Posted on January 30, 2017 by staff

UK’s big challenge is scaling tech start-ups


The head of one of the UK’s leading tech investment houses has said there is a real problem with scaling technology firms in this country.

Mercia Technologies CEO Dr Mark Payton said that a lack of “patient capital” meant that the country’s reputation for start-up creation was not being matched in the scale-up sphere.

The UK ranks 13th in a list which quantifies countries’ ability to scale businesses.

“Scaling up is the real struggle. Rather than holding businesses back, we need to work with the owners to build value over time,” he told the Celebrating Tech 2017 event in Manchester last week.

“That doesn’t mean five years: it may take seven to 15 years to create a sustainable business.

“More capital is now becoming available for early-stage businesses, but finding scale-up funding is still very difficult.”

He said that the problem was especially acute outside London.

“The issue is not simply with funding at different stages: there are also significant challenges for tech business located outside of London,” he said.

“Around £3 billion of investment capital is deployed in London and the South East but as you go further and further towards the North, the amount decreases dramatically.

“This isn’t a reflection of the quality of ideas, but the lazy way in which capital is deployed.”

Warwickshire-based Mercia invests in tech businesses in the Midlands, North and Scotland and has vowed to become one of the UK’s leading investors in new technology in 2017.

During 2016 it invested a total of £21.9m into 109 companies and acquired Enterprise Ventures, one of the UK’s leading providers of early stage and growth finance.

It now has six offices across the UK regions and Scotland, with more than 60 members of staff.