TechUK launches Scale-up Group to support fast-growing firms

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Following the launch of the government's Scale-up Sprint initiative earlier this month, TechUK has launched its own Scale-up Group.

The tech trade association has identified more than 100 companies within its membership that meet the OECD definition of a scale-up, and will soon be inviting them to join. 

"The group will be a focal point for techUK’s engagement with government, the opposition, government agencies such as the British Business Bank and National Infrastructure Bank, as well as private investors, to provide an enhanced level of support to some of our fastest growing companies," it said.

The companies it plans to invite have grown their revenue more than 20% per year for at least the last three years, and are located across the UK – although, predictably, London features heavily in the list. Most were founded after 2014, with a significant proportion founded between 2016 and 2020.    

While most of these firms are operating in the cyber security, fintech, artificial intelligence (AI) and data infrastructure industries, the group also contains a wide range of companies across the semiconductor, payment, health tech, and quantum sectors. And while the vast majority are SMBs with 250 staff or fewer, 13 companies in the group have more than 250 employees.  

"In total our scale-ups employee 11,000 people across the UK. They have seen a huge increase in headcount, more than doubling the number of staff employed since 2019," said TechUK. "If trend growth can be supported, TechUK's scale-up members could employ over 20,000 people in the next few years." 

The new government support package was launched by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) earlier this month, with a pledge to make the UK a “scale-up powerhouse”.

It includes a new Scale-up Forum aimed at allowing UK tech scale-ups to help co-design the government's future business policies, as well as a science and tech-focused scale-up support service targeting 20 of the UK’s most promising scale-ups with government support.

A new regulatory support service is designed to help science and tech companies to navigate UK regulation and innovate with greater certainty, while DSIT will make data held by government more accessible to scale-ups.

"Scale-ups have an outsized contribution to the UK economy - they make up just 1% of SME firms, but account for 8% of SME employment and 22% of SME turnover, according to an analysis from the Social Markets Foundation.  Supporting scale-ups is seen as a key economic growth opportunity for the UK and the route to developing future globally leading companies in science and technology.," said TechUK.  

"With the right support, techUK’s scale-ups members have the potential for significant growth, with techUK analysis on Data City estimating an average headcount growth rate of 36.6% for the group and the potential to reach over £2 billion in turnover in the next few years."

TechUK says that it will approach those members it has identified as suitable for the group, but that any other interested members should get in touch.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.