SMEs and entrepreneurship

Unleashing SME potential to scale up


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that scale up, and particularly high-growth firms, make an important contribution to job creation and economic growth in OECD countries. However, despite their importance and the considerable policy interest they attract, there remain significant knowledge gaps, hampering the ability of governments to provide effective scale up support and create the right business conditions for SMEs to grow. The project contributes to advancing knowledge in the field.


sme scaleup  

Why a project on "scaling up"? 

High-growth firms are rare, but make an important contribution to job creation. However, little is known about the factors that enable or prevent firms to scale up, especially older and established SMEs, and equally little is known about firms’ performance after a growth phase. By focusing on the growth process and looking into changes in firm scale in traditional and novel dimensions, the pilot action will renew understanding on the drivers and barriers to sustainable scaling up.

Governments worldwide have put strong emphasis on enabling their many small businesses – both young and established – to scale up activities and grow. As digitalisation and globalisation increasingly enable firms to reach scale without mass, new policy approaches are considered that require re-conceptualising scaling up dynamics. This pilot project will contribute to better understanding the policy mix for start-up and SMEs scaling up.


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PROJECT PILLARS: Measurement and Policy

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The measurement pillar builds on and extends the existing concept of “scaling up”, which is typically associated with “high-growth enterprise”. The novelty lies in considering the characteristics of firms scaling up before, during and after the scale-up phase. The pilot has developed indicators and analysis based on firm microdata for five pilot countries (Finland, Italy, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain).

The policy pillar builds on and bridges work conducted on benchmarking SME and entrepreneurship policies and analysis of innovation policy mixes. The pilot provides an overview of existing policies and good practices in OECD and EU countries in two policy areas related to: access to scale up finance, and SME data governance (access, protection and use of data).


Allow policy makers to better understand the trends, drivers and barriers, as well as the policy approaches that matter for SME scale up.



Q4 2021 – Measurement report

The results of the first phase of this project, summarised in Understanding Firm Growth: Helping SMEs Scale Up, shows the potential of leveraging a more diverse set of data sources – e.g. microdata or other non-traditional (and non-official) data – to better understand the diverse growth pathways of SMEs and “scalers.

Q1 2022 – Policy report

Leveraging the findings of the measurement work, the project will advance knowledge on how policy makers can create the conditions for SME scaling up and provide them with benchmarking tools in order to identify cross-country commonalities, differences and good policy practices through a mapping of relevant policies and institutions across the OECD area in two policy domains: access to scale up finance, and SME data governance (access, protection and use of data).





Countries are invited to the pilot project on SMEs scaling up.

Measurement and analysis
By working with the OECD on gaining access to suitable microdata and /or implementing the proposed methodology to develop “scaling up” indicators in their country.

Policy mapping and analysis
By working with the OECD on mapping national policy practices and mixes, and coordinating feedback of relevant stakeholders in their country.







For more information about the project or to get involved, please contact:

Alexander C.
Sandrine Kergroach:


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