Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

Select a section to expand and explore this year's review..

West Yorkshire Combined Authority


Scaleup support in West Yorkshire’s ecosystem is currently evolving with the Combined Authority’s Business Support Service taking a more central role. There is also a shift from  sector focused to sector agnostic support, exploring opportunities in the ecosystem which will implement scaleup insight research to inform the shape of future support. 

In line with West Yorkshire’s Employment Framework the region is seeking to attract and maintain skilled people, good  jobs and strong businesses. Moving forward, the region is developing its economic strategy, the West Yorkshire Plan, and this will further define the Mayoral Authority’s role in delivering scaleup support. The new sector agnostic approach will, however, facilitate a more agile and responsive support offer focused on addressing key barriers.  

Connecting with the wider regional ecosystem is central. This includes collaboration with academia through the region’s seven higher education providers and with the private sector where partnerships with programmes such as the NatWest Accelerator that supports and empowers UK entrepreneurs to scale their businesses to the next level are pivotal. This includes working across the ecosystem to establish a shared methodology and to articulate a single offer to scaleups.

ONS data for 2021 shows that there are 935 scaleups in the West Yorkshire Combined Authority: 360 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 765 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 190 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 -2.83 per 100,000 of population per year.


Scaleups across the West Yorkshire ecosystem can access a range of structured support including:

Made Smarter is tailored to early stage and scaleup manufacturers who want to adopt innovative new Industry 4.0 technologies. Focused primarily on productivity it also features a wider package of support including leadership, management, digital tools and intensive technical advice as well as capital investment.

Foresight West Yorkshire SME Investment Fund is a £20m programme providing equity and debt investments of up to £2m to businesses to ambitious and scaling companies in West Yorkshire to support economic growth and job creation. Managed by Foresight Group LLP, it is targeted at growth companies who demonstrate strong growth potential and have the potential to become Net Zero by 2038.

Leeds University’s Exceptional NED training programme is designed equip experienced business executives with the skills and knowledge to become an effective Non-Executive Director (NED). It involves a blend of workshop sessions and three month placement as a NED at a local scaleup. On completion, participants are awarded a certificate and the opportunity to apply to join the national NED network.

A mix of tailored support to boost growth and develop early-stage ambitious businesses under three years old is available through AD:VENTURE. This includes financial and mentoring support as well as intensive support and guidance on key themes such as innovation, product development and access to talent.

Creative Catalyst – a £1.5m scheme designed to support the growth of the creative sector in the region, funded by the Leeds City Region Indie TV and Film Development Fund. A new Creative Catalyst: Export Programme is currently being developed to support international trade for businesses in the creative industries.

The Create Growth Programme is designed to support the development of creative businesses with high-growth potential. The programme is aimed at driving innovation and investment not only through investor networks, but also by connecting businesses across regions, building new supply chains and creating pathways for future founders.

Businesses with high growth potential can also access growth support through regional delivery of Help to Grow: Management. This supports leaders to develop a bespoke business growth plan with tailored support from one-to-one mentoring and peer learning.

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.


Collaboration is crucial to supporting scaleups and this is the responsibility of stakeholders across the ecosystem. Cultivating and developing the ecosystem of support is key to remaining rounded and agile to scaleup needs. 


Eight new projects have been chosen to be funded through UKSPF within the ecosystem. These will be delivered across West Yorkshire from Autumn 2023 to March 2025 and include scaleup support aimed at exports, innovation through the creation of new products, processes and services and the adoption of new digital technologies along with better knowledge transfer. A new pilot project will explore and encourage alternative business models. All projects will have a strong focus on equality, diversity and inclusion.

In addition, following participation in the Driving Economic Growth course earlier this year, new scaleup provision in 2024 will be agile and targeted. This includes support for under-represented groups including women – only five percent of West Yorkshire scaleups are female-led – and for ethnic minority entrepreneurs. Emerging support will also focus on sectoral barriers including those experienced by the health tech and creative sectors. West Yorkshire is also collaborating with its regional growth hub cluster partners to better understand the scaleup ecosystem across Yorkshire & the Humber and to develop a shared methodology for scaleup 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 West Yorkshire area have a moderate density of scaleups, and the trend between 2018 and 2021 reveals the following:

Scaleups by Density: Mixed

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 5 local authorities have a below median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 4 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.