Business Growth: How to scale up Viking style

Business Development director Jane Galsworthy was lucky enough to visit Vaeksthus in Copenhagen to learn about how they help small businesses to scale. As well as learning to ride a rather scary electric bike, I also picked up the following key points:

  1. Mission and passion – Vaeksthus was set up in 2008 with the aim of targeting small businesses with growth potential and helping them grow. The team is passionate about this. They live and breathe it with the result that all the activities that they do are strategically aligned to make small businesses grow.
  2. Experience and metaphorical grey hair – Vaeksthus has a team of impressive business coaches with plenty of first-hand experience of running their own businesses. This experience is essential part of building trust with their clients to get deep into the heart of the business and work out which challenges need solving to make a big difference. Combined with Danish straight talking – it is easy to see how these guys can home in on the big issues and encourage their clients to tackle them.
  3. Tough love – the team at Vaeksthus deeply believe that small businesses need to take their destinies into their own hands. There is no spoon feeding – the advisers will set their clients homework to test their commitment and encourage them to develop faster.
  4. No such thing as a free lunch – Vaekesthus clients are often required to make a financial contribution to the service that they receive. They will also find themselves referred to a commercial company to provide any additional services required to grow.

5.Innovation and longevity – Vaeksthus is now about 8 years old. During that period they have received core funding of several million Euros per year to deliver growth services. The funding comes with a requirement to deliver agreed levels of economic impact. This security of funding has allowed them to build a strong brand that is recognised by growth companies and develop an impressive range of business tools and diagnostics which is continually evolving and improving.

6. Partnership working – Vaeksthus works with the Danish National Government and a whole host of municipalities (similar to our local councils). The National Government decides the funding package and headline impacts but the munincipalities (yes – all of them!) sit on a regional board to make sure that Vaeksthus delivers on their local priorities too.

Of course, we share many of these principles and Vaeksthus was keen to learn from UK scale-up support. However, perhaps its time for the UK to stop regularly reinventing scale-up support and switch to a model of continuous improvement?



Dr Jane Galsworthy is a Director of Development and an expert in the design of business support for high growth SMEs with needs around scale-up, accessing finance and commercialising innovation. For the last 20 years, she has worked at the interface between business, academia and policy building partnerships to create effective enterprise and innovation ecosystems.

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