PwC launches scale-up drive for UK businesses

Auditor opens schemes designed to connect SMEs with industry experts who can help them ramp up their operations and attract funds

Big Four auditor PwC is eager to put UK scale-up firms in touch with leading accelerators, investors and experts, via a series of interrelated programmes.

As the organisation announced on 23 August, the overall initiative – PwC SCALE – “hopes to provide the missing link between fast-growth start-ups and large organisations”.

This will be done “by connecting them with potential customers, industry decision-makers, investors and leading experts who can procure, partner, go-to-market, advise or invest in their businesses”.

In its announcement, PwC pointed out that there are currently around 5.3 million microbusinesses with fewer than 10 employees in the UK – accounting for 96% of all the nation’s firms.

Those businesses, it stressed, will be increasingly important for the UK’s economic growth post-Brexit.

“PwC SCALE,” the auditor said, “aims to provide support at a critical stage of a business’s growth, fostering commercial opportunities between companies post-start-up, and large organisations looking to innovate.”

As well as encompassing schemes targeted specifically at Edinburgh and the Midlands, SCALE includes programmes devoted to four, key industries: commerce, health, fintech and govtech (the latter an umbrella term for technology designed to improve government processes – for example, by digitising transport ticketing systems).

PwC UK digital private business leader Nigel Howlett said: “We recognise that the primary needs of scale-ups are to access new customers and gain further investment.

“In our SCALE programmes we help businesses become fit for scaling – then open the doors to our network, facilitating introductions and funding opportunities.”

Howlett noted: “Small businesses are an essential part of the UK economy and it’s important we do everything we can to help them prosper post-Brexit.

“We’re bringing fast-growing and ambitious scale-ups from all over together with the world’s biggest brands, in an environment that allows both sides to learn from each other and build commercial opportunities.”

He added: “Interest is extending beyond the UK, and we’re seeing increased collaboration from overseas… from our global PwC network, scale-up applicants and programme partners.”

Participants in PwC’s earlier scale-up initiatives managed to raise a total of £60m in equity within the schemes, and have since mustered a further £20m.

In addition to investment avenues, the cohorts were introduced to more than 500 relevant stakeholders, facilitating more than 70 pilot projects.

PwC’s announcement follows a recent surge of interest in the fortunes of scale-up firms and their ability to expand, as covered by The Treasurer here and here.

Find out more about PwC SCALE here.

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