12 ways Britain can ‘solve the scale-up problem’

New report from Oxbridge Business Schools has identified key aims that could lead to fundamental change in helping UK entrepreneurs and start-ups

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A new report which identifies the difficulties businesses have “in leaping from start-up to gazelle” and solutions to address this “scale-up challenge”, has been published today using research from Oxford Saïd Business School and Cambridge Judge Business School.

The Barclays-backed Scale-up UK: Growing Businesses, Growing our Economy report looks at key issues impacting UK entrepreneurs today such as access to finance, leadership skills, and business mentoring, and has named investment and management as the two biggest areas that businesses and industry need to overcome.

Identifying scale-ups as companies that have achieved growth by 20% annually for the last three years – using Skyscanner as a case study – the report offers 12 solutions to ‘solve the scale-up problem’ and encourage more start-up businesses to scale.

These ‘solutions’ being the following:

  1. Start-ups must have a will to grow and commit to ambitious growth
  2. Start-ups need to build a strong and broad team, through top management skills
  3. Start-ups need to establish partnerships with companies that will collaborate with them and help to share in their success
  4. Start-ups need to develop effective management systems that allow growth in employees and profitability
  5. Start-ups should identify core competencies
  6. Start-ups should articulate competitive strengths and areas to spread into new markets

In order to foster finance for start-ups, the report suggests needs for:

  1. An increase in UK venture capital (VC) funds that are sufficiently large enough to finance scale-ups.
  2. Growth in the number of experienced UK investors with sector expertise and access to overseas networks
  3. A UK venture debt market to compliment equity funding
  4. Establishing the London Stock Exchange as the leading pan-European stock market for scale-ups
  5. Developing new approaches for creating liquidity in private company shares
  6. Collecting systematic data about the financing of scale-ups

Commenting on the report , Sherry Coutu, chair of The Scale-up Institute, said:

“We all have a role to play in addressing the challenges that scale-ups face from attracting new employees with the right skills; to getting the right finance at the right time; to building internal leadership capacity and processes that support scale.

“The needs on talent and skills are ever greater and we must continue to work with our schools, universities and local authorities to ensure students are attaining the right education for the jobs of tomorrow. It is also very critical that larger companies seek to help these growth businesses secure contracts both at home and abroad – such support is vital to a business seeking to scale.

“We have terrific, ambitious and committed business leaders in the UK and, as this work of Barclays, Saïd and Cambridge Judge reinforces, working together we can help these business leaders achieve even greater scale.”

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