With only 1 in 10 scaling firms in Europe, the European Scaleup Institute’s inaugural conference sets the stage to address the scaleup gap

21 June 2023

Scaling is a multifaceted phenomenon with a steep path to hypergrowth that only a few European companies are able to climb. On 1-2 June 2023 in Portugal (Nova School of Business and Economics), the European Scaleup Institute (ESI) launched its first collaborative European Scaleup Monitor and welcomed academics and practitioners across Europe to engage in discussions to strengthen and build a knowledge community around scaling up.

The conference kicked off with the launch of a collaborative European Scaleup Monitor by Prof. dr. Veroniek Colleweart (Vlerick Business School), the institute’s Academic Director: “Our statistics show that these firms come in many more colours, shapes and sizes. It is absolutely key that we map and understand this diversity in high-growth firms as they may require substantially different strategies, processes and support to achieve their high growth.” The monitor reveals that only one in ten companies in Europe manages to scale on average by more than 10% annually, over a three-year period. When it comes to high growth (more than 20% annual growth), this shrinks to one out of twenty-four. Consistent scaling is even more difficult to achieve: only 1.13% of all European companies are able to scale by more than 20% for two years out of the three-year period.

Scaleup entrepreneurs Miguel Alves Ribeiro (SheerMe) and Paulo Trezentos (Aptoide), and policy expert Sara Jud (EISMEA) joined the stage with Leonardo Fuligni, Executive Director of the European Scaleup Institute, to discuss key takeaways from the report. Each speaker had the opportunity to share their wishes to ESI for the 2nd European Scaleup Conference: Miguel wants us to overcome the fragmented European landscape, Paulo highlighted the importance of knowledge and networking (a shared ‘growth formula’) and the Sara wants to see the spillover effect from successful scaleup stories.

“At Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, we believe that impact starts with knowledge. Together with the European Scaleup Institute, we want to address what is often referred to as ‘’the scaleup gap’’, in which less SMEs are said to be able to achieve high growth in Europe when compared to similarly crowded entrepreneurial ecosystems in the rest of the world.” – Leonardo Fuligni, Executive Director of the European Scaleup Institute and Deputy Director of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship.

With plenty of opportunities to share knowledge and network, the rest of the day was dedicated to paper presentations. Chaired by Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship’s Senior Fellow Prof. dr. Justin Jansen (Rotterdam School of Management), 21 researchers across Europe had the opportunity to share state-of the-art insights into the topic of scaling up and receive feedback on their groundbreaking work in this emerging field of study. Pedro Janela (WYgroup), serial entrepreneur and educator, closed the day with a keynote of his personal experience navigating the scaleup landscape.

The second day of the conference was all about the practical implications for our knowledge community: how can we bring the latest research insights to the world of education to create a lasting impact in the field? We learnt from best practices at Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (dr. Ferdinand Jaspers), Vlerick Entrepreneurship Academy (Prof dr. Miguel Meuleman and Prof dr. Yannick Dillen), ESSEC Business School’s “Leading a Scale-Up” Chair (prof. dr. David Sluss) and the Centre for Entrepreneurial Growth & Scaling at the University of Galway (Prof. dr. Jonathan Levie). The conference closed with an unconference-style approach, where participants decided on pressing topics to address in roundtable breakout discussions.

Thank you to all our participants for being a part of the first ever European Scaleup Conference! We look forward to welcoming you back again next year.

The European Scaleup Institute is a collaboration between leading academic experts in Europe including (in alphabetical order): Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship & Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Netherlands; ESADE Business School, Spain; ESSEC Business School, France; Luiss Business School, Italy; NOVA Business School, Portugal; University of Galway, Ireland; Vlerick Business School, Belgium; WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany. We are a growing platform of academic experts and practitioners in Europe for scaleups, high-growth firms, governmental organisations and policymakers to address the scaleup gap. Our mission is to enable Europe to become a leading global scaleup ecosystem. We aim to do this through joint research and educational initiatives across borders, sharing best practices and building a strong knowledge community around scaling up.

Find out more about ESI on and get in touch with us via if you’re interested in joining us on our mission to bridge the scaleup gap!

Photography credits to André Fernandes. 

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