The latest twists in Accelerator programmes

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Support for startups and scaleups: the latest new twists

Six developments all designed to enhance interactions among and between the entrepreneurs in Accelerator programmes, their mentor community, VCs and relevant corporates.

FinTech in London could hardly be more topical or more relevant; and Startupbootcamp is among the most experienced of support programmes. So what is new in their latest programme? (For a description of a recent programme, see http://wp.me/p3beJt-8W)

  • They have invited one startup to be a startup-in-residence – to add to and benefit from the experience of being in the Accelerator.
  • They are running three, yes three, mentor matching days in the first four weeks of the twelve week programme. This acknowledges that match-making is a chancy business, and that as a new business evolves its needs for help evolve too.
  • They are running a social meeting for their mentor community, where an inspiring entrepreneur will share his/her story, which will also provide an opportunity for mentors to share their own experience.
  • They are holding a meeting well into the programme at which heads of innovation in this case from major financial institutions will debate how they can best work with startups – an opportunity for those present to exchange experience.
  • And they are holding regular weekly ‘Coffee Houses’ – expert gatherings for mentors to meet informally with startups to discuss their challenges in the week to come, each one focused progressively on a topic of the moment.
  • Finally, some incubators arrange a session at which a number of VCs can listen to pitches from emerging businesses so that they might keep in touch with those that interest them.

Chance meetings are well-recognised as among the best sources of support, and time is so vital to every young business that anything that can increase the chances of a good chance is valuable.

See also ‘Design you own Accelerators’ http://wp.me/p3beJt-K.

John Whatmore, October 2016.

The latest support programmes for SMEs

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Support programmes for young ventures in incubators

New support programmes for scaleups are of a design that could easily be replicated in incubators and their ilk, and could help generate big steps in growth.

Incubators have been essentially providers of low cost accommodation for small businesses, but they are coming under pressure to be more active in the support of their growth and development.

The concept of the Accelerator has illustrated what can be achieved by orchestrated forms of support – at least for startups. And the recent Barclays report has suggested that some of those approaches might also be usefully applied to Scaleups, with the aim of nurturing some great businesses of the future.

New programmes for Scaleups (such as the Judge Institute’s Growth Builder programme (http://wp.me/p3beJt-fn) and the RBS/UCL Business Growth programme (http://wp.me/p3beJt-dK) have taken the form of periodic meetings for CEOs, usually monthly meetings over twelve months, and consisting of mutual discussions of their problems and opportunities, and learnings about the latest developments in the most relevant topics, such as the latest uses of social media and the latest sources of finance. The Belgian Plato programme (http://wp.me/p3beJt-dH) (widely franchised in other countries) and the Vistage programme from the US (http://wp.me/p3beJt-cb) now popular in the UK – both for cohorts of senior executives, both use a very similar format.

What is common to these programmes is:

*         the exchanging of experience

*         their regular but occasional meetings

*         their intimacy and confidentiality

*         their ability to bring together individuals with common issues or experience.

And surprisingly, their addictiveness.

Their participants are usually carefully matched – for sector, technology, markets, size or maturity.

Young businesses with high growth potential will often be found in incubators, co-working spaces and innovation centres, where it would not be difficult to set in motion programmes of this kind, which could give a major boost to their participants.

John Whatmore, October, 2016

New support for startups and scaleups in East London

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New support for startups and scaleups in East London
ENTIQ’s new innovation centre in the old Olympic Park will be a great new signpost but the peloton needs more than that: a new network is needed to spur incubators and co-working spaces to develop support services like this one –  for the growing number of young businesses.

ENTIQ is the innovation consultancy behind a new Innovation Centre on the new campus in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London. Jointly owned with an investment fund, it will provide support services for business development for: new product development – with prototyping facilities and a technology lab, entrepreneurship and business education, business-accelerator and -growth programmes, and back office and professional support.

                                                          Focus on local threads 

The Innovation Centre’s aim is to establish a cluster of up to 500 members and organisations as at Tech City in Shoreditch; and the Centre will work with companies big and small that are pioneering new technology in their fields, with an initial focus on Sport, Health, Fashion, Smart Cities and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Typical targets include improving engagement in sport; tools for preventative healthcare; designing intelligent and functional fabrics; applications that improve connectivity; and sustainability and mobility in urban environments.

