High growth female-powered businesses reported sales of £34 billion last year

Photo shows: Bedfolk's Jo James
Lameirinho – Portugal – 6 11 2019

A new report published by JP Morgan has identified the top 200 high-growth female powered businesses in a bid to provide a more nuanced understanding of the role of women in UK business and enterprise.

And a number of them are based across our region.

The bank’s definition of female-powered refers to the high-growth companies founded or led by women or which have management teams that are at least 50 per cent women. The UK’s female-powered businesses employ more than 301,000 people, have sales of £34 billion and last year raised a record £2.3 billion in equity investment.

Female-powered companies make good use of equity, with 51 per cent of the businesses having raised equity finance. Last year was a record year for equity investment into female-powered businesses, with £2.3 billion secured. However, this is still a fraction of the more than £13 billion invested into all UK growth companies in 2020. The equity-backed, female-powered businesses are at an earlier stage compared to the general population of high-growth companies. As the companies age and grow, it is likely that the investment statistics will improve further.

A quick analysis of the report produces some results which we find a little surprising. Some of the companies in the list don’t seem to have management teams which are 50 per cent women – but what do we know…. We’re only busy journalists going by their website information.


Berkshire-based mdgroup provides those running clinical trials with extra support to help improve participant experience and retention. Activities include organising participant travel, providing home healthcare and developing software to support clinical trials. Executive Chair Miriam Dervan started the company in 2002 from her spare room and has grown it into a global group providing services from offices in the United States, Russia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Ireland.

mdgroup grew sales from £12.8 million in 2017 to £25.7 million in 2020 and increased headcount from 42 to 89 over the same period.

Wise Investment

Founded in 1992, Wise Investment provides financial planning and wealth management services from its base in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Alexandra Rae and Chief Financial Officer Amanda Sullivan, the company grew turnover from £6.4 million in 2016 to £27.7 million in 2020 and increased headcount from 31 to 54 during the same period. The majority of the employee-owned company’s management team are women.


Launched in 2018 the company sells beautiful bed linen and last year celebrated record sales (we all like a good sleep during the pandemic).

Otter Barry Books

An independent book publisher based in Hereford which publishes high-quality picture books for babies, toddlers, new and older readers. Turnover £424,000 and a compound annual growth rate of more than 42 per cent.

Frog Bikes

Ascot-based Frog Bikes has been re-designing Children’s Bikes Since 2013 in collaboration with sports scientists at Brunel University.

Zeetta Networks 

Bristol-based software company which offers high-quality software tools to monitor, control and operate their networks in a flexible and cost-effective way.


Cheltenham-based Digivante was founded by Martin and Donna Mudge in 2012 under the name of BugFinders. The company offers crowdsourced testing to address the growing need for rapid testing and extensive real-world device coverage.


Oxford-based Metaboards is a metamaterials start up. The company enables electronic devices to be powered across large surfaces without the need for alignment, with focussed power. Its proprietary technology can be used in different environments, including offices, cafes and at home. This creates more flexible wireless power.


An Abingdon-based femtech now renamed Verso Biosense, which last year raised £3.9 million in its clinical stage financing round. It recently signed a second product collaboration agreement with one of the UK’s leading fertility clinics, London Women’s Clinic.


Newbury-based Gusto designs a wide variety of power products across multiple brands. Products span wall and car charging, multiple port chargers (i.e. dual and triple port), and wireless charging.

Pathios Therapeutics

Pathios Therapeutics is an early-stage drug discovery company that was established in 2017 by a team of experienced pharmaceutical industry professionals and biotech entrepreneurs. Based in Oxford, UK, the company is founded upon a deep understanding of the biology of tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs).

Willow Brooke Day Nursery

Nuneaton – based children’s nursery. Opened in 2004 on the site of the George Eliot Hospital.