UK now home to almost 12,000 'high-growth' SMEs

22nd February 2016

The number of ‘high-growth’ small and medium-sized businesses across the UK has grown to 11,855 – reaching its highest level since the dotcom boom and the turn of the Millennium.

According to the latest analysis from the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC), a “striking number” of these fast-growth businesses are now based outside of London; although the capital continues to have the largest number of high-growth firms overall.

Excluding London, England experienced an increase of high-growth SMEs by more than a third (36 per cent), rising from 5,755 in 2009 to 2012 to 7,855 in 2012 to 2015. London itself experienced a rise of high-growth small firms by 15 per cent from 2,105 to 2,430 over the same period.

On a regional scale, Liverpool returned the biggest increase in high-growth SMEs, with 56 per cent more in operation between 2009 and 2015, from 141 to 220. Meanwhile towns and cities across the South East of England saw more “modest increases”.

Professor Mark Hart, deputy director, ERC, said: “The number of high-growth firms (HGFs) in the UK is now at its highest level in well over a decade and it’s particularly notable that both urban and rural parts of the English regions are seeing much more rapid rises in such firms than London.

“These are exactly the sort of firms we need more of in our economy, because they create a huge proportion of overall jobs relative to their small size in the business population.

“Some Local Enterprise Partnership areas appear to be creating the right environment in the recovery period for the emergence of more HGFs.

“We need to learn the lessons of what’s working to support fast-growing businesses in these areas so we can replicate it more widely.”

Irene Graham, CEO of Scale-Up Institute, who was named in the top 50 most influential people in entrepreneurship within the Smith & Williamson Power 100, said: “Scaling businesses are vital to our local economies, driving jobs, productivity and opportunity.

“Supporting these high-growth firms in their expansion is crucial. Our large corporates, financiers, universities, local authorities, advisors, and LEPs all have critical roles to play in leaning in to support scaling firms.

“We have a tremendous opportunity. Let’s make sure we are developing the skills, fostering the talent, and creating the international connections to enable the UK’s high growth firms to realise their fullest potential.”

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