Engine Shed’s approach to the global policy imperative of supporting scale up businesses was to create the unique role of “Scale Up Enabler.”
Engine Shed is committed to doing what it can to stimulate long term, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Some of that growth will come from what we call “Scaleups” – companies which have consistently high growth (either in terms of people or sales). Businesses, in fact all organisations, that grow will deliver economic growth whether directly through taxation or indirectly through employment.
Economic activity is more valuable if it lasts and is inclusive – i.e. it employs a diverse range of people. Diversity is good not only because organisations run better with diversity – at all levels in the organisation – but encourages employers to tap into communities they might otherwise not, which then has wider positive effects. So it makes sense that we do what we can to create a business environment where it is easier for organisations to grow, or scale up.
We work in partnership with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and the Growth Hub (the online resource for helping businesses find that support that they need) to employ a ‘Scaleup Enabler’ for the region.
This project inputs directly into the Growth Hub which helps to support Scaleup businesses – in fact we see the Growth Hub as the prime ‘point of contact’ for Scaleup businesses in the area.
What does this mean in practice?
Briony Phillips has been employed since June 2017, initially full-time and, since June 2018 as 50% of a broader role as Scaleup Enabler and Associate Director for Engine Shed. In June 2018 she mapped out three priorities for the scaleup work.
- To invigorate the investment ecosystem in the region and improve access to finance – we run the Quarterly Investment Briefing (with support from Smith & Williamson, TLT LLP and KPMG) and build the UKBAA Angel Hub, we facilitate the Investor In Residence service at Engine Shed.
- To inspire founders and aspiring scale ups – we share inspiration through a series of Scaleup Briefing events and a growing bank of case studies. We support peer to peer networks.
- To invigorate and build the profile of this region as a home for successful scaleup companies – we 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 make support more accessible.
To read more about this work, and our activities, you can explore the Scaleup Generator website which was launched in August 2018: www.scaleupgenerator.co.uk. We would hate to do this in a silo and Briony is keen to hear from anyone about challenges, barriers and opportunities for creating a better business environment, for organisations to scale up. Briony works openly as much as possible, you can follow her work via twitter @BrionyPhi1 or LinkedIn
We work closely with the ScaleUp Institute in London on this project – and they have some useful context here.
This work is only possible thanks to an initial experiment from June 2017 – June 2018 run by Engine Shed, Business West, The University of Bristol and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). This work explored the barriers, and gaps, in our business “ecosystem” particularly for those businesses experiencing or contemplating high-growth. We focused particularly on the availability of office space and of investment in the region as these were identified as priorities by founders and leaders we spoke to.
The outputs and story of the first 12 months of this work is illustrated in our Scale up Yearbook, published in August 2018 to tell the story of the Scaleup Enabler’s work and opportunities for the future.
This work has led to the following discrete projects – detailed via the links below.
- In Residence Services
- The Bristol Angel Hub in partnership with UKBAA
- Quarterly Investment Briefing sponsored by KPMG, Smith & Williamson and TLT Solicitors
- West of England Growth Map
- Scale-up Generator Website
CURRENT STATUS (Nov’19): Having been featured in the 2019 Scaleup Review (again) we are keen that this role continues. Briony Phillips has now moved to RocketMakers in Bath where she will be continuing much the ‘enabler’ role for the scaleup ecosystem. Engine Shed is delighted that our invention of this role is not only being seen as an exemplar response to driving economic growth (and being adopted around the UK as a model) but is being picked up by the private sector. The University of Bristol is in discussion with RocketMakers to ensure that the Scaleup Generator website and content (including access to the map data) continues to thrive under the stewardship of RocketMakers in the interests of the West of England Economy.