programmes that support them to achieve their growth ambitions.

The LCR High Growth Business Support supports businesses with high growth potential to innovate, adapt, and grow. It offers a range of support, to drive their innovation and growth. Three account managers work with leaders to take a forensic look at their business via a free diagnostic tool and connect them with support that will best create growth. 

Part of the LCR Metro Mayor’s Business Growth Package support, Gather is aimed at creative, tech and tech-enabled businesses. It delivers one-to-one support with dedicated growth consultants along with a suite of events, activities and support programmes to digital, creative and tech-enabled businesses as well as including dedicated programmes for scaling businesses. Gather: Beyond is a six-month programme of dedicated strategic support to help businesses through their scaling journey. This includes high-performance coaching, peer-to-peer learning and a bespoke consultancy plan to unlock sustainable growth. 

The Edge Hill University Productivity & Innovation Centre provides innovation support and advisory services to Liverpool City Region and Lancashire based early-stage and scaling businesses. Part of its support, the flagship three-month High Growth Innovation Sprint Programme which has been endorsed by the ScaleUp Institute in 2023, addresses challenges to growth and helps scaleups develop financially feasible solutions by focusing on product and service innovation.

Clean Growth UK is delivered by Liverpool John Moores University. It helps early-stage and scaling businesses develop clean and green products, services and processes through access to research expertise and facilities, free expert workshops and business resources and funding opportunities.

Also delivered by Liverpool John Moores University and launched in 2020, MBA Business Scale Up is the first MBA programme focused on scaleups. It is a two-year part-time masters level degree comprising four key phases: Accelerating Business Growth, Developing the Business for Scale, Leadership Strategies to Enable Growth and the Business Growth Project. After the first year, scaling business leaders diagnose areas for accelerated growth and create action plans.

Help to Grow: Management is delivered by the University of Liverpool Management School and supports senior leadership of early stage scaling businesses to boost business performance, resilience and long-term growth. Delivered through a blend of online and face-to-face learning, participants finish the course with a tailored business growth plan and have access to an extensive alumni programme and network.

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


The Edge Hill University Productivity & Innovation Centre’s High Growth Innovation Sprint programme has supported 219 early-stage and scaling  businesses, creating 517 new jobs, 113 new to firm products and services, and 32 new to market products and services. Participating scaleups achieved 29% average turnover growth and a 25-49% profitability increase. 

Gather has now supported 181 high-growth digital, creative and tech businesses through the delivery of 287 support interventions, creating 314 new jobs and safeguarding a further 237. Participants achieved an overall turnover growth of over £18m. 

Forty scaling businesses have been through four cohorts of the MBA Business Scale Up programme and 22 have now completed the programme. A further 18 are currently progressing through the programme.  

The LCR High Growth has awarded grants of £25-75k to 30 scaling businesses. Grants awarded total £2.24m. The programme attracted 200 expressions of interest. 


In 2023, following attendance at the ScaleUp Institute’s Driving Economic Growth Course, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority made plans to launch the Scalelab Project to formally recognise the importance of scaleup activity in the Liverpool City Region. Scalelab will drive growth by supporting and inspiring ambitious leaders of 25 of the City region’s scaleups and 75 high-growth potential businesses through a dynamic and connected ecosystem that celebrates diversity.

Alongside existing initiatives, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has announced a new £20m Seed Fund will support innovative new businesses to scale and a £1m funding boost for the LCR Angel Network to drive further scaleup growth and create new jobs.

A new advanced manufacturing fund, delivered by LCR’s Lyva Labs in partnership with Innovate UK Launchpad, is being launched and a £4.1m Tech Accelerator programme from Baltic Ventures will give further support to the region’s scaleups. 

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 Liverpool City Region.

“[Gather] revolutionised the way we work at Poke…This in turn has put us in a position to grow, confident that we can still deliver the same high level of strategic creative at scale.”
– Nicola Docking, MD, Poke

“[Gather] has given us as a leadership team an incredible amount of clarity, knowledge and insights that we were able to turn into an actionable plan to help our business in its next stage of growth.”
Paul Davies, COO, Yozu


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 Liverpool City Region have a low density of scaleups with encouraging increase over time, the trend between 2018 and 2021 reveals the following:

Scaleups by Density: Needs Improvement

The vertical axis of this matrix shows where local authorities located in this locality stand compared to the rest of the UK: 4 of the 6 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 4 of the 6 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Excellent

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: all of the 6 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 5 of the 6 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.