                                                 This will be a gee-whizz park

It is expected to be a place for experimentation, design and performance – for entrepreneurs and big businesses alike – a launchpad for British-based scale-ups and a ‘soft landing pad’ for companies coming to the UK for the first time.

With its base in London, it could make a much needed contribution to the development and commercialisation of UK technology. It will be a centre that is carefully tailored to early-stage businesses and in particular to those that are pioneering new technologies, and one that also has on hand high quality support, provided proactively.

                                      Scaleups badly need this kind of leadership

While the number of incubators and particularly co-working spaces in the UK has been growing substantially (there are probably now several thousand), few offer services to their occupants to this extent, yet they are possibly housing the unicorns of the future.

Many of these are run by individuals who have little hands-on experience of business or of business support agencies; and their links with the business community are often tenuous. ENTIQ however, was co-founded by two people who co-created Level39 – the innovation centre in Canary Wharf; and ran the Cognicity Programme for Canary Wharf Group, a 3D Fintech Lab for Dassault Systemes, and a Blockchain Lab project among other specialist innovation programmes. Claire Cockerton is a serial entrepreneur, and Eric van der Kleij had been the founding CEO of TechCity.

                                                        A very tough task

Making a success for early-stage businesses in all sorts of developing technologies in a Centre like this could well be as difficult a task as if all the students in a university were reading completely different subjects. It will require a remarkably sophisticated feat of collaborative support – to help all of the different businesses to develop and commercialise their products or services. Or else it may have a high failure rate.

With the rise in entrepreneurialism, support for startups and scaleups has got more sophisticated as Accelerators have proliferated and diversified; and Growth Builder programmes have come on the scene. With new developments in support evolving continually, there is an urgent need to help incubators and co-working spaces UK-wide to be able to offer them to their occupants.

UKBI (UK Business Incubator – the sector’s trade association) was founded some twenty years, but collapsed several years ago. The time is surely right for a new network of hothouses (incubators, co-working spaces and their ilk), that will help its members learn from one another and from outside experts about the latest practices and approaches for providing support to young businesses.

*                               *                             *

Some comparable initiatives
This will be a larger project than the Daresbury Innovation Centre (http://wp.me/p3beJt-Y), launched several years ago in the vacuum left when the bid for the new Synchrotron facility went to Harwell; Daresbury has a wider range of businesses on its campus, but without as much support; similar too to Harwell (http://wp.me/p3beJt-r), which has a large number of businesses on its site – many related to the technology of its Synchrotron, where good technical support is at least on hand; but there is scant business support; and not unlike Rocket, a Berlin funder and supporter of early stage businesses (http://wp.me/p3beJt-8U), or the newly opened Edney Innovation Centre in Chattanooga, seen by its civic leaders as ‘the gateway to the city’s command-ing new business enterprise’ (New York Times.)

See also: Design your own Accelerators: an analytical review for innovationeers – johnwhatmore.com 8 Dec 2014 http://wp.me/p3beJt-K

John Whatmore
September 2016

A new Accelerator Lab by Accenture

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A revolutionised Accelerator Lab Helping corporates to work with innovative young companies to introduce innovations in the fast-changing retail field.

Nesta’s work with P&G in 2010, where Nesta acted as the confidential intermediary for half-a-dozen startups, was a door-opener into the field of Open Innovation.

The latest such opening is a dramatic evolution of Accenture’s Fintech Lab Accelerator, where a dozen banks each provided a chaperone whose role was to help the half-a-dozen young ventures that had been brought together at Level39, to introduce their products to the relevant managers in these banks.

Where the banks faced major threats arising from new ways in which financial transactions could be made, the retail trade and brands are fighting a rearguard action to counter Amazon’s lead in online retailing; and they are doing this by majoring on

  • individualisation,
  • sophistication and
  • personalisation

In Accenture’s latest version of the Accelerator Lab, launched with a razzmattaz of a major conference on the future of retailing, complete with a store of the future, innovative businesses had been invited to enter a competition, whose winners and runners-up were then offered eight weeks together at The Trampery co-working space in Shoreditch; and the dozen major retailers (Argos, Sainsbury’s, Kingfisher, Specsavers, Dixons/Carphone – among others) who participated in the programme were invited to presentations and discussions with them over the period of their residency.

