Birmingham is Britain’s scaleup capital

| Beauhurst

Category: Scaleups

Last year, we published The Scaleup Index, in collaboration with the ScaleUp Institute. This organisation promotes positive policies for Britain’s fastest-growing companies. The term “scaleup” refers to companies which have experienced turnover or employee count growth of 20% year on year over three consecutive years. As such, it is a good measure of companies which are showing growth in real terms, as opposed to just raising lots of capital. These companies have clear benefits for the country, in terms of both GDP growth and job creation.

Predictably, this report revealed that London was home to the largest number of scaleups, dominated by the central boroughs of Westminster, the City, and Camden. However, London is the largest city in the UK by a considerable margin, both in terms of area and population. As such, we wanted to explore which city had the highest scaleup density. In other words, which city is home to the most scaleups per capita?

In this analysis, we looked at the UK’s main urban areas, consisting of the metropolitan counties and Greater London. We also included the metropolitan areas around Cambridge and Oxford, as two aspects of the so-called “Golden Triangle”. Our results were as follows:

Urban Area No. Scaleups Population Population per scaleup
West Midlands 372 2,897,300 7,788
Greater London 965 8,817,300 9,137
Cambridge 26 280,000 10,769
West Yorkshire 157 2,307,000 14,694
Greater Manchester 184 2,798,800 15,211
Oxford 16 244,000 15,250
Tyne and Wear 71 1,129,500 15,908
Merseyside 71 1,416,800 19,955
South Yorkshire 56 1,393,400 24,882

The results make for positive reading – since 2011, the West Midlands (the conurbation focussed around Birmingham) has seen more scaleup activity than London per citizen. This indicates that the West Midlands is more efficient in terms of producing these high-growth private companies. Furthermore, this urban area is around twice as productive as the northern Metropolitan Counties. Under this measure, Birmingham and the broader West Midlands together form the scaleup capital of Britain. 

Note: This research refers to just those companies which have “scaled-up” since 1st January 2011. We have also excluded companies which scaled whilst traded on a public market, and subsidiary companies, including those acquired by private equity firms prior to scaleup status.

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