The Angel of the North
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What was 2017 like for North East scaleups, who are they and what’s being done to grow more?

Last week I was in London to attend the Scaleup Institute’s Annual Review into the health of the UK’s scaleup landscape.

The conference, held at The British Library, explored learnings from the 2017 Review and provided in-depth analysis of scaleups at a local level.

Having followed the scaleup debate for a number of years now, attended the latest review and finished reading this year’s report in its entirety, I’m now keen to further highlight what the scaleup landscape looks like in the North East.

Before we delve into further detail, it may be worth reading my introductory piece on the conference and review, where I also provide more context into what scaleups actually are, why they’re important and the role played by the Scaleup Institute.

Headline Figures

According to the latest review, and data provided by ONS, the total number of scaleups in the North East LEP area stands at 700.

With a total combined turnover of £7.8bn, these firms employ over 75,000 people in the region. However, of the 700 companies, 575 are growing turnover, 265 are experiencing employee growth and only 140 are enjoying both employee and turnover growth.

Key sectors for the region have been identified as property and construction, manufacturing and engineering, building materials and food and drink.

Fastest-growing firms

The top 5 visible scaleups by employee growth include:

  • Clayton Glass which manufactures and supplies glass for conservatory roofs and doors
  • END which sells high-end streetwear of its own creation alongside other fashion brands
  • HTL which produces equipment for sale and hire for engineering companies
  • Lanchester Wines which imports and sells wine
  • Chainbridge Steel which operates a group of steel stockholders

Sherry Coutu brought the scaleup debate to the fore in 2014, punlishing her Scaleup Report on UK Economic Growth.

The top 5 visible scaleups by turnover growth include:

  • Rinus Roofing Supplies which sells a range of roofing materials
  • Templeman Trading which sells and delivers snack food and drinks for vending machines
  • Tharsus Group which partners with companies that have developed robot-related IP
  • N B Clark which develops residential properties and provides construction services
  • Partner Construction which also provides property development services

Barriers to Growth

The top three barriers to growth in the region include Access to Talent, Access to Markets and Leadership Development.

Access to talent is a key barrier to growth and scaleups are looking for people who have grown a business before, for example through appointing non-executive directors and peer to peer networks.

Research has found that North East scaleups would also like more local support from local and regional government, as well as universities and business schools.

So what’s being done to grow the North East’s propensity for scaleups?

The North East LEP is playing an especially proactive role in furthering scaleup development in the region, with such firms now seen as vital to the North East Strategic Economic Plan.

In the immediate future, the LEP is focussing on mentoring, a new Academy for scaleup leaders and targeted provisions for manufacturing.

Growth through Mentoring will connect potential scaleups with leaders who have a track record of scaling a business.

The Scaleup Leaders Academy, delivered by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, will provide a month long learning programme. Aimed at developing more leaders and tackling barriers to growth.

Moreover, the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) will give scaleups from the sector one to one coaching and mentoring from experts.

How can I find out more?

First off, if you haven’t already, you can read the full report by clicking here. Furthermore, you can read my ’How can we stimulate the growth of scale-ups in the North East?’, following a Bdaily-hosted event with key regional staeholders earlier this year

To gain a more immediate understanding of the scaleup landscape locally, a great place to start would be Paul Lancaster’s Newcastle Scaleup Summit.

Building on the success of the 5-day ‘Newcastle Startup Week’ festival in May, Paul (pictured above, right) is putting on a 1-day event at the Live Theatre tomorrow to help people learn how to take their business to the next level. You’ll have to be quick, however, with tickets almost sold out for the event.

Paul Lancaster, Founder of Plan Digital UK, said: “The Annual Scaleup Review 2017 shows that scaleup business leaders most value locally-rooted resources to foster their growth.

“They want more local solutions tailored to their needs and more peer-to-peer networks where they can meet their counterparts.

“This is why almost all of the speakers at our ‘Newcastle Scaleup Summit’ on 23rd November are world-class but local leaders sharing how they successfully scaled their business in the North East of England and what pitfalls to avoid for anyone following their footsteps.

“With a low cost of living but high quality of life plus a highly-skilled and highly-networked digital community, we believe Newcastle is the best place to startup and scaleup a business in the UK and encourage any aspiring scaleup leaders to see for themselves tomorrow.”

Aside from the event, The North East Growth Hub - a branch of the North East LEP - would happily offer more insight on the subject and is currently working with potential high-growth businesses in the region.

Moreover, the LEP will launch Scaleup North East next year where it plans to put together an ‘A Team’ to work with scaleups and drive high growth in the region.

Finally, as ever, you can reach me at jamie.hardesty@bdaily.co.uk for more information.

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