Millenial 2020 (millenial20-20.com)is a process created by Accenture for corporates in retail. It kicked off with a two-day conference – a grand gathering of over 3,000 startups, brands, retailers, and corporates encompassing four industry sectors, at which Accenture set up a store of the future, entitled The World of ME: Millenial Expectations: an inspiration playground for the consumer experience and store playground of the near future’, ‘an immersive experience that brings together a curated selection of start-ups and brands to explore millennial-driven products and services expected to influence the retail and consumer landscape of the near future.

 Will the store no longer be solely a place to purchase things, but a port of call for expertise, unique brand stories, immersive experiences and even a place to learn, create products and connect with like-minded individuals?

Accenture had invited companies to pitch their ideas for innovation to judges from the twelve participating organisations for the Accenture Consumer Innovation Awards. 170 applied and sixteen were invited to pitch – in four categories:

  • Get me into the store and spending more
  • Get me what I want and when and where I want it
  • Make ME digital on the inside, and
  • Give ME omni-personalisation

 “Ignite your senses Using all five senses, play with products and innovations curated to illuminate future scenarios we see emerging. For example…

– Experience what on-demand personalisation could mean for jewellery by trying on and designing 3D printed pieces from WonderLuk.

– For the Conscious ME millennial, brand values that align with beliefs and identity will become a given. Touch and feel a textile made from citrus peel, brought to you by Orange Fiber, one of 5 winners of the H&M Conscious Foundation’s Global Change Award.

– Experiences will start to become the product. Swipe left or right to determine your preferences and find the right food pairing to match the craft beer you select, all powered by Accenture Customer Genome and Intel.

For Accenture this was an experiment in creating processes that would support major changes in sectors – disruptions or major challenges; and so both enhance and demonstrate to potential customers their armoury of processes in the consultancy business. It is being repeated later in the year in New York and in Singapore.

Corporates, including Barclays, John Lewis, Tesco, and most notably Telefonica, have gone down the path of running their own Accelerators despite disadvantages to the startups involved. In participating in group Accelerators, including in the insurance industry, the food industry, the healthcare industry and the New Cities initiative, startups have accepted the risks that openness involved.

More an opportunity for corporates and early-stage businesses to get thoroughly acquainted than to get engaged, Accenture’s innovative new ‘immersive’ process has played on their willingness to be open and transparent. Only time will tell whether it has facilitated the development of innovations into new products or services.

John Whatmore, July 2016

Incubator evolving into Accelerator

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A small and successful University Incubator developing its support for participants

With basic and low cost office spaces, this incubator is developing into an Accelerator community – by enhancing support and its connectivity with Tech City.

Accelerator out of Incubator? The London Metropolitan University ‘Accelerator’ has spaces for 30 hi-growth SMEs – who are normally allowed to stay for no more than two years (‘it concentrates the mind’); and it provides space for the annual winners of a startup competition. It is regularly full and there is no shortage of new applicants.

The Incubator consists of offices of various sizes on three floors, with a big meeting room and two semi-balcony small rooms. There is a well-equipped kitchen, but no r&r space – for hanging out with other people. The student Accelerator has its own big communal work space.

The Incubator is ten years old. A tenant of Hackney Community College, its key asset is that its low rent enables it to offer well-priced accommodation on the edge of Tech City, and so enables occupants to make use of the connectivity there.

All Scale-ups: chosen for their good prospects – all are computer-based and all engaged in scaling up. Most of them are looking for further funding (though not yet A rounds) and for more customers, many with overseas markets as their targets. (‘Their confidence sometimes leads them to be over optimistic about raising funds; and their hirings – of CMOs – sometimes fail because they attract ‘company men’ rather than ‘hustlers’.’)

Supporting events are held, and there are occasional meetups; however there are no ‘office hours’ (regular reviews of progress and plans) and no cohort of mentors. Occupants include a patent attorney and a PR company – with their services readily available, but there are few links to serial entrepreneurs, the VC community or Angels, though there is said to be some cross-pollination among participants. But they have to make their own connections. Some members of the SMEs in the Incubator act as mentors to the student cohort.

Its success can be measured by the fact that in the last year its businesses added 115 employees, and raised £5.7 million in funding (previous year £1.4mn, and the year before £0.5mn). The success rate on exit from the Incubator is around 80%.

A student startup scheme (subsidised by the University) uses some of the space. Around a thousand students attend workshops and other events in the course of a year; and 150 applied to join this year’s Accelerator, from which a dozen are selected for 12 weeks of intensive development together, and are offered six months of free accommodation thereafter in the Incubator. (A current objective is to find funding that will support their earnings to help participants to get through to a seed round.)

