Tech Nation, has announced it is calling for applicants for three of it’s growth programmes, Future Fifty, Upscale, and Rising Stars. The programmes are designed to scale and grow the next generation of UK tech businesses, with prestigious alumni including UK heavyweights Monzo, Starling Bank, Darktrace, Deliveroo, and Skyscanner.

Tech Nation’s three bespoke programmes are available for UK companies at every stage of growth, early-stage (Rising Stars), mid-stage (Upscale), and late-stage (Future Fifty) (full requirements below), to ensure the UK continues to cultivate a pipeline for the next generation of tech leaders. Each programme offers tailored solutions to the biggest challenges facing UK companies; including access to networks and investors, hiring top talent, and expanding internationally. Since joining the programmes, Future Fifty company and Upscale alumnus Monzo has seen a 2301% increase in total funding and a 2122% increase in staff.

In 2019, Future Fifty enters its 8th year of supporting late-stage UK tech businesses as they scale up their operations nationally and internationally. Future Fifty 8.0 is now looking for the next 25 future companies in the tech economy to support them in achieving their global ambitions, creating jobs and opportunities across the UK, and inspiring the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, founders and businesses. The 25 companies selected for Future Fifty 8.0 will receive access to; a network of over 100 alumni including Deliveroo, Farfetch, Skyscanner and Funding Circle through c-Suite roundtables; workshops led by global experts such as ASOS and Dropbox; and a dedicated Tech Nation Visa team for hiring international talent.

Upscale, designed for mid-stage companies, supports 30 of the UK’s most innovative and fastest-growing tech companies to accelerate their growth. Over six months, the 30 companies chosen for Upscale 5.0 will receive 60 hours of support through seven founder-focused sessions, six senior leader focused sessions, and access to Upscale’s prestigious alumni network (130 companies who have collectively raised over $1.4bn since joining). Last year’s Upscale cohort had an average of £1.5m revenue, and included the likes of OpenRent, Airsorted and OLIO.

Rising Stars, a national startup competition, brings together the most exciting and innovative Seed to pre Series-A startups from all across the UK. Supported throughout the application process, the competition culminates in a Grand Final where the best 20 companies pitch to a panel of high-profile judges, in front of a room full of investors and industry peers, for the chance to be named as one of Tech Nation’s 10 Rising Stars 2.0. Throughout the competition, companies gain access to over 200 high profile investors and corporate leaders, pitch coaching and profile raising. Programme judges include, Domin Jaquesson, VP Talent, Index Ventures, Suranga Chadratillake, General Partner, Balderton Capital, Megumi Ikdea, GM and Managing Director, Hearst Ventures Europe, Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK, Denise Xifara, co-founder, GMG Ventures. 

The launch of the growth programmes comes one week after it was announced that investment in AI has reached record levels, with Upscale and Future Fifty companies contributing significantly to those figures. Currently the UK counts at least five AI unicorns amongst the total number of private tech companies with a valuation of $1bn. These are Future Fifty company Darktrace ($1.7bn valuation) and Upscale alumni Improbable ($2bn), as well as Benevolent AI ($2.1bn), Graphcore ($1.7bn) and Blue Prism ($1.3bn). Graphcore, based in Bristol, raised one of the biggest AI funding rounds of 2018, with $200m from a consortium of investors.

Vicky Hunter, South West Entrepreneur Engagement Manager, Tech Nation, commented:“From Truro to Bristol, the South West is building some of the most exciting tech companies in the world. Companies like Graphcore are putting the South West on the global tech map, while Tech Nation programme alumni such as Prezola, MoveGB, and Crowdcube are well on their way to being household names. Rising Stars, Upscale and Future Fifty offer tailored advice and support for companies at key inflection points of their growth journey. This is a brilliant opportunity for any startup or scaleup from the South West to join a powerful network of peers, and connect with experts from across the country, and I’d love to see strong representation from the region in the upcoming cohorts.”

Ben Shorrock

Ben has been working to help grow tech and digital business for the last decade. He is currently the MD of TechSPARK the Southwest’s network for tech startups and scale ups working with 25,000 people a month to help them recruit, network and raise capital in the UK’s most productive Tech cluster (TechNation 2019). He sits on the boards of the UK Tech Cluster Group, Bristol’s ONce City Economy Board, Tech Swindon, Tech Southwest and is a co-founder of Bristol Tech Festival. Prior to working for TechSPARK, Ben worked in consultancy with businesses opening new sites internationally. In this role, he helped set up Invest Bristol & Bath and the Netherlands consulate for the north of England.