the GRID: mapping the growth company marketplace

Published by Ronan Bryan on March 28, 2019, 8:00 am in Promotion, Blog post

IMAGE: courtesy of doodlecarll


Directorzone is building an online database of growth companies. We call this the GRID - dynamic companies with strong GRowth, Innovation and Direction.

Please click here for a list of GRID companies profiled on this site.

GRID: Directorzone criteria

Directorzone focuses on small to mid-sized companies, from pre-revenue to those with annual revenues up to £400m, that meet any of the following criteria:

  • LISTED. In the UK, this includes companies selected from AIM, NEX and smaller companies on the the London Stock Exchange, Main Market.
  • RANKED. Companies that have been assessed and ranked for their growth achievements by organisations such as Fast Track, Deloitte 500, Queen’s Award for Enterprise, Telegraph 1000 and others.
  • INVESTED. Companies with investment from Private Equity, Venture Capital, other businesses or Angel Investors.
  • POTENTIAL. Companies not included in the above categories that have flitted across the Directorzone radar screen because of their size, profitability, growth rate, innovation, export activity, positive media coverage and/or their obvious success and potential. 

This group would include nearly all Gazelles, High-Growth Enterprises and Scaleups (see below) - but how many GRID companies are there in the UK - 100,000, 150,000, 200,000...?

We don’t know, but we’re going to find out, by putting great companies on the Directorzone GRID – and focusing on their stories, their metrics, their needs and their opportunities!


The commonly used term SME – small and medium-sized enterprises – is familiar to many people in business and media. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) estimates that 99.3% of the 5.7 million UK private sector businesses registered at the start of 2018 were SMEs. Different countries have different definitions of an SME and the EU estimates that 90% of all businesses in Europe are SMEs.

Given that there are 32.7 millon people in work in the UK out of a population of 66 million, that represents 1 company for every 5.7 workers in the UK. But how many of these companies can claim to be real drivers of the UK economy? Lets start reducing the numbers:

  • BEIS states that 75% of these businesses did not employ anyone aside from the owner.
  • That leaves 1.4m "employing" businesses that we might focus on.
  • If we take out the small shops, farms, hotels, construction businesses, tradesmen, accountants, lawyers, consultants, etc. that that have relatively static businesses, how many does that leave?
  • Alot less...


Over the past decade or two, attempts have been made to identify a tighter, more meaningful group of companies, with labels such as Gazelles, High-growth enterprises and more recently Scaleups, that describe enterprises with average annualised growth in employees or turnover greater than 20% a year, over a three-year period, and with ten or more employees at the beginning of the observation period.

Sherry Coutu’s November 2014 “Scale-Up” report, commissioned by BIS, used data from the Office for National Statistics to show that there were - at the time - 8,923 scaleup firms in the UK. According to the data at ScaleUpBritain these lists include some very large companies with billion pound annual revenues and exclude many, many investor-backed and/or innovative growth companies with impressive - albeit less dramatic and consistent - growth. In June 2018 the ScaleUp Institute reported that "the number of scaleup businesses in the UK rose from 31,440 in 2015 to 35,210 in 2016. Although scaleups account for less than one per cent of the number of businesses in the UK, their combined revenues amount to almost £1trn and they generate 3.5m jobs."

Then there is a much, much more select group named after a mythical beast: Unicorns - private technology companies with a $1bn valuation. There are not many of these around - hence the name - but some of them will be GRID companies because of their annual turnover, at least for a while...

Get on the GRID!

Given that we are mapping this marketplace, "GRID" has an appropriate cartological ring to it. 

Many of the thousands of GRID companies in our database - and the Accelerator organisations that support them - will be listed on the Directorzone website. To see examples of GRID companies in the news, please click here.


  • you’ve got any comments on these issues or any companies that you'd like to add to the GRID, please contact us.
  • you'd like your company to be on the GRID because of its growth / innovation / strategic achievements: Directorzone wants to interview you.