Toby Kress, its cornerstone, and responsible for its direction, operation and management for the last two years, has himself been part of a successful startup. His role includes the selection of participants for the Incubator (for which he uses the help of a couple of Alumni). Approachable and readily available, he meets all the SMEs about once a month to offer help, contacts etc; and he meets his counterparts in other incubators intermittently.

To add to the support it offers, Toby has recently initiated a programme of Funding Days, at each of which one of five VCs/Angel groups gets to meet 4 or 5 of the SMEs, and this should help them to develop their funding strategies; and he is seeking to make firm contacts with well-connected people to whose networks the occupants of the incubator can then get access.

Why is it so successful? Not open-plan, with no r&r space, and few mentors or outside connections, it can only be its boss! A vital role in any incubator.

John Whatmore, July 2016

A support programme for hi-growth young ventures

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A Growth Builder programme for hi-growth ventures

At last programmes are being initiated, based on the elements of the Accelerator but provided on a periodic basis, that fill a gap in aiming to help hi-growth businesses to grow faster. Every incubator should follow suit.

Sherry Coutu CBE, serial entrepreneur and investor, identified in her report of 2014 a need to support rapidly expanding ‘scale-up’ companies to create a significant proportion of the UK’s economic growth; RBS analysis suggested an additional 238,000 jobs and £38 billion additional turnover is possible if the ‘scale up gap’ is reversed; and the 2016 Barclays Report puts its finger on specific needs concerning management and finance.

The Growth Builder programme is one of several recent responses to her call for Government, entrepreneurs, educators, investors and large corporates to work together to support these businesses, and it has been built specifically to help established British businesses that want to take on the next stage of growth.

The first cohort consists of businesses from a range of sectors, carefully picked based on existing proven successes and their potential for further growth – by a panel of esteemed industry experts. The 48 businesses will enjoy access to Government, university innovation, corporate expertise, investors and successful entrepreneurs, including programme ambassadors like Brent Hoberman (lastminute.com, made.com, Founders Forum and Founders Factory), Sherry Coutu CBE (Founders4Schools), Sarah Wood (Unruly) and Ed Wray (Betfair), among others.

The programme which has been designed by UCL, Natwest, UKTI, BT, PIE Mapping, Fast Growth Forum, the UK Business Angels Association and Loughborough University, consists of 12 monthly meetings, starting with a day focused on getting to know one another and formal assessment of where each business is and where it hopes to go, based on the Business Model Canvas. The second meeting – a half-day meeting, will see the participants working in small groups, based on such things as size, sector, technology etc; at which the members of each group will present their progress together with their problems, to which group members will contribute their thoughts, their own experience and their ideas. Some mentoring is provided by ‘growth tutors’. Future meetings are expected to alternate between these two models – the provision of input and small group working. Meetings rotate around the premises of the various contributors.

This format brings together the best of a number of existing programmes, all of them evidently highly valued, and adds the intimate involvement of a wide variety of different contributors – provided pro bono. Every incubator can put together a programme with this objective (and every Science Park, Innovation Centre and Tech Hub too.)

John Whatmore, June 2016

 

 

Hi-growth ventures need close support

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Hi-growth ventures need close support

Backers, investors and partners are essential supporters for these businesses, says the Barclays Scale-up Report – and experienced new-business leaders, says another.

The Barclays Scale-up Report, just published, has focused on paths to success for early-stage hi-growth businesses. So what support will help them most to achieve successful growth?

A recent report conducted by Deloitte Denmark and Board Network – The Danish Professional Directors Association, called “Radical Innovation and Growth: Global Board Survey 2016 ” opens up concerns about the current boardroom and its great difficulty with managing more radical innovation.

It suggests that there is a need for greater insight into the area of innovative initiatives, grappling with organisational design, dealing with risk and failure, and for sheer experience in working in the huge discomfort zone driven by accelerating technology.

The Barclays Report portrays the problems of scaling up in terms of a series of challenges that businesses need to recognise and handle at the right moment – as they start up, take off, and accelerate into sustained growth, in particular:

  • aiming high – ambition
  • building a strong team
  • establishing partnerships
  • putting effective management systems into place
  • identifying core competences, and
  • articulating competitive strengths and new market opportunities.

