Life after the experiment – Scale up Enabler part 2

It’s been a little too long since my last regular Scale up Enabler update so here I am, making up for lost time and sharing the latest news in West of England scale up land. For those of you that missed the memo, in June 2018 Engine Shed made the role permanent, with some initial support from WECA (The West of England Combined Authority). This marked the start of a new era in which I work 50% on all things scale up (more on that later) and 50% as Associate Director for Engine Shed. The latter role sees me coordinate and support the project work that we undertake, explore how we articulate our social impact and invest into gathering intelligence and building our profile as a region. One of the priority project areas for Engine Shed focuses on the company and economic growth in the region and this role offers the perfect marriage of this work.

In the initial project, from June 2017 – June 2018 and supported by The University of Bristol, Business West, WECA, as Scale up Enabler I focused on understanding and articulating the challenges faced by scaleup companies locally. I used this intelligence to prioritise a mapping exercise of the organisations, services and programmes that exist to support scale up companies and to identify the gaps in this provision and the areas of greatest need. Subsequently I focused my efforts around office space availability, access to finance and leadership capacity. If you’re a detail person, you can read more about the progress I made and what that means in the Scaleup Yearbook which was published in August this year.

For those of you happy with the headlines, in short, I reflected on my progress and realised that the office space issue has started to self-correct with the arrival of three new grow on office spaces in the region. So, leaving the office space availability campaign to one side, I identified three priority areas for my work as Scale up Enabler in the coming months to:

  • Facilitate greater investment activity in the region and improve access to finance – we will run the Quarterly Investment Briefing (with support from Smith & Williamson, TLT LLP and KPMG) and build the UKBAA Angel Hub, we will facilitate the Investor in Residence service at Engine Shed.
  • Inspire founders and aspiring scale ups – we will share inspiration through a series of Scale up Briefing events and a growing bank of case studies. We will support the development and availability of peer to peer networks.
  • Invigorate and build the profile of this region as a home for successful scale-up companies – we will share resources, data and maps to expose the great work that happens here and we will gather and share intelligence to minimise duplication and maximise collaboration. We will make scale up support more accessible.

I’ll be continuing with the values and approach that I developed in the first year – working openly and collaboratively to bring people and information together and enable collaboration so that our region can build its profile as a great place to scale a business as well as to start one.

Since June this year, I’ve been busy creating and publishing some tools to help us all to better understand and expose the scale up activity, and to share our learnings with other regions and countries. To name a few examples that might be useful to you: 

  • – a website which includes a map of all the support that I’ve found for scale up founders which I have organised according to challenge areas. It also includes a map of nearly 800 scale up and aspiring scale up companies to help us understand and showcase this community more effectively. For those of you that have followed my work to date, I have created challenge pages to bring together all my insights into the issues faces by fast growth companies in the region, and a particular page to highlight the investment options available locally.
  • West of England Growth Map – inspired by an example from Sacramento and the London tube map, this summary of the 56 most mentioned entrepreneurial support organisations looks great framed in the office and comes with an augmented reality app built by our friends at Rocketmakers.
  • Scale up Yearbook – a 16-page summary which explains the approach that I took to my first year as Scaleup Enabler and highlights some of the results and my next steps.
  • Scale up One-page Summary – to help organisations and individuals understand what a scale up is and where to find them.

And so that brings us to Scale up Month – we’re building on its success last year and we have designated November as a month to focus on Scale up activity and to celebrate scaling companies in the region. We will highlight and run all sorts of initiatives so keep an eye out for…

  • Scale up Briefing: Keeping people happy – RSVP now to join us on Thurs 15th Nov for an afternoon event in which we’ll hear how Ultrahaptics, Pukka Herbs and Mr B & Friends have scaled their organisational culture.
  • Top tips for Angel Investment lunch and learn session (Mon 26 Nov, midday) hosted by UK Business Angels Association at Engine Shed for angel investors new and old.
  • New scale up case studies highlighting scale up stories in the region written in partnership with TechSPARK.
  • Exciting news from the Scale up Institute Annual Review and about new Scale up Programmes launching in the region.

And if you’re in charge of a fast growth, scale up company in the region, and you would like to have a chat, please get in touch –