Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

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South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority


South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) aims to create a cohesive ecosystem to drive a culture of growth and support high growth companies throughout their scaling journey. Collaboration underpins this approach and specialist scaling support is developed and delivered with key ecosystem partners, including the region’s two universities, local authorities and private sector partners.  

This year has seen a shift of focus for scaleup support delivery in the region with the successful RISE and Scaleup360 programmes coming to a close. New core scaleup support in South Yorkshire includes two flagship scaleup grant funding programmes. Scaleups are further supported by a team of specialist growth advisers who also act as accountability partners. 

Scaleups can also access regional incubators and accelerators including the Sheffield Hallam i-Lab, a dynamic coworking innovation and incubation space which is a focal point for the region’s business growth programmes. 

ONS data for 2021 shows that there are 440 scaleups in the South Yorkshire Combined Authority: 150 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 360 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 70 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 -2.87 per 100,000 of population per year.


The change of funding regimes and the end of EDRF funding has seen two key lines of support – the RISE and ScaleUp 360 programmes – come to an end this year. Working collaboratively with ecosystem partners, including local authorities and two universities, South Yorkshire has identified two key new programmes for scaleup support which are UKSPF-funded. 

The Business Productivity & Digitisation Grant supports step changes in scaleups’ productivity and digital innovation. Capital or revenue grant funding is targeted at helping scaling companies overcome barriers to productivity by improving how they capture and measure productivity gains. Grants provide up to 50% of funding for projects up to £24,999. The Low Carbon Project supports scaleups to identify, fund and implement low carbon improvements.

In addition, South Yorkshire scaleups have access to support from a team of specialist growth advisers. Advisers give tailored support on a range of key business areas including organisational diagnostics, strategy and leadership, productivity, sales and marketing, and digital IT solutions. This includes sector specific scaling support covering retail, culture, creative, digital, financial and innovation. 

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.

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


Between 2019 and 2023 the ERDF backed RISE programme has supported more than 225 scaling businesses to advertise 438 graduate jobs. In addition, over 100 grants were awarded to support businesses with their first graduate hire.


In collaboration with Metro Dynamics, SYMCA is writing a Growth Plan which will build on its Strategic Economic Plan by updating its evidence base using insights from the 2023 Driving Economic Growth course. It will focus on the region’s comparative advantages, how they can be exploited, what interventions could be actioned, plus explore what levers could be utilised to implement regional industrial policy ideas. 

In addition, having attended the Driving Economic Growth course earlier this year, the SYMCA are now putting into place their action plan. Acceleration and innovation are core deliverables for SYMCA scaleup support, with future programmes focused on developing skills in leadership and management, business development, funding and finance, as well as sales, marketing and digital. Furthermore, increasing innovation in order to help businesses remain competitive, enhance market share or enter new markets is also key. These programmes of activity are currently under development and will be launched in 2024. 

A new South Yorkshire Investment Zone funded cohort programme will further support scaleups in key target sectors, and focus on R&D activity and innovation support.

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 Yorkshire & the Humber.


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 the South Yorkshire area have a low density of scaleups, and 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 Combined Authority stand compared to the rest of the UK: 3 of the 4 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 3 of the 4 local authorities have a below 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: 3 of the 4 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 2 of the 4 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.