While there may seem little new in these challenges, several of the recommendations emphasise the role of stakeholders in supporting scale-ups; and the research illustrates the importance of two factors: the timeliness and firmness with which the relevant issues are tackled; and the value of support in doing so.

The Report refers repeatedly to the functions of the Board, and implies a need for board members who are both involved and active, and for a board that meets frequently, with an eye more on the future than the past.

It underlines the importance of frequent and regular reviews of directions, resources and progress, including ‘strategic activities and partners’. (Telefonica’s Wayra Lab mandates a ‘board’ meeting once a month, as do many companies).

The Barclays Report emphasises the importance of including in this process backers, investors and partners (and the Deloitte Report would add: experienced new- business leaders) to bring to bear a range of perspectives on the issues under discussion – especially as regards technology and competition.

And a focus at board meetings on the future helps to underline the importance of ambition, progress, opportunity and the evolution of the business, but also on the imminence of change.

John Whatmore, May 2016

 

A board agenda (based on the recommendations in the Scale-up Report)

  • Are our current targets and plans based on ambitions that are high enough.
  • What do we now need to do to position the skills and abilities of our team for achieving the growth that we envisage.
  • Do we need to change our partners and suppliers so that they accord more closely with our strategic objectives.
  • Are we satisfied with the level of and plans for the standardisation of our systems and processes.
  • Have we identified and can we articulate our core competences – the unique knowledge that underlies our capability to compete.
  • Are our competitive strengths in the eyes of our customers related to our processes and knowledge; and are they the foundation of our strategy.

 

Scaling up: a challenge for Innovate UK

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Scaling up: a challenge for Innovate UK

A new report identifies the challenges that the UK must meet if our SMEs are to underpin economic growth to the substantial extent that they can.

Seldom has a piece of business research been designed to be so authoritative. Inspired by arch Angel Sherry Coutu, sponsored by Barclays and executed by the Business Schools of Oxford and Cambridge, its findings hit hard.

The research addresses a problem that has been relatively hidden – by the vibrancy of Tech City and the startup scene. While hi-growth SMEs generate 20% of all jobs growth in the UK, recent evidence from OECD shows that the UK has the highest number of start-ups compared to the OECD average, but we also have the lowest proportion of hi-growth SMEs. The biggest problem for the UK is not in starting companies, but in growing them.

 The report focuses on two closely linked obstacles to their successful growth. It seeks to identify the things that characterise successful hi-growth SMEs – with a view to stimulating them. And it seeks to make recommendations that would improve their financability.

It portrays their problems in terms of a series of challenges that they need to recognise and handle at the right moment, in particular:

  • aiming high – ambition
  • building a strong team
  • establishing partnerships
  • putting effective management systems into place
  • identifying core competences, and
  • articulating competitive strengths and new market opportunities.

While there may seem little new in these challenges, several of the recommendations emphasise the role of stakeholders in supporting scale-ups; and the research illustrates the importance of two factors: the timeliness and firmness with which the relevant issues are tackled; and the value of support in doing so.

In the financial capital of Europe, it is surprising to read of as many recommendations to tackle the financial support of these SMEs as there are about the management of the business – which seem to have caught the City unawares. These recommendations are about:

  • increasing the number and quality of VC funds
  • growing the number of experienced investors with sector and market experience
  • developing a UK venture debt market
  • establishing the UK Stock Exchange as the European leader in this field
  • enhancing the liquidity of private company equity
  • collecting better data on VC financing.

The report says little about how these objectives might be achieved, but the researchers participated in a new programme for such hi-growth companies at the Cambridge Judge Institute, which brought together the CEOs of all the participating companies at a series of six bi-monthly workshops, each of which addresses one of the classic challenges that early-stages ventures progressively face (eg shaping the value strategy/marketing and competition/developing the team/future finance).

These were structured so as to help each participant work with all the others: to assess progress, gain insights into and articulate their problems and opportunities, problem-solve collaboratively, set objectives and develop plans and ways to implement them. And a dedicated member of staff makes regular visits and contacts with each participant.

I have come across several programmes in the UK structured in this way (which I will discuss shortly in my blog). Innovate UK is ideally suited to enabling well-established and located incubators to set up targeted programmes of this kind, and this report should help ensure that it does so. For the full report, see home.barclays/scaleup

John Whatmore, May 2016

 

 

 

SMEs need someone to act as ‘chair’

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SMEs need someone to play the chairman role even more than do bigger businesses Lead mentors have the ability to ask the right questions and to turn up with someone who has just the expertise you are about to need.

