National acclaim for West of England project to encourage scale-up businesses

January 14, 2019

An innovative scheme encouraging and supporting Bristol scale-up businesses has been praised by industry experts as a role model for other parts of the country.

The ScaleUp Institute, a company which aims to make the UK the best place in the world to develop a thriving business, said the West of England Growth Hub’s appointment of a ‘scale-up enabler’ had acted as a catalyst for growth. 

The Growth Hub, run by the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), took on Briony Phillips for the role in 2017. Working with Bristol’s Engine Shed enterprise hub, the project aimed to increase the opportunities for scale-up businesses across the West of England and bring together its vibrant and diverse companies to help them grow.

This included mapping the regional ecosystem in a ‘ScaleUp Generator’, identifying existing services and programmes and categorising them against the challenges faced by growing companies, and developing a ‘ScaleUp Company Map’, which highlights 700-plus invisible scale-ups and around 100 visible scale-ups.

The scaleup enabler has also held more than 50 scale-up meetings to explore the challenges faced by growing companies.

The ScaleUp Institute’s Annual ScaleUp Review 2018 describes these at “significant achievements”, adding: “The appointment of a scaleup enabler has driven increased interest in scale-ups and helped to ensure that the support provided responds directly to the challenges that growing companies face. 

“Acting as a catalyst, the scaleup enabler has brought the local investment community together to ease access to finance and pressed the case for more local infrastructure which has led to three multi-occupancy office spaces coming onto the market in Bristol.” 

West of England Metro Mayor Tim Bowles said the ScaleUp Institute’s praise was a terrific accolade for the West of England. 

“We are an economically successful region where businesses start, grow and thrive in high numbers. As mayor, one of my priorities is to ensure they get the continuing help and support they need to grow and prosper. 

“Developments such as the ScaleUp Generator website supported through the West of England Combined Authority and the LEP are a great add-on to our Growth Hub site; offering fast-growth businesses more information on where to go for support and finance. 

“The government is also rewarding our success with a further £1.35m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to support creative businesses in the region.”

LEP chair Prof Steve West added: “It’s great to see recognition for the hard work we’ve put in to support our scale-up businesses and help them to overcome the challenges they face so that they can grow and thrive in our region and be part of the West of England success story. 

“It’s especially pleasing to receive the positive responses from businesses in the region. As well as creating better opportunities for scale-ups in the West of England, we hope that our experiences will also offer learning points for other parts of the country.” 

Briony Phillips, pictured, who is also an associate director at Engine Shed, said: “As a region with vibrant entrepreneurial activity and support, the West of England is the ideal place to innovate and pilot a new approach to scaleup support. 

“Armed with an understanding of the challenges faced by the scale-up business community and the breadth of support available, I have been able to target and help overcome specific barriers to growth such as office space availability and access to finance. To have this innovative approach celebrated by the ScaleUp Institute is a great accolade.” 

Engine Shed, which is based next to Bristol Temple Meads railway station, is a collaboration between Bristol City Council, the University of Bristol, the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership.

Its mission is to stimulate long-term economic growth by supporting business, inspiring young people to get involved and to showcase to the public and potential inward investors the exciting opportunities that exist in the region.




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