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Scaling Up Scotland – Supercharging the next generation of scale-ups in Scotland

Showcasing the rich support ecosystem accelerating high-growth Scottish scaleup businesses.

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Scaling Up Scotland

A headline theme for this site is ‘Scale Ups’, with a view to helping support the development of more of these high-growth Scottish businesses.

As Business Leader explains in ‘What is a scale-up business and what impact do they have on the economy’, Scale Ups are “businesses that must have ten or more employees and be growing at 20% more in turnover every year, for three years.”

In Scotland the exemplar case study is of course Skyscanner, which from it’s founding in 2003 grew from three people to over 600 by 2015, ultimately selling to for $1.75 billion in 2016, the definition of a “unicorn”.

Patrick O’Brien provides this very helpful visual explainer, in a review of UK Healthcare scaleups.

Scaleup 2.0 – Supercharging the next generation of scale-ups in Scotland

As Wired writes the Scottish scale up sector is booming. They describe an interlinked ecosystem of founders, support programs and industries that provides a powerful platform for accelerating Scottish startups into scaleups.

Writing for The Herald Shepherd and Wedderburn Partner John Morrison explains further, highlighting how this ecosystem is ‘Supercharging the next generation of scale-ups in Scotland‘. Figures show that venture capital investment in the United Kingdom hit a record £26 billion in 2021, with £626.9 million of that coming in Scotland.

The Scotsman provides an ongoing category of news covering the developments of this ecosystem, reporting on the startups, spin-outs, venture deals and support programs giving it shape and power. For example a new event series is intended to help revenue-generating scalable Scottish companies that are ready for high-level growth by providing them with direct access to investors and venture capitalists.

A key initiative headlining this momentum is the Scaleup Scotland 2.0 programme, a joint venture between the Hunter Foundation and Scottish National Investment Bank.

As the Scotsman describes it will provide strategic support to high growth, scaling companies. Aimed at businesses with the potential to achieve turnover in excess of £100 million, the programme aims to raise ambition and support the development of high growth businesses as they scale up.

Alongside advice and mentoring from some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, including Sir Tom Hunter, Lord Haughey and Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis, participants will also receive strategic consultancy support. Sir Tom says:

“Scotland fundamentally needs far more ambitious scale-ups and to enable them we have to offer the right support – our economy depends on scale-ups, they are the engine of growth and prosperity so if we want to deliver a ten-year growth strategy this is one starting point.”

Practical, high value deliverables include workshops, such as one led by Opto Advisory on the banks of Loch Lomond.

It is supported by organizations such as Scotland Can Do, who describe here how it also includes a Digital Platform, which caters for an online learning version of the program.

Interestingly an excellent blueprint example of the type of technology strategy that can underpin and enable a high-growth scaleup is provided by the developers of the site, GearedApp, in this customer case study.

The depth of the Scottish scaleup ecosystem is highlighted by other complimentary initiatives. For example CivTech ran their Global Scale-Up Programme, to accelerate product roll-out of net-zero and climate change solutions for public sector organisations across the world. Lloyds Bank supports Social Enterprise Scale-ups and Scottish Enterprise also provides support services for high-growth spin-outs.

Series NavigationEnterprise Masterclass – Why startups fail? with Mark Logan, former COO of Skyscanner >>


Editor of On a mission to build a world leading Scottish digital nation.

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