Wayra Lab, Startupbootcamp and Techstars all attach mentors to their young businesses so as to provide feed-back and advice at the moment it is needed – on a proactive basis, not just when it is sought. This is in sharp contrast to Incubators such as those at Sussex Innovation Centre, Imperial College and UCL’s IdeaLondon and others, where advice or help is provided when it is sought – on a reactive basis.

There are topics that early-stage businesses know little about (eg development grants, intellectual property); there are things they don’t know how to do (eg 3D printing, ‘chatbot’ publicity); there are tasks of which they have little experience (eg strategy and management), where someone who has ‘done it before’ is invaluable. And in a world of disruptive advantage, time is not their ally.

Jim Milby who mentors several small businesses, recently retired as a Director of Barclays Bank, where he has ‘seen a few businesses’ and ‘knows a lot of people’. It is his extensive experience, his connections and importantly his independent voice that make him highly valued by the SMEs he works with. He has always insisted on having a regular review of progress – once a week ‘because you don’t want to go pitching for funding before you’ve got some customers.’ While the team, he says, are preoccupied with driving towards their current objectives, he might be asking questions about whether it is time to change something – in the product, or the target market segment, the key customer benefits, the strategy for getting there, or even the team itself.

John Whatmore, April 2016

Growth Builder: a new initiative for hi-growth SMEs

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Growth Builder is a new initiative for hi-growth SMEsAimed at supporting key drivers of the economy, the programme builds on recent experience with accelerators, but is minimal in relation to overall needs.

While the last few years have seen a focus on startups and early stage businesses, a report just published by the government’s British Business Bank, has suggested that “a lack of businesses scaling up” was dragging down the UK economy, a verdict supported by data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and that “there remains a need to stimulate a greater volume of businesses that can be scaled-up, including small and medium-sized exporters – to counteract the UK’s lagging productivity” – an issue that is also being addressed by the new Scaleup Institute.

The new Growth Builder scheme, just launched, aims to help 50 hi-growth companies through a 12-month programme of workshops, offering advice and mentoring on every challenge that growing businesses face, from creating an HR department to exporting and managing cashflow.

The components that are ‘compulsory’ are:

  • a curated exclusive high-growth peer network.
  • Six tailored workshops with successful inspiring high-growth founders, sharing insight into their experiences and lessons they learned from their supporters to apply in the selected business.
  • Six profesionally facilitated tutor groups offering an opportunity to share knowledge and challenges and gain a fresh perspective from peers in a supportive environment.

And optional are:

  • Monthly events tailored to individual growth challenges to inspire and inform.
  • Four networking events bringing together successful high-growth founders, influencers and decision makers within the public and private sector to facilitate beneficial connections.

It is a joint venture, supported by the Government’s export arm, UK Trade & Investment, as well as NatWest, BT, UCL, Loughborough University, the UK Business Angels Association, PIE Mapping and Fast Growth Forum.

The initiative is headed up by Lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman, growth champion Sherry Coutu, and Betfair co-founder Ed Wray, who will act as mentors for the companies involved.

In a poll of businesses turning over more than £1m, 60% of those surveyed claimed that the “scale up” phase was the toughest they had faced in business, compared to 19% who said the start-up phase was the most difficult; while just 4% struggled most as a medium-sized firm, according to the research, commissioned by the Telegraph and conducted by entrepreneur network The Supper Club. More than half of these entrepreneurs claimed that hiring people and managing staff were among the toughest challenges for fast-growing start-ups, with raising finance and business strategy also high up the list.

Any company turning over more that £1.5m or employing 20 staff or more is eligible to apply, provided its sales are rising by more than 20pc a year. Applications have to be in by mid-March.

The Government’s recent abandonment of the Business Growth Service (which provided access to mentors for businesses with hi-growth potential) seems more than perverse just at the moment when Innovate UK had begun to roll it out to its grant winners.

Among other recent initiatives,Tech City, the Government-backed organisation that champions the UK’s technology sector, unveiled its Upscale initiative last month, which also aims to help 30 firms. The International Business Programme, has also just been launched by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, which will offer 50 fast-growing firms the opportunity to join trade missions to the US, India, China, and Europe.

While all this is encouraging, it bears no relationship in quantative terms to the 6% of businesses identified by Nesta as the most significant contributors to growth of the UK economy.

John Whatmore, March 2016