October marks the start of work on the 2020 Alantra Pharma Fast 50. Anticipation about which businesses will feature prompted me to look back at the first three editions of the report.

Each Fast 50 has proved the UK’s privately-owned pharmaceuticals businesses are thriving, with the most successful companies accelerating their growth and attracting increasing investment. Every single business in this year's ranking delivered a compound annual growth rate of at least 10% – and to make the top 10 required a CAGR of no less than 32%. Our new Fast 50 infographic shows four indicators underlining how well the best businesses in the sector are performing:

1. The bar to the Alantra Pharma Fast 50 continues to rise

Any business hoping to make it into the 2019 rankings would have had to achieve a CAGR of at least 10.4% over the previous two years. That was more than three times the minimum CAGR of 3.4% required to make the ranking in 2017, our inaugural ranking. And the bar has risen in each sub-sector of the industry too.

2. Growth is accelerating across the sector

This industry-wide success is reflected in the average rates of growth achieved by each sub-sector – which were in each case substantially up on 2017.

3. Private equity is targeting the leaders

At least nine members of the 2019 Fast 50 are backed by private equity. The leading private equity-backed business in the ranking, CRF Health, has delivered a CAGR of 41% over the past two years.

4. Consistent performers shine again and again

No fewer than 10 companies have appeared in all three editions. They include Qualasept Pharmaxo, which topped the ranking in 2019 with a CAGR of 77% – making it a hat-trick of first places for the pharma outsourcing business after coming top in 2017 and 2018 too.