Telegraph Media Group

The slogan under the masthead of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph business sections is: ‘Backing Business and Enterprise’. But, for us, it’s more than just a slogan – it informs the tone of all our business coverage.

We want to celebrate British success stories, showcasing the best of business and industry. Our daily ‘Good News Britain’ slot highlights firms, big or small, with inspirational stories to tell. We believe that wealth creators should be revered, not pilloried – to borrow an analogy used by Business Minister Michael Fallon in the aftermath of London 2012, they should be held in the same regard as Olympic champions.

That’s why, when London Stock Exchange Group came to me a few months ago with the idea of championing 1,000 growing British companies, I was delighted to get involved in the project.

Using research agency Growth Intelligence to tease out interesting companies at an early, but exciting, stage of development seemed an innovative way to identify small, up-and-coming businesses that will become the heroes of tomorrow. Alongside them too are some stars of today.

At the Telegraph, we pride ourselves on our coverage of the SME business sector – firms that are the backbone of the British economy. In 1979, there were 480,000 businesses in the UK; now there are 4.8 million. The growth is almost entirely due to the increase in the number of SMEs. Last year, 484,224 new businesses were created; this year the number is likely to top 500,000 – equivalent to one a minute. Estimates suggest that two-thirds of the firms that will make up the Standard & Poor’s 500 in 10 years’ time will be companies that don’t even exist today.

Not all of these new companies will flourish; many will fall by the wayside. Moreover, it is pointed out that the UK has a poor record of turning start-ups into medium-sized firms which become global players. The medium-sized business sector accounts for one per cent of British firms, employs 16 per cent of the UK workforce and creates almost a quarter of all revenue, but two-thirds still have little or no growth.

The 1,000 companies are ones that have every chance of growing, providing employment and creating wealth. We will watch their progress in the hope that many will become the Olympians of British business.