Jane Imrie

Scaleup Review 2020 Highlights: Culture, optimism and creativity are at the heart of the UK SME community

This morning saw the launch of this year’s Scaleup Review from the Scaleup Institute at a virtual event.

Good Morning Scaleups welcomed the official launch of the review over a livestream, hosted by the institute and with a range of guests.

Speakers included key figures in government and the Northern Powerhouse, as well as a panel of CEOs and key figures across the UK SME community and spokespeople from the country’s various business development programmes.

The 2020 review revealed that the total number of UK scaleups is 25 per cent higher than it was in 2013. Furthermore, there were 13,965 scaleups growing by employment and 7,390 scaleups growing by both turnover and employment.

According to the review, scaleups currently generate a total turnover of £1trn – 50 per cent of the total contribution by all UK SMEs and are 54 per cent more productive than their peers.

Bdaily attended the event in order to share some of the main points from its speakers.

Government advisor Alex Hickman: Championing scaleup culture is at the heart of “building back better“

Alex Hickman, business advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, began by emphasising the government’s commitment to the UK’s scaleups. He explained that the pandemic marked a “real state of the nation moment with the scaleup economy.”

He explained the government’s stance on nurturing scaleups: “The PM is keen to build on the UK’s startup culture, and extend it into our scaleup culture.

“The UK hasn’t always done as good a job as it can in encouraging small businesses to grow into medium sized ones, and medium sized ones to grow into large.

“[But] we have some of the best businesses, the best minds, in sectors that we know are going to grow quickly in coming years, such as life sciences, AI and robotics.

“As we look ahead to life outside the EU, the more we can encourage a culture that encourages a large community of medium sized businesses… it can only be good for our prosperity.”

Chair of the Scaleup Institute Adam Hale: “Be relentlessly optimistic“

The Scaleup Institute’s chair Adam Hale expressed his happiness at being in the role for 12 months: “It’s been a year since I took on the role and I’m delighted. The Scaleup Institute is the organisation that makes scaleups ‘a thing’.”

He shared a sense of “real optimism” within the scaleup community: “The majority of scaleups are still planning to grow next year.

“One thing a recession always does is bring out the best in organisations…it gives firms the opportunity to really differentiate themselves and come through as market leaders.”

Adam succinctly shared his three tips for scaleups - as well as organisations wishing to support SME growth.

Firstly, he implored firms to segment: “Don’t treat all scaleups the same!” Secondly, he encouraged firms to engage with scaling businesses: “be proactive with the scaleups… help them with financing, people, access to market and expansion.”

Finally, Adam kept it simple by calling on businesses to simply “just scale up!” and “be relentlessly optimistic”.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership Vice-Chair Lord O’Neill: “Never let a crisis go to waste“

Serial startup investor and Northern Powerhouse Partnership vice-chair Lord Jim O’Neill highlighted the unexpected upsides of the COVID-19 crisis, which he called a “huge era and moment to build on.”

He commented that “we might actually get some productivity boost as a result of…the crisis” and that the pandemic has created “a highly conducive subjective stimulant to creativity and innovation”.

Commenting on the collaboration seen across businesses during the crisis, Lord O’Neill continued: “It would be nice to be in a world where we don’t see such intense collaborative efforts only in a crisis… it would be nice to see this as a more normal part of culture.”

Finally, Lord O’Neill responded to the government’s commitment to the growth of SMEs, saying that the pandemic provides a “moment for the government to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”

He added: “I would advise the chancellor to think very very carefully about any changes to capital gains tax.”

For more information on the Scaleup 2020 review, click here.

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