Skip Navigation Links
28 March 2019

380 Dorset Companies Gain ScaleUp Recognition

380 Dorset Companies Gain ScaleUp Recognition

The number of fast-growing ambitious businesses with leaders hungry for success is increasing across Dorset – new insights from the ScaleUp Institute reveal.

There are now 380 companies in the region that meet the definition of scaleup because they have increased turnover or employment by more than 20% annually. Dorset scaleups are employing a total of 30,000 staff and their turnover is worth £2.2 billion. This is according to new research by the ScaleUp Institute based on the latest 2017 ONS data.

In the area, the top five scaleups by employment growth are McCarthy & Stone, Lush, 4Com, Wyatt Homes and Agincare, while the top five for turnover growth are Holton Homes, C. Smart Agricultural Services, Bourne Group, Osprey and Wyatt Homes.

Across the UK there are over 36,000 scaleups, an increase of 3.7% from 2016.

ScaleUp Institute Chief Executive Irene Graham said: “Scaleups are the engine drivers of local economies; they are twice as innovative as large firms, employ twice as many apprentices, are twice as likely to be operating in international markets, and, significantly, they create high quality jobs.

"Their aspirations remain high. According to our recent ScaleUp survey eight out of ten expect to scale again in 2019, generating £1.5 billion more in turnover and creating an extra 7,000 jobs.

While they are ambitious about their growth, scaleups continue to face major challenges. In Dorset they particularly highlight access to UK markets, access to talent and access to infrastructure as key issues. They also want easier access to support from peer-to-peer networks, public sector funding for innovation and local universities.

The ScaleUp Institute notes that Dorset offers a number of services for scaleups. “This is encouraging and we will continue to monitor their impact," said Irene Graham.

Jim Stewart, Chair of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Our ambition is to double the size of Dorset’s economy over the next 20 years and scaleups will play a significant role in increasing productivity across the region. The rise in the number of scaleups is good news for the local economy. Dorset has an impressive business base and we want to ensure that they are able to achieve their growth potential. It is interesting to note the key challenges facing scaleups identified through this research - we are always keen to hear from businesses about their plans and the challenges they face. Dorset Gateway – Dorset’s central business support resource – offers a range of specific services, interventions and campaigns to help scaleup businesses grow and prosper.”

 Notes to Editors:

1. The ScaleUp Insight Report is available here:

2. A summary of the local scaleup initiatives is available in Annex 1 of our annual review, available here:

3. About the Scale Up Institute. The ScaleUp Institute is a private sector led, not-for-profit organisation focused on collaborating with policy makers, corporates, finance players, educators and Government at a local and national level. Our mission is to help the UK to become the best place in the world to grow a business as well as start one, and enable our existing high growth businesses to ‘scale up’ even further. The Institute was founded in 2015 to help the UK improve its record in scaling companies which lags behind its major competitors after evidence showed that a one per cent boost to the UK scaleup population would boost the economy by hundreds of billions. The 2018 ScaleUp Review is available here:

4. National ONS data. Scaleup businesses are defined as companies who have increased their turnover and/or employee numbers annually by more than 20 per cent over a three-year period. Nationally, the latest 2017 data from ONS shows that there are 36,510 of these businesses which is an increase of 3.7 per cent overall. The national number of scaleup companies has increased by more than one-third over the past five years. There are 35% more scaleups than in 2013, compared to GDP growth over the same period of just 9%. Scaleups generate more than £1.3trn in combined turnover. This is up 34% on 2016, and compares to a turnover of £1.9trn by all SMEs combined. They employ approximately 3.4m people across all sectors and areas of the UK economy.

5. The top five scaleups by turnover and employment growth are drawn from companies with annual turnover greater than £10.2m - the threshold for filing full accounts at Companies House.

6. Our recommendations to the scaleup ecosystem:

1: A verification process with Government should be created to allow for local and national stakeholders to verify the ‘Scaleup status’ of a business, building on the recent work of the ScaleUp Institute with Government. This should tap into datasets that combine ONS, Companies House and HMRC data points to enable stakeholders to fast track solutions to scaleup leaders. If necessary, legislation should be passed to introduce such an enquiry capability.

