Explore the ScaleUp Annual Review 2023

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173 scaling businesses supported in 2023

156 early stage and scaling businesses supported through the Elevate Programme

1:£6.60 Return on Investment on the BetaDen Accelerator

£507m raised by BetaDen cohort companies


Worcestershire’s vision is to create a connected, creative and dynamic economy. This drives its strategic approach which focuses business engagement on the county’s scaleups and high-growth potential businesses. 

The area – which includes the Worcestershire Growth Hub (WGH) and LEP – works with partners including Local Government, the University of Worcester, the local Chamber of Commerce and private sector business support providers to identify and support potential scaleups.

The county’s dynamic is that of rural-urban living and the pandemic highlighted the fact that productivity is not dependent on an urban location but can be driven remotely. Leveraging digital connectivity and digitalised products is now a key driver of growth and represents an opportunity for the region’s scaleups. 

Clusters in the region are geographically focused and driven by communality of challenge, for example at the Malvern Technology Network. The region is well connected, with 10 universities easily accessible and it is home to the eighth largest Chamber of Commerce in the UK. It also has a significant population of mature entrepreneurs although there is scope to further exploit these links and leverage the experience of the ecosystem. 

Local scaleups report challenges in accelerating commercialisation of products and services and in navigating investment options. Many scaleups also report challenges with collaborative opportunities with universities and other partners due to challenges with P terms and ongoing issues with imports and exports as a legacy of Brexit. 

Worcestershire drives engagement with high-growth businesses through the WGH. This includes signposting to a suite of business support programmes to foster growth across Worcestershire scaleups, including the Bizsmart programme, BetaDen, Help to Grow and new UKSPF-funded programmes. The Hub also signposts scaleups to a range of regional and national support. 

ONS data for 2021 shows that there are 245 scaleups in Worcestershire: 90 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their employees, 200 are classified as scaleups due to rapid growth in their turnover and 45 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 -4.80 per 100,000 of population per year.


BizSmart gives scaleups tools to navigate their growth journey, increasing profits and value and making businesses easier to manage. Flight Academy, its structured scaleup system is tailored to business needs and focuses on major scaling challenges identified by the ScaleUp Institute. Learning is supplemented through an online platform offering over 30 modules and 80 supporting video tutorials.

Through SmartBoards, BizSmart offers peer to peer communities of six participants from diverse backgrounds and non-competing sectors. Structured engagement begins with four themed SmartBoost sessions covering leadership and vision along with the principles of building for value and creating a laser focus through 90-day planning. Once every quarter, members share their 90-day plans with the group. 

The BetaDen technology accelerator offers scaleups a nine-month package of support including free office space, mentoring, funding and access to a local network of business leaders. Established in 2018, BetaDen is co-located with one the UK’s first 5G testbeds at the Malvern Hills Science Park, giving businesses onsite a platform to develop next-generation technology. This year, it supported its fifth and sixth cohorts of technology entrepreneurs and recruitment for a seventh has begun. 

Help to Grow: Management is now available in Worcestershire and is delivered by the University of Worcester. The programme covers strategies for growth and innovation and equips scaleups with the practical skills and knowledge to develop employees, build business resilience, increase profits and support growth. covers strategies for growth and innovation. The first cohort began in September 2023. 

The Elevate Worcestershire programme supports early-stage and scaling businesses through one-to-one support in developing their growth strategy, and peer sessions. Specialist advisory sessions are also provided to help scaling businesses meet specific challenges including HR, Marketing and finance. Peer sessions focus on leadership and vision, creating cohesive teams and building for value. Elevate also offers targeted programmes for key sectors of the local economy including creative tech businesses and manufacturing with a focus on supply chain improvement, and digital technology and automated manufacturing. 

Financial support is also available to early stage and scaling businesses through a number of local and regional funds. Midlands Engine Investment Fund provides commercially focused finance through Small Business Loans, Debt Finance, Proof of concept and Equity Finance funds. The Malvern Hills Rural Fund and Wychavon Rural Fund offer capital grants of up to £25k to help businesses overcome barriers to growth, particularly those associated with being in a rural area. 

Earlier stage businesses can also access free one to one support from the Worcestershire Growth Hub Professional Business Advisors Programme on digital adoption, financial strategy, sustainability, marketing and communication, and strategic workforce planning. 

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


Bizsmart has supported 173 scaling business leaders, increasing their confidence, leadership capacity and ambition. Participants report better connections with other businesses and peer networks, increased confidence, leadership capacity and ambition and show a 29% average turnover increase 12 months after completing the programme.

Since its inception in 2018, BetaDen has supported more than 50 technology scaling businesses and contributed to the creation of 170 jobs, while participating companies have raised £507m in funding. There has been a 1:£6.60 return on investment and 100% satisfaction rating from participants. It also supports and grows the local technology ecosystem by hosting networking events at the Science Park and elsewhere in the county in addition to online events such as Tech Tuesday. Over 200 people have come to F2F events, and online offerings have received over 300 views in the past 12 months.


Strong relationships with commercial partners and stakeholders are critically important for future growth. The area along with the Growth Hub play a pivotal role in managing these relationships and providing local business intelligence to identify gaps in provision to inform future policy and decision making including the shape of future programmes and investment in business support.


Worcestershire will continue to identify the resource to support scaleups through tailored provision delivered through the private and public sectors. The LEP, which will be continuing its operations with the support of local partners, sees an effective ‘escalator’ of connected support with a holistic local scaleup programme as central. It will continue to harness support from national programmes to meet local needs. 

The LEP has investment from its district councils through UKSPF to deliver two further cohorts of BetaDen over 2023/24 and 2024/25, increasing its visibility and presence across the county.

The new Midlands Engine Investment Fund II, a £400m investment fund, will offer a range of commercial finance options with small loans from £25,000 and equity investment up to £5m. The new fund will cover the entire East Midlands, South East Midlands and West Midlands regions.

“Becoming part of the BetaDen ecosystem made WCC more aware of ChangeMaker 3D and meant that they could signpost us more efficiently to relevant support programmes within their portfolio… The impact of the BetaDen and POC support has been massive. Having top-up grant funding at those key points de-risked our projects.” – Natalie Wadley, ChangeMaker 3D

“BetaDen helped us work out what we needed to do. It would have taken us much longer to sort things out without the support.”- Michele Fitzpatrick, Omnia-7 (BetaDen Cohort 5.0)


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 Worcestershire 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: 5 of the 6 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by employment growth and 5 of the 6 local authorities have an above median density of scaleups measured by turnover growth.

Scaleup Trends Over Time: Needs Improvement

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 6 local authorities are above the median in terms of improving the density of scaleups by employment in their community and 4 of the 6 local authorities are below 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.