In 2015, close to 158 000 companies were recognised as high-growth enterprises. They account for one tenth (9.9%) of all active enterprises with at least ten employees in the business economy in the European Union (EU), and provide work for over 13.5 million employees. High-growth companies were identified using the criteria of average annualised growth in employee numbers of more than 10% per year over a three-year period and at least 10 employees when this growth began. High-growth enterprises play an important role in contributing to economic growth and job creation.
Looking at a breakdown by economic activity, high-growth enterprises in the EU were more predominant in the service sectors than in the rest of the business economy in 2015. The highest proportion of high-growth enterprises was in the “Information and communication“ sector (15.3% of active enterprises in this sector), followed by “Administrative and support service activities” (14.0%), "Transportation and storage" (12.0%) and "Professional, scientific and technical activities" (11.3%).
Data for sector "Financial and insurance activities" are not available.
Highest share of high-growth enterprises in Ireland
In 2015, EU Member States showed considerable variation in the distribution of high-growth enterprises. The highest proportion of high-growth enterprises among all active enterprises with at least 10 employees was recorded in Ireland (14.9%), ahead of Malta (13.7% in 2014), Hungary (12.5%), Slovakia and Latvia (both 12.2%) as well as Sweden (12.1%). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest shares were registered in Cyprus (2.2% in 2014) and Romania (2.3%), followed by Greece (6.0%), Austria (6.5%), Italy (7.6%), Estonia (7.7%) and Belgium (8.1%).
The source dataset can be found here.
High-growth enterprises contribute the most to employment in Ireland, Hungary and Portugal
High-growth enterprises have a significant impact on employment. In 2015, about 1 in 5 employees was employed in high-growth enterprises in Ireland (21.7%), Hungary (20.7%) and Portugal (19.7%). High-growth enterprises had also a significant impact on employment in the United Kingdom (19.0%), Bulgaria (18.6%), Malta (17.5% in 2014), Latvia and the Netherlands (both 17.4%). In contrast, the lowest shares were registered in Cyprus (3.6% in 2014) and Romania (5.9%), followed at a distance by Austria (7.8%), Finland and France (both 9.5%).