An innovative plan to encourage and support business to help them grow across the West of England is a role model for the country, according to industry experts.
A national report by the ScaleUp Institute heaped praise on the region after the West of England Growth Hub, run by the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership, appointed a “scale-up enabler” to bring together the region’s vibrant and diverse companies.
The ScaleUp Enabler, Briony Phillips, works with Engine Shed to increase the opportunities for scaleup businesses across the West of England.
The Annual ScaleUp Review 2018 commented: “The appointment of a ScaleUp Enabler has driven increased interest in scale-ups and helped to ensure that the support provided responds directly to the challenges that growing companies face.
“Significant achievements during the year include the mapping of the regional ecosystem in the ScaleUp Generator, identifying existing services and programmes and categorising them against the challenges faced by growing companies and the development of the ScaleUp Company Map which highlights 700+ invisible scaleups and around 100 visible scaleups.
“In addition, the Scaleup Enabler has held more than 50 scaleup meetings to explore the challenges faced by growing companies.
“Acting as a catalyst, the Scaleup Enabler has brought the local investment community together to ease access to finance and pressed the case for more local infrastructure which has led to three multi-occupancy office spaces coming onto the market in Bristol.”
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “This is a terrific accolade for the West of England. We are an economically successful region where businesses start, grow and thrive in high numbers.
“As Mayor, one of my priorities is to ensure they get the continuing help and support they need to grow and prosper. Developments such as the ScaleUp Generator website supported through the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership’ are a great add-on to our Growth Hub site; offering fast growth businesses more information on where to go for support and finance.
“The government is also rewarding our success with a further £1.35m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to support creative businesses in the region.”
Prof Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “It’s great to see recognition for the hard work we’ve put in to support our scaleup businesses and help them to overcome the challenges they face so that they can grow and thrive in our region, and be part of the West of England success story.
“It’s especially pleasing to receive the positive responses from businesses in the region. As well as creating better opportunities for scaleups in the West of England, we hope that our experiences will also offer learning points for other parts of the country.”
Briony Phillips, ScaleUp Enabler and Associate Director, Engine Shed, said: “As a region with vibrant entrepreneurial activity and support, the West of England is the ideal place to innovate and pilot a new approach to scaleup support.
“Armed with an understanding of the challenges faced by the scaleup business community and the breadth of support available, I have been able to target and help overcome specific barriers to growth such as office space availability and access to finance. To have this innovative approach celebrated by the ScaleUp Institute is a great accolade.”