Scaleup Index: Only 4% of UK High-Growth Firms Have a Female Founder

Whilst UK new industrial strategy gets broad welcome from business leaders, media report, a recent study by reseach house Beauhurst and The Scaleup Institute examines ‘visible scaleups’ in the UK, enterprises with average annualised growth greater than 20% per annum, over a three year period, with at least 10 employees at the start of the observation.

The majority of scaleups are more than 20 years old.

Among main findings, only 4% of scaleups have a female founder, and only 31% have a female executive, but 47% have at least one female director. However, only 18% of all directors at scaleups are female.


From an equity point of view, 623 out of 3856 visible scaleups do use equity whereas top equity investors by deals into visibile scaleups in the period between 1 November 2011 and 30 September 2017 do not include any equity crowdfunding platform.


From an equity investment perspective, 483 equity deals are reported in the same period worth £7.04 billion equity investment or £16.4 million on average. In this context, 2017 has been a record year for investment into scaleups by amount, with over £1.5 billion invested across 44 deals.

announced equity deals

Despite their infrequency, deals worth more than £50m account for the majority of investment into scaleups whereas deals worth between £2m and £5m are surprisingly frequent.

key figures

London dominates the UK with 21% of the scaleup population while Birmingham (50) and Leeds (68) are the two cities reporting the highest number of of scaleups outside London (803).

The majority of scaleups operate in non-technology sectors. Most will use technology but few are creating it. 1,358 (35%) of scaleups sell services to other businesses. In particular, within the Professional services sector, the combined Consumer/Business banking & financial services sub-sector has the largest number of operating scaleups, with 198.

top level sectors

The Scaleup Institue Ceo, Irene Graham, commented:

Scaleup companies are vital to the strength of the UK’s economy. The Scaleup Index shines a spotlight on a particular segment of the UK landscape that is adding billions to the economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs. We can only effectively support these companies if we know who they are, where they are, and what they do. To this end, we are pleased to work with Beauhurst in creating the Scaleup Index which shines a spotlight on a particular segment of the UK’s scaleup landscape that is adding billions to the economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Find out more here.