Why Edinburgh is the right place for SCALE-up businesses


As PwC and CodeBase announce SCALE: Edinburgh, the new initiative aimed at taking scale-ups to the next level, Douglas Shand, Head of Innovation for PwC in Scotland, and Tom Hoskin, part of the PwC Commercial Innovation team, discussed why now is the time to give scale-ups the boost they may need.

Scale-ups seem to be getting more attention these days - has the start-up market matured to a point where it’s lessening off?

Douglas Shand, Head of Innovation, PwC in Scotland, said:

“It is clear that we need to have more success stories in terms of businesses transitioning from startup to sustainable fast growth. The scale-up programme is designed to improve the outcomes for all involved - companies, investors, clients and the wider economy as a whole.

“This is all about supporting the growing pains of early stage businesses and their leaders and helping them take maximum advantage fo the opportunity they gave created.”

Tom Hoskin, PwC SCALE Programmes Lead, said:  

“There is now a well established support network, offerings and products for startup businesses in the market, traditional accelerators and incubators do a good job of getting businesses to a stage where they have a validated product but there is still a gap between this point and the next level of scaling a business, gaining clients and growing revenue.

“This is an increasing area of focus for large companies, investors, clients who want to work with a ready to go product/service that can immediately make an impact.”

Why is SCALE focusing on scale-ups at this point? Surely the start-up period is more dangerous for companies?

Douglas Shand:

“Different types of support are needed for fast growth companies at different stages in their lifecycle. We are focusing on building the relationships that are key to the success of the scale-ups - the most important one being between the scale-up and its clients and markets. Once a start-up has some traction often the most difficult next step is enterprise client engagement and being enterprise sales ready.

“PwC can really help the scale-ups understand this transition and be best prepared for going to market. PwC can also help its clients access innovation and transformative solutions because of the depth of understanding it has of the business challenges our clients face.”

Tom Hoskin:

"As Douglas mentions we are well positioned to be the missing link between corporate clients looking to innovate and scale-ups looking to build relationships and sales opportunities. As a global network we can open these channels to market whilst providing guidance to enable the company for rapid scaling.

"From an internal standpoint, PwC is not immune to disruption and we need to be just as switched on to the developing technologies and business models as our clients. We are already working with some of our alumni but not overlooking that we recognise potential and that scale-up businesses who are showing that may well be our large clients of the future, we would like to support them on that growth journey."

Why Edinburgh?

Douglas Shand:

“Currently Edinburgh is the hottest entrepreneurial city outside of London. Great academic research and talent, supportive angel and early stage funding, and a strong ecosystem of support and ambition. Edinburgh also has a fantastic quality of life and the large amount of business activity in the city centre, rather than in remote business parks, really helps."

Why should people or organisations sign up for this? And what role is PwC playing in it?

Douglas Shand:

“PwC are bringing everything to this. We are fully committed to this approach and making this programme in Scotland successful for everyone taking part. We are using our broad network to identify the best and most appropriate scale-up businesses and then matching these with our blue-chip, privately owned and public sector clients to build meaningful relationships that can deliver business benefit through technology.

We really understand our clients and we really appreciate the challenges facing them in the fast changing economic and political environment we now live in. We see this is all part of the PwC service."

Tom Hoskin:

“As a scale-up you get access to the PwC network, that being large clients, specialists, investors and beyond. We bring decision makers in from those areas to cut straight to any potential collaborative opportunities and accelerate any sales cycle.

“For an executive, access to leading innovation that is potentially disrupting the workplace, business and industry. It’s a way to identify the cutting edge technology, talent and trends that are shaping the future.

“As part of PwC’s Digital Private Business which serves the startup, scale-up and SME market this is part of that suite of services and products that can support companies through different stages of their growth journey.”

What are the biggest challenges facing scale-ups at the moment?

Douglas Shand:

“I see the biggest challenge is navigating the enterprise commercial landscape. Our largest customers are complex organisations and it is often difficult to find the right sponsors and the right audience for your product or service if you are a scale-up. Our programme executives fulfill that role perfectly and bridge the gap between the scale-ups and “big business”. We see this as one of the most important elements of our programme and this focus makes our programme unique in a busy market of accelerators.

“The ‘people’ issues are often not given enough focus and ensuring that you keep your culture while going through fast growth is important. Scale-ups will also have to understand the complex impact of Brexit, National and local devolution and the changing VAT and customs systems. These can be massive distractions while you are trying to deliver fast growth and happy customers.”

Now learn about how to sign up for SCALE and for more information please contact:

Dan Sinclair - SCALE: Edinburgh Lead

Dev Moudgil - SCALE: Edinburgh Manager

Contact us

General Enquiries

Scotland, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: (0)141 355 4000

Follow us: