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Executive summary

Across the UK, scaling tech companies are driving investment (81% of the UK total in 2019), creating high quality jobs and improving lives for many (investment into impact startups increased 9.5x between 2014 and 2019).

But, as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a strong ecosystem to raise a healthy cohort of scaleups.

The Scale Ratio report explores the growth stages of scaling tech companies - from seed to late stage - across UK cities and sectors. It tells us about the maturity and trajectory of UK tech’s growth engines and injects the levelling up agenda with new evidence to boost regional ecosystem development.

Alongside this report, Tech Nation announces the latest cohort of it's Upscale programme, for mid-stage scaling companies - commensurable with the 'early stage' companies seen in this report.

How do I use the Scale Ratio?

Choose from the lists of cities, sectors, and regions in the Scale Ratio dashboards below to compare firms at different stages of growth.

Entrepreneurs and founders: determine your position in your local or regional scaleup ecosystem. Find more information about applying to Tech Nation growth programmes to support your accelerated scaling journey.

Investors: explore opportunities in under invested or embryonic markets in the UK - and use the Data Commons for UK tech to find specific tech scaleups seeking investment.

Government: understand the balance of companies at different stages of growth to tailor support and intervention in local and regional ecosystems to support the continued scaling up of UK tech. For example, if a region has a higher proportion of seed stage companies, there is a clear impetus to focus on how scaling growth can be achieved - for with more mature ecosystems, how can collaboration be fostered between seed and late stage growth companies to boost the pipeline?

What growth stages are included in the Scale Ratio?

The Scale Ratio tells us about the startup and scaleup ecosystem, there are three growth stages covered in the report:

Seed: Fewer than 10 people and/or less than €1M funding
Early Stage: 11-50 people and/or €1-10M funding or post-Series A
Late Stage: more than 50 people and/or over €10M funding

(The definition is in Euros, due to its application in other reports to companies across Europe, in collaboration with Dealroom.)

What is the difference between Business balance and Investment balance?

The Business balance section details the number of companies at different growth stages in a region, city or sector - giving a sense of the pipeline of scaling firms, whereas Investment balance looks at the total investment raised by companies at different growth stages in a region, city or sector - exploring the performance of those companies.


Business balance

The balance of tech companies at different stages of scaling growth by region, city and sector in the UK.

  • This section addresses the pipeline of tech scaling companies - looking at the absolute number of businesses operating at different stages of growth in a given sector or geography. This us not how a business, or group of businesses is performing, but the ability of the overarching ecosystem - and it's success at incubating, or seeding the next generation of world leading scaleups.
  • Looking at the balance of firms by growth stage, we see that a 5:3:2 ratio of seed (50%), early growth (30%), late growth (20%) companies in a UK regional tech hub is indicative of a mature, balanced ecosystem.
  • This ratio is consistent with high performing hubs - areas with the largest number of scaleups, and largest sums of VC capital invested. London, Manchester and Cambridge approximately exhibit the 5:3:2 ratio and attracted the most investment in the UK in 2020.
  • These clusters are well placed to benefit from the accelerated growth of late stage companies while creating the next wave of tech scaleups.
  • Milton Keynes, Watford, Reading, Peterborough and Slough over index on late stage companies and have less developed seed stage pipelines, with as much as 52% of total scaleups in late state growth.
  • Looking at sectors, fintech, healthtech and enterprise software are the most mature scaleup sectors, where the number of companies are heavily weighted towards late-stage companies. Meanwhile, edtech and mediatech are weighted heavily towards seed stage companies, indicating these are sectors with opportunity for future growth and development.

Choose cities, sectors and regions from the drop down lists below to compare the Scale Ratio.


Investment balance

The balance of total investment made into tech companies at different stages of scaling growth by region, city and sector in the UK.

  • Investment balance looks not at the number of businesses in a sector or geography, but at the total investment made into companies at the respective stage of growth. It gives an impression of the performance, rather than the pipeline of scaling tech companies, and should be used alongside Business balance to get a perspective of the relative investment weight of different stages.
  • Belfast (54:32:14), Dundee (54:26:20) and Exeter (59:14:27) are the tech hubs to watch in 2021, with Scale Ratios that indicate they have the highest growth potential. These cities have the highest proportion of seed stage companies compared to any other in the UK.
  • Supporting this, from an investment perspective, Belfast witnessed a doubling of pre-seed (£0-800k) investment, Dundee saw over £300k of investment in Eversens, a biotech firm, in 2020 - compared to a higher proportion of Series A investment in 2019 into the likes of Intelligent Growth Solutions, who focus on Agritech, and Exeter saw early stage investments in edtech firm Maths Kitchen, and SaaS platform Re-Flow (2019-2020).

Choose cities, sectors and regions from the drop down lists below to compare the Scale Ratio.



The Scale Ratio uses firm level data for approximately 35,000 tech companies from the Data Commons for UK tech, a publicly accessible database of UK tech startups and scaleups from Dealroom and Tech Nation.

Dealroom data covers venture capital investment and excludes debt, lending capital, grants, ICOs and other non-equity. Secondary rounds, buyouts, M&A and IPOs are also excluded. The data excludes biotech. Including biotech the UK and European investment data would make it much higher. Dealroom’s proprietary database and software aggregate data from multiple sources, including news flow aggregation and processing, web scraping and manual research. Data is verified and curated with an extensive manual process, augmented by data processing.

  • Investment numbers refer to venture capital investment rounds such as seed, series A, B, C, …. late stage, and growth equity rounds. It excludes debt or other non-equity funding, lending capital, grants and ICOs.
  • Buyouts, M&A, secondary rounds, and IPOs are treated as exits: excluded from funding data, but included in exit data.
  • This report focuses on companies in the post-internet age, i.e. after 2000. Most but not all unicorns are VC backed.
  • Companies included in the analysis are tech-driven. Industries include software, ecommerce, online marketplaces, hardware, ICT infrastructure. The full industry & business model taxonomy can be found online.
  • Dealroom’s proprietary database and software aggregate data from multiple sources: harvesting public information, user-submitted data verified by Dealroom, data engineering. All data is verified and curated with an extensive manual process.
  • Most underlying data from the report is available online via For more information please visit