Supporting Invest NI’s work with ‘Scaling Firms’ across Northern Ireland
This study, secured non-competitively, involved consultancy work to understand Invest NI’s current support package for ‘Scaling Firms’. Scaling Firms are defined as those with, per annum, >20% growth rates, and turnover of >£10m. At any one time, Invest NI supports around 20 Scaling Firms with a dedicated Scaling Team, which provides tailored one-to-one relationship support and access to an intensive one-year leadership development programme.
The work plan for this study included the following workstreams:
- Data on High Growth firms in Northern Ireland and the UK were reviewed, and we compared their characteristics with other firms;
- A review of the academic and practitioner literature on High Growth firms was undertaken, in particular looking at the triggers and barriers to such firm growth;
- An extended workshop with the firms in the Invest NI’s Scaling Portfolio was held, followed-up with a survey via email/telephone, to understand the experiences of these Scaling firms and what further support they would like; and
- A desk-based review of scaling support programmes in three counterpart jurisdictions - Singapore, the Republic of Ireland, and the UK - was undertaken, focused on drawing-out applicable ‘what works’ learning for the Northern Ireland company evidence.
Using the research collected, Steer Economic Development’s report made recommendations on how Invest NI’s current support package could be modified and, in many areas, expanded, to provide yet more comprehensive support. Our recommendations included adding a series of workshops or masterclasses, adding a peer networking element, defining a clearer graduation policy and timeline for the support offer, and using the expertise of the most experienced Scaling firms to help upskill their newer counterparts.