techUK creates new Scale-up Group to support the UK Government’s Scale-up Sprint initiative

By identifying over 100 high growth companies within the techUK membership we will work with DSIT to develop business support and policy to scale fast growing UK tech companies.

On 16 January the Secretary of State for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) launched a new Scale-up initiative aimed at supporting the UK’s most promising and fastest growing tech companies.  

Scale-ups are high growth businesses defined by the OECD as companies with average annualised growth greater than 20% per annum, over a three-year period.  

The UK has developed a strong start-up ecosystem but as companies begin to scale they face barriers over access to finance, access to talent, challenges around infrastructure and building a strong investment case.  

Scale-ups have an outsized contribution to the UK economy, they make up just 1% of SME firms, but account for 8% of SME employment and 22% of SME turnover according to an analysis from the Social Markets Foundation.  

Supporting scale-ups is seen as key economic growth opportunity for the UK and the route to developing future globally leading companies in science and technology.  

The Government’s Scale-up support package:  

To support this key part of the economy DSIT launched a new support package focused on UK scale ups. techUK worked closely with the Department on this new support package, including:  

  • A new Scale-up Forum: aimed at brining UK tech scale-ups into the heart of Government to help co-design new business policies. 
  • A science and tech focused Scale-up support service: to be started as a pilot the support service will target 20 of the UK’s most promising scale-ups with targeted support from government to help them unblock barriers to growth.
  • UKRI Scale-up declaration: a new declaration by UKRI to businesses which sets out a commitment to support firms of all sizes to invest in the innovation they need to scale into the success stories of tomorrow.
  • A new regulatory support service: specifically designed to help science and tech companies to navigate UK regulation and innovate with greater certainty. 
  • Access to data: DSIT will make data held by Government more accessible to scale-ups, including data that will give UK scale-ups enhanced insights to plan their growth.
  • A scale-up sprint: acting on recommendations in techUK’s UK Tech Plan the Secretary of State announced a new scale-up policy sprint that will take a test and learn approach to new business support in close collaboration with science and technology scale-ups.  

techUK’s scale-up group:  

techUK has already begun working with DSIT to implement the new scale-up support package.  

To support this and to provide a stronger route for techUK’s scale-up members to feed into DSIT’s Scale-up forum, advice service and policy sprint techUK has identified over 100 companies within our membership who meet the OECD definition of a scale-up. We will be inviting these companies shortly to join a new scale-up group.  

The group will be a focal point for techUK’s engagement with Government, the Opposition, government agencies such as the British Business Bank and National Infrastructure Bank, as well as private investors to provide an enhanced level of support to some of our fastest growing companies.  

techUK members should reply to our invitation to join the group or reach out to the team below to register your interest.  

techUK’s scale-up members in numbers:

techUK has identified over 100 companies within our membership who are defined as Scale-ups by the OECD. These companies have grown their revenue more than 20% per year for at least the last three years.  

Where and who are they? 

techUK’s scale-up members are based all across the UK. While there is a sizable cohort in London techUK’s scale-up members are also based across the English regions, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The biggest hubs for techUK scale-ups outside of London are in Bristol, Leeds, Reading, Birmingham and Oxford. 

The majority of the group were founded after 2014 with a significant proportion founded between 2016 and 2020.  

Our scale-up members include a number of companies founded and led by woman as well as 47 female directors across the group.  

What do they do? 

techUK’s scale-up members cut across a range of subsectors in UK tech. While the majority of activity is in cyber, fintech, AI and data infrastructure, the group contains a wide range of companies across the semiconductor, payment, health tech and quantum sectors. 

How many people work for techUK Scale-ups:  

The vast majority of our scale-ups are SMEs (with 250 staff or less) however 13 companies in the group have over 250 employees.  

In total our scale-ups employee 11,000 people across the UK. They have seen a huge increase in headcount, more than doubling the number of staff employed since 2019. If trend growth can be supported techUK’s scale-up members could employee over 20,000 people in the next few years.  

How much have they grown by?  

techUK’s scale-up members had an estimated total turnover of £1.4 billion in 2022. In terms of investment our scale-up members have raised around £2 billion of private investment according to Dealroom. The group benefited from significant funding rounds in 2020 and 2021.  

The group has won over £100 million in Innovate UK grants across 34 successful bids. A large number of successful bids were completed in 2023.

Future growth:  

With the right support techUK’s scale-ups members have the potential for significant growth with techUK analysis on Data City estimating an average headcount growth rate of 36.6% for the group and the potential to reach over £2bn in turnover in the near future.  



Neil Ross

Neil Ross

Associate Director, Policy, techUK

Ed Bevan

Head of SME Engagement, techUK

Oliver Alderson

Oliver Alderson

Policy and Public Affairs - Team Assistant, techUK