Making sense of Scale-up Support Programmes

In the last 6 months a whole new world of Scale-up support has sprung up as if from nowhere. This is very much in response to the growing rhetoric and recognition of the power and potential of fast-growth businesses to not only strengthen but also grow our economy regionally and nationally.

In my experience, Scale-up founders are a discerning bunch. They are busy building the plane, flying it and finding funding for the next fleet so you won’t find them researching the latest programme of support or attending a speculative marketing event very often. And this means that support programme designers have had to be jolly creative and that’s reflected in the varied list below. In my conversations with them, scale-up founders describe an enthusiasm for more peer to peer support and opportunities to develop their leadership style/capability – many of these programmes will help with just that and some, with much more besides.

As Scale-up Enabler, I also spend time fielding requests for scale-up founder marketing support – whether for the latest case study project or for the next big scale-up programme. So to save myself some trouble, and to help raise awareness of the fantastic array of support that’s available, I thought I’d spend some time putting all the programmes that are currently on the table in one place, and making some attempt to explain their USP – in my eyes.


Barclays Scale-up Programme – partnering with University of Cambridge Judge Business School. Recruiting 20 scale-up founders nationally to participate in 6 workshops after an ‘on-site diagnostic visit’ to understand the company priorities. The programme helps participants to ‘formulate, articulate and implement a growth plan for their business.’

Criteria: Scaleup potential, positive cashflow, Barclays customer, great team

Cost: £7000

Launch event in Bristol 27 February 2018 15:30.

Business West Scale-up Coaching Grants – financial support to enable you to work with a business coach or leadership development.

Criteria: SMEs in the West of England looking to grow/plan to create new jobs

Cost: Grants are 40% matched funded up to £2,500 (scale-up invests £6,250)

Cranfield Business Growth Programme – Development programme for owner-managers and their businesses centred entirely on the reality of your business – challenges, your opportunities, future goals and ambitions. 10 days contact time.

Next course 18 May

Criteria: Companies in operation for 3+ years, staff of 5 to 50, turnover between £0.5m and £20m

Cost: £12,000

Entrepreneurial Spark SCALE – A six-month programme focused on scaling up your already successful business.

Criteria: Businesses with an annual turnover of £200,000+ a year and/or have secured £150,000+ investment or funding.

Cost: None

Open now for applications.

Enterprising West of England – Workshops and 1:1 sessions organised by partner organisations across the region including Business West, Cool Ventures, North Somerset Enterprise Agency and Get Set for Growth.

Criteria: SME in West of England looking to create jobs

Cost: None

Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses – 4 month programme in which participants identify and execute a personalised growth plan to scale your venture, create employment and expand to new markets. Includes 7 day residential. Next application deadline 14 May.

Criteria: 3 yrs+, 5-50 employees, turnover £250k+, no recent management education, primary owner should apply.

Cost: None

Innovation for Growth – funding scheme which supports SMEs in the West of England to develop innovative products, technologies, processes and services, with grants of £10,000 to £75,000.

Criteria: Undertaking research and development activity that will create jobs through development of innovative products, technologies, processes or services.

Cost: Grant covers up to 35% of project costs, company picks up the bill for 65%

Inspire Elite – peer to peer network offering shared learning experiences, visits, educational experiences and bespoke support. The Elite programme members also receive application guidance and support for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses programme as they are the South West Partner.

Criteria: Your business must have ambitions to grow and have an annual turnover in excess of £250,000

Cost: c. £1000p per annum

Launch event: Tuesday 6 March 2018 08:30 Learn more here 

London Stock Exchange Elite – 18 month programme of structured engagement developing and supporting ambitious private companies through their next stage of growth. Run in partnership with Imperial College Business School.

Criteria: Willing to commit at the highest level (CEO/CFO); generating  >£5m revenue; able to demonstrate progress to date and growth potential.

Cost: €20,000

Oracle Scaleup Ecosystem – a non-residential, virtual-style program designed for startups, venture capital, and private equity portfolio companies to enable hypergrowth and scale. The 6 month programme offers mentoring, workshops/curriculum, credits to leverage Oracle Cloud and help building revenue through Oracles 400k enterprise customer base.

Criteria: Tech startups in growth phase or positioning for hypergrowth.

Cost: None

PwC SCALE – a 10wk programme which blends workshop content, tailored support and flagship events. These three key events bring local executives, investors and customers to engage with participating companies. SCALE SW is currently underway with 12 participating companies.

Criteria: Enterprise companies with validated products, finance and scalability.

Cost: £5,000

SETSquared Scale-up Programme – helps scale-ups secure R&D projects with Universities to help accelerate your growth. supports scale-ups to win R&D grants, raise investment, access customers and recruit talent. Four sectors: digital innovation, advanced manufacturing, health & wellbeing and environment and sustainability.

Criteria: Tech scale-ups growing 20% year on year with 10+ employees; member or alumni of SETsquared Bristol or Bath incubators

Cost: None initially

Launch event 1st March 0830

TechCity UpScale – 6-month programme of workshops, mentoring sessions and peer-to-peer learning that unlocks the key to scaling.

Criteria: Series A startups or £500k revenues; demonstrate month on month growth; UK HQ.

Cost: None

Innovate2Succeed – Innovation Specialists will provide up to 7 days of one-to-one tailored strategic support to help you identify barriers to growth and innovation in your business

Criteria: initial assessment of your current innovation and growth potential

Cost: None

If you’re interested to find out what support is available beyond the realms of programmes with a start and end date, check out the 300+ pins on my Ecosystem Map. Each pin represents a different service, product, organisation or initiative that exists to support fast growth businesses. Pins are organised broadly by the challenges of growing quickly and are all relevant to scale-ups that are located in the West of England.

Story Telling Initiatives:

There are a few organisations who are actively seeking stories about scaling up. If you would like to be profiled nationally please let me know – I’ll be developing some case-studies of my own with TechSPARK later this year and would love to have a diverse mix of founders and industries represented.

  1. Intelligent Partnership 100 Stories campaign – this is an independent research project to look at how SMEs are using human and financial capital. To be considered, you should complete the short survey on their website.
  2. British Business Bank are looking for businesses to complete a case study about their use of different types of finance. This is a quick turnaround – they need your input by Fri 2 March so drop me an email if you’d like to submit one.
  3. I regularly receive other requests – from government, the public and the private sector. If you’d like to get wind of them, please let me know and I’ll share them when I can.

This blog series tells the story of the Scale-up Enabler, Briony Phillips. Briony joined the Engine Shed team on a 1 year contract in June 2017 funded by Business West, Engine Shed, The University of Bristol and the West of England Growth Hub. This group have a shared ambition – first, to identify scale-up businesses in the West of England region and to better understand their challenges and second, to design, facilitate and support initiatives that will make it easier for businesses to scale-up more effectively – in the long term.

If your scale-up programme is missing from this list, please get in touch – my details are below.

Links and information are correct as of February 2018.

Briony – Scale-up Enabler