Scottish firms among the London Stock Exchange’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ are the fastest-growing of any in the UK, and almost a third are in the north-east.

The LSE’s report, an “annual celebration of the fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium sized enterprises in the UK” identifies 56 SMEs in Scotland, with an average growth in annual turnover of 83 per cent.

It says: “Scottish firms are the fastest-growing compared to any other part of the UK. Sixteen companies come from Aberdeen alone, generating average annual turnover growth of 209 per cent, and 20 per cent of Scottish companies made the report for a second time running, proving they are not a flash in the pan.”

It highlights their diversity,with waste management, timber harvesting and manufacturing alongside oil and whisky, and cites Peak Scientific, which makes high performance gas generators for laboratories and aims to increase turnover fourfold to over £100m this year.

Xavier Rolet, chief executive of the LSE, commented: “More broadly, the 1000 companies we’ve identified are growing at an average of 50 per cent a year, a staggering rate given the recent tepidness of global growth. 78 per cent are headquartered outside London, demonstrating that Britain’s economic future is not reliant on the South-East, an assumption too often made.

“For this momentum to continue, it is essential fast growing businesses connect with the investment community, an initiative the Scottish government is driving forward and we are keen to support.”

He said London Stock Exchange Group works closely with over 200 businesses across Scotland, two-thirds of them SMEs, helping them access non-banking finance, which was a significantly better option than bank lending for high-growth companies, Mr Rolet said.

“We need to unleash the power of equity finance – where people find investment to grow their business either through individual investors, venture capitalists, or through crowdfunding, peer to peer platforms or on the markets – in return for a stake in that business.

“Aside from the support our traditional public markets give Scottish companies, we run a unique business support programme for high growth firms called Elite. It introduces the leaders of ambitious companies to business school experts and gives them access to a community of leading advisers and investors.”

Elite has grown in four years to become a pan-European programme, with over 320 high-growth companies. Of these, 10 are Scottish, including craft brewer Brewdog, developer of regenerative medicine Taragenyx, and manufacturer of photonic instruments M Squared Lasers.

Mr Rolet said: “We know these companies hold the key to unlocking more innovation, more jobs and more opportunities. We will do all we can to make sure they and the hundreds more from across Scotland and the UK receive the support they deserve.”

Last week the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) said the number of ‘high-growth firms’ across the UK had risen to just under 12,000 and Scotland had 722 of them – or six per cent – as defined by average annual employment growth of 20per cent over three years.

* Profits soared by 65per cent amongst Scotland’s top 100 privately-owned firms in the last 12 months, according to an annual review of the country’s top 100 private firms published today by Grant Thornton.

The annual Scotland Ltd report reveals that Scottish private firms more than doubled their profit margin to 9.4per cent, increased EBITDA by 53per cent and employed more people by 12per cent for the second year running.