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Research projects

Harnessing Scaling: Uncovering Key Challenges and Strategies for Scale-ups

While successful scale-ups are key drivers for employment and economic growth, the mechanisms how to succeed at scaling are surprisingly little researched and understood. At the same time, the need to better understand scaling is staggering: Studies show that up to nearly 70% of new startups scale prematurely, and a significant portion of them face the harsh consequence of failure. Driven by a network of key partners and with access to unique data, the Center for Entrepreneurial Insights (CEI) spearheads the "Harnessing Scaling" program to delve into the heart of scaling challenges and unravel successful strategies to overcome them.

In-depth Exploration into Scaling Dynamics

The core of our program consists of an in-depth exploration into the dynamics of scaling. We start by reviewing and synthesizing existing literature to build a comprehensive understanding of the scaling endeavor. Following this, we compare theoretical ideas with substantial data gathered from specialized startup coaches and many startups and scaleups themselves – leveraging the first-hand insights that CEI members have themselves garnered in scaling challenges. Our aim is to construct a solid, evidence-based framework that elucidates the key transitions and challenges in scaling, providing a roadmap for startups to navigate this critical phase successfully.

The uniqueness of this program lies in its pragmatic approach towards tackling the most critical challenges faced in scaling. It's not just about theoretical understanding, but crafting actionable tools that are useful and used to make scale-ups more successful.

Our program thrives on collaboration with scaleup coaches, industry experts, and firms facing scaling challenges. Their insights form the foundation for our practical scaling framework. "Harnessing Scaling" is more than a program; it's a venture to equip startups with strategies for effective scaling, aiming to reduce startup failure and contribute to job creation and societal welfare.

Ongoing Impact

Selected, related publications in progress:

  • Bubenzer, P. (2021). Scaling: Evidence-based concept and challenges. Proceedings of the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC) 2021

Beyond our publications, CEI members have collaborated in developing the business innovation coaching for the EU commission in the European Innovation Council program (former SME instrument). Several thousand EU companies have been coached based in this program which clearly distinguishes pre- and post-scaling challenges. Moreover, we have been involved in conceptualizing the Scale-up coaching program of Innosuisse which supports scale-ups nationwide across Switzerland. Not least, scaling insight from CEI are being taught in masterclasses at different leading universities in Switzerland.

Running time

2018 to 2020

Project manager

Philipp Bubenzer

Full Professor UAS/Institute Head

+41 26 429 63 65

Institute/Competence center

Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation