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2024 Scale-ups Confidence Survey

Belgian Report 2024

Discover the fifth edition of Deloitte's Scale-ups Confidence Survey, a study on the main challenges scale-ups are facing in Belgium and other European countries. This Belgian edition reveals some interesting findings about the Belgian scale-up ecosystem.

European version of our report

This year we expanded our geographical reach, with Deloitte Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. 

Key findings

We invite you to delve into this report to discover how the maturity of the ecosystem unfolds in Belgium. Despite the challenges, Belgium remains, according to the Financial Times, the most resilient within the Eurozone, a testament to the strength and resilience of its entrepreneurial spirit. 

Learn more about the most prominent findings within the Scale-Ups Ecosystem 2024.

Life Sciences & Health Care and Mobility scale-ups achieved the highest growth in 2023

In 2023, Life Sciences & Health Care scale-ups achieved the highest average revenue growth (104%) due to their progression beyond the proof-of-concept stage and revenue generation, which is particularly driven by HealthTech and MedTech companies. Secondly, Mobility scale-ups experienced a 96% growth, attributed to sustainability initiatives by governments and corporates, as well as rising consumer demand for affordable transportation.

Scale-ups increasingly struggle with cash flow, liquidity, and funding. Changing regulations is among the top concerns for the first time

While lower/delayed new business and customer signings remains the number 1 challenge, this year 39% of Belgian scale-ups indicated cash flow, liquidity and funding issues as the second challenge, which surpassed finding the right talent (36%). The regulatory landscape pushes changing regulations in the top 10 for the first time since our survey launched.

Economic uncertainty pushes talent acquisition and retention down in list of priorities. Finding new customers remains top focus for scale-ups

As indicated by 82% of respondents , scale-ups continue to prioritise new customer acquisition as their main strategy for realising their growth ambitions, while talent acquisition and retention has witnessed a drop of 8 percentage points compared to last year, which may be influenced by the current economic conditions and uncertainty.

Scale-ups remain conservative regarding their workforce growth. Finding the right technology and commercial talent remains a considerable challenge

While scale-ups increased their total FTEs by 11% in 2023, 30% of the companies expect to continue a hiring freeze or reduction in workforce, an increase of 8 percentage points compared to last year’s survey. Simultaneously, scale-ups continue to struggle with finding the right talent, such as STEM profiles, technical and engineering FTEs, but also salespeople.

66% report impact on valuation, and scale-ups are increasingly turning to equity funding from new investors rather than government grants and subsidies

This year, 66% of scale-ups reported a negative impact on their valuation (compared to 62% last year). Additionally, there is a noticeable trend toward relying more on equity funding from new investors (56%) rather than opting for government grants and subsidies (43%).

(Highly) confident companies are dropping slightly, driven by the difficult market conditions of last year

Overall, 66% of respondents stated that they are (highly) confident to continue or accelerate their growth trajectory. This is a decrease of 10 percentage points compared to last year, while the overall confidence score has also dropped from 7.9 to 7.7.

Scale-Ups Confidence

How confident are you that your business can continue or even accelerate its growth trajectory?

The confidence level of scale-ups to continue or accelerate their growth trajectory remains high, with 66% of respondents indicating they are (highly) confident. Comparing to the results of last year, confidence among scale-ups has decreased slightly (9 percentage points). Simultaneously, the confidence score dropped to 7.7.

In conclusion, while the evolving market conditions have certainly made an impact, scale-ups maintain a high level of optimism and confidence in their growth trajectory.

Additionally, there are many signs that the ecosystem is maturing, with conventional scale-ups being sifted out. This makes Belgium an ideal incubator and accelerator for start- and scale-ups, characterised by a high-quality threshold and a drive for innovation.

While scale-ups remain rather confident, the changing market conditions have negatively impacted their future growth ambitions and optimism.

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