2: A ‘Scaleup Visa’ should be made available in communities where there are 100+ scaleup companies to enable scaleup leaders, across all sectors, to recruit the staff they need to increase their capacity to grow. The Government should make the international skills needs of scaling businesses a priority. Local authorities, education establishments, advisory and finance companies should be able to be sponsors of such.

3: Funding for local communities should continue to be tied to the effective deployment of initiatives that close the scaleup gap as well as the results and impacts that they have on the number of scaleup businesses in their area. Every local Industrial Strategy should have a scaleup pillar, including a markets access strategy and a scaleup cluster map based on currently available datasets.

4: All local communities should appoint a Scaleup Champion and develop a relationship management structure for scaleup businesses.

5: The outcomes of the Productivity Review, Shared Prosperity Fund and Comprehensive Spending Review should ensure that funding for impactful business support (whether it be mentors, leadership or networks) has a significant focus and segmentation towards our scaleup businesses, which are generators of wealth, exports and productivity to the UK economy. These Reviews should collectively ensure no gap in scaleup support provision is allowed to arise in light of the UK’s changing relationship with the EU.

6: Central Government when implementing its Export Strategy should allocate a significant portion of resources to scaleups, including supporting dedicated trade missions for scaleups. All local areas should be encouraged to set up a local exchange programme for scaling businesses, such as that developed by the Mayoral ‘Go to Grow’ campaign in London.

7: Public bodies should use the inaugural Visible Scaleup Public Procurement Index to further improve their understanding and reporting on the procurement involving UK scaleups, including scaling businesses not yet visible at Companies House.

All public bodies should improve the way opportunities are promoted to scaleup companies by significantly raising the visibility of procurement champions and ensuring their roles have objectives and measurements. The Government should continue the evolution of Contracts Finder to become a smart platform and continue to develop more scaleup specific ‘meet the buyer’ events working with local areas and build on the current work underway as regards sandbox environments.

8: Large companies should report on the level of collaboration and procurement they source from scaleup companies. Any procurement contracts with Government should require an increase in the amount of business undertaken with scaleups as part of the contracting process which should be monitored.

9: The Department for Education, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Careers & Enterprise Company should use their convening and promotional power to ensure that students at schools, colleges and universities come into contact with business leaders and that APIs to the National Pupils database and the destinations database (with suitable protections) are made available so that the impact of these interventions can be measured.

The public, private and education sector should continue to work together to close the gap on provision of high-quality flexible scaleup leadership programmes, including mentoring, peer networks and matchmaking of non-executive directors who have scaled businesses before. Better connections should also continue to be made between national programmes and local ecosystem leaders. The Small Business Charter, and other such mechanisms, should integrate an assessment of ‘scaleup engagement’ into their performance analysis.

10: Government and industry should ensure progress is made closing the finance gap for scaleup by continuing the work to implement the Patient Capital Review. Growth finance should be included as core curriculum in all local scaleup leadership programmes, enabling them to seek out and secure the most appropriate funding at each stage of their company’s growth. The status of current EU sources of funding needs to be monitored, and replaced as appropriate.

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership is a business led private and public sector partnership that aims to promote local economic growth and prosperity.  Acting as a strategic gateway to funding, Dorset LEP supports and delivers projects of long term economic benefit for all in Dorset through cross sector partnership

For more information visit the Dorset LEP


  • Dorset LEP launches COVID-19 Business Impact Survey
    03 April 2020

    Dorset LEP launches COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

    Dorset LEP launches COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

  • #AquaExpo20 inspires Dorset aquaculture
    31 March 2020

    #AquaExpo20 inspires Dorset aquaculture

    The OH20: Aquaculture Expo, hosted by Dorset LEP, took place on 4 March 2020.

  • Business support funding blog: March update
    30 March 2020

    Dorset Gateway Funding Blog

    Research and development grant funding continues and we can provide 40 hours of bid writing support

Click here to view our news archive