Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

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233 founders supported by CDL - Oxford

£1.3 bn+ equity value created by CDL - Oxford participants

432 scaling businesses supported from eScalate

18 grants worth more than £200k awarded to eScalate participants


Oxfordshire is home to a number of key clusters and hubs, including Harwell Campus – the country’s largest science campus – and Oxford University, the world’s top ranked higher education institution. OxLEP is part of Oxfordshire’s ongoing strategy to drive a dynamic, sustainable and growing economy in the region and beyond. 

There is strong interest and investment in the life sciences sector across the region, and the aerospace sector remains key. The creative and digital sector has also seen sustained growth and is now a significant sector for Oxfordshire along with the visitor economy, despite the challenges it still faces post Covid and Brexit. The region is also a hotspot for foreign direct investment, securing £1.5bn and supporting more than 2,000 jobs in the past three years. 

Over the past five years £24m worth of support has been given to ambitious and scaling Oxfordshire businesses through a series of programmes and grant schemes. Although cross sector programmes, eScalate and the national Peer Networks ended in April, OxLEP continues to grow the core scaleup support delivered through its OxLEP Business growth hub. 

With clearly demarcated support for ideation, start up, growth and succeed stages of business maturity, key interventions include its own scaleup Peer Networks programme and Foundations to Growth which equips scaling companies with tools for collaboration, improved leadership and management skills and knowledge, inspiration and motivation to grow. The hub also offers mentoring and strategic business reviews along with Scale Up at Speed, a programme combining in-person events, online workshops and one-to-one mentoring support. 

OxLEP has developed a business support tool to capture real-time information on the challenges faced by Oxfordshire scaleups, allowing it to adapt support to meet these challenges. Investment readiness and access to finance remain key priorities along with recruitment and the impact of inflation and rising utility costs on the ability to finance growth. Responding to these challenges, OxLEP developed its business support tool and scaleup support, flexing support to meet the specific needs of Oxfordshire’s scaling businesses.  

ONS data for 2021 shows that there are 415 scaleups in Oxfordshire: 155 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 345 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 85 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 -3.02 per 100,000 of population per year.


Destruction Lab – Oxford (CDL – Oxford) programme. Newly endorsed by the ScaleUp Institute, the programme offers support for the different challenges in businesses’ scaleup journey through mentorship from select entrepreneurs and angel investors, technical advice from CDL’s Chief Scientists, and business development support from MBA students.

The Oxford Brookes University Scale Up Network is a select group of scaleup leaders who come together to explore common constraint issues, co-create solutions and maximise the impact of potential improvements. Participants of this year-long programme benefit from the knowledge and skills of Oxford Brookes Business School along with external professional, facilitated support. Created by Oxford Brookes Business School in 2019, the Network is designed to enhance and develop the leadership and management capacity of local organisations, unlocking future potential and ensuring that time is optimised for maximum impact. The programme is sponsored by Blenheim Palace, STL and Owen Mumford.

Since the culmination of the eScalate programme in April, OxLEP Business has developed its growth and succeed support offerings taking forward the best elements of the previous programme. It also offers businesses access to Strategic Reviews where specialist advisers work with business leaders for eight hours over a month, focusing on priorities to promote growth and create or safeguard jobs. Further help is available through local delivery of the Peer Networks programme, offering one-to-one coaching and interactive learning to scaling businesses.  

Help To Grow: Management is a blended online and face to face programme aimed at senior leaders and offering in-depth training and one-to-one mentoring. It covers strategies for growth and innovation, leading high-performance teams and digital adoption, as well as financial management and responsible business practices. Leaders come away with a tailored business growth plan to help them take their business to the next level.

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


Since its creation, the CDL-Oxford programme has facilitated the creation of over £1.3 billion in equity value and has contributed to the creation of over 716 jobs by CDL-Oxford alumni businesses. In 2021/2022 58 projects were completed with the support of the CDL-Oxford Students through the CDL-Oxford student programme. To date, the CDL global ecosystem has facilitated the creation of £16.6 billion in equity value, signifying the success and growth of ventures nurtured within the program. CDL has welcomed over 4,282 ventures from 90 countries. 

The eScalate programme, which closed in April 2023, supported 432 scaleups since its launch in 2019 with 189 scaleups being female led. These scaleups have generated 289 jobs in the region. Additionally, 18 grants worth more than more than £200k were awarded to Oxfordshire scaleup businesses through the programme.

A further 13  scaling businesses were awarded  £220k to accelerate investment plans through the Business Investment Fund.


Investment and finance for growth remains an issue for scaling businesses and the support provided by eScalate, and in particular the two-day Investor Pitching Fast Track, was positively received. Its investment series of one-hour webinars gave further support, covering key areas including managing stock options and shares along with business valuation for investment or sale.

eScalate has also facilitated strong and ongoing relationships with local investors and other professionals including IP and tax experts. These relationships will be maintained and built upon as a source of further support for scaling businesses with their investment journeys.


Future focus concentrates on developing existing clusters. This includes financing for the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus to help it expand, building 440,000 sq. ft of new laboratory, R&D and office space, including the Tech Foundry, 220,000 sq. ft of Advanced Manufacturing space, and the Linear Accelerator Building, L^B, a landmark laboratory building for starting and scaling science organisations. 

The Connecting Space Clusters Highlight initiative aims to stimulate knowledge exchange and collaboration across the space industry, supporting business-led projects involving one or more partners from the space cluster (covering Space North, Space South Central Cluster, Space Scotland, and Westcott as well as Harwell and Sci-Tech Daresbury).  A Cross Cluster Proof of Concept call will foster collaboration between industries or between industry and research organisations.

“What was invaluable was the eScalate programme and working with investment experts. They put us in touch with the right people which led us to being finalists in the TBAT Innovation Awards. We’ve joined groups and webinars and made connections that have opened up potential investment opportunities. We also took part in OxLEP’s September Pitch to the Panel event, which we won. So, all of this has given us confidence that our idea is good. OxLEP have definitely helped us grow our network and master our pitch deck as well.” – Detonator Publishing

“The OxLEP team were absolutely fantastic in terms of support. They provided input in areas such as sales, investment readiness and business plan development. And another brilliant thing about it was the general networking and connections you build from joining the workshop sessions and attending events. OxLEP have played a pivotal part in the development of our business over the past couple of years.” – P3MO


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 Oxfordshire 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: 4 of the 5 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and all of the 5 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Good

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: 3 of the 5 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 3 of the 5 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.