Future Fifty and Upscale are back to super-charge UK tech companies

3 Nov, 2016

Whether you’re a late-stage tech company or you’ve started scaling towards becoming one, Tech North’s friends at Tech City UK (we’re one big happy family) have a programme for you.

Today, applications have opened for Future Fifty and Upscale, and one of them could be perfect for helping you grow your firm in 2017.

Let’s take a closer look…

What is Future Fifty?

Future Fifty is our programme to help 50 of the country’s late-stage pioneering tech companies. If you think that your business has what it takes to become the next Deliveroo, Transferwise or Skyscanner, this is for you.

This programme has been helping to turn late-stage tech companies into international players since 2014.

From 77 Future Fifty companies, we have seen:

  • Five IPOs on the London Stock Exchange, raising over £1 billion
  • 11 mergers and acquisitions, six of which were in the last year, including SwiftKey (Microsoft), One Fine Stay (Accor Group) & Unruly (News Corp)
  • Future Fifty companies have now raised over $2.5 billion in venture capital funding, including more than $816 million this year, creating 23,000 jobs in total.

Future Fifty companies are still attracting investment:

  • LoopUp was the first post-Brexit tech IPO and the first Future Fifty company to be listed on AIM
  • Deliveroo raised a $275 million Series E round from international investors, and Notonthehighstreet raised $27 million
  • Earlier this year Swiftkey was acquired by Microsoft for $250 million; One Fine Stay was acquired by Accor Group; Housetrip was acquired by Trip Advisor, and FarFetch raised $110M Series F round. In late 2015, Unruly was acquired by News Corp.

What is Upscale?

If you’re at an earlier stage on the startup journey, take a look at Upscale. It will help 30 promising business ideas begin to scale. For the Upscale programme, we have recruited some of the UK’s best known digital entrepreneurs to work as Scale Coaches.

  • New mentors include Candy Crush creator Riccardo Zacconi, founder and CEO of games developer Founders of Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman, now CEO of FounderFactory and Forum, and Michael Acton Smith, founder of Mind Candy.
  • Several Future Fifty alumni have also joined as Scale Coaches of the programme including Lesley Eccles, co-founder of, Jess Butcher, co-founder and director of Blippar, David Buttress, CEO if JustEat and Anne-Marie Huby, Co-Founder of JustGiving.
  • Other coaches include: Simon Calver, ex-CEO of LoveFilm & Saul Klein, ex-general partner at Index Ventures and now at LocalGlobe, Wendy Tan White, ex-CEO and co-founder of MoonFruit and now General Partner at Entrepreneur First, and Greg Marsh, founder of OneFineStay
  • Previous coaches include Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype, Brad Feld, co-founder of TechStars, and Future Fifty alumni Sarah Wood, co-founder & CEO of Unruly.

The calibre of our coaches on Upscale is testimony to the success of Future Fifty.

From our Upscale Programme 1.0, we have high hopes also of the companies that have been taking part. Firms like Kano, which sells an educational computer kit, Property Partner, a property crowdfunding firm, Seedrs, an online crowdfunding business, and Sybentix, a behavioural analysis platform for banks and hedge funds managers have huge potential.

So what do you get?

Scale-ups and entrepreneurs on Future Fifty and Upscale will:

  • benefit from networking with like-minded tech entrepreneurs
  • receive coaching and advice from people who have proven track records of bringing successful businesses to scale
  • experience many opportunities to promote their business through international and national networks
  • get access to key contacts in the Government’s business services, including help with visa applications

On Upscale there is a chance to strengthen the management skills of your whole team. You will take part in as many as 30 sessions and socials, that are designed around your specific needs. You will be thinking about how to scale your company culture, retain your star players and recruit high quality people at scale.You’ll get help with the challenges you face, including maintaining team morale, managing the board, raising future funds and taking the company global.

Together with other companies in the same position, you will learn from our 18 highly experienced coaches just how to grow your business. It’s knowledge that would take years to accumulate through trial and error.

Here’s what Alex Klein, chief executive and founder of Kano, thought of the programme:

“Upscale has been a great programme allowing the team and I to connect with other founders and peers going through the same scaling journey, while being mentored by experts who have been through it all before. One standout session for me was hearing from Stephen Rapoport and his frank story of the growth and challenges at Pact Coffee. I’d urge any founder to consider Upscale for their company.”

Sarah Wood, co-founder of Unruly, was a graduate of the Future Fifty programme before going on to sell Unruly to media giant News Corp for £58 million. She says:

“As well as putting you on the map as a high-growth tech company, being part of the Future Fifty brings the opportunity to learn from an incredible cohort of talented peers and entrepreneurs who have experienced first hand the challenges of scaling up. Plus, there are practical benefits such as fast-track access to visa support. This is enormously helpful when you’re entering new markets. For any UK company looking to raise their profile, power up their network and expedite business growth, Future Fifty is a must.”

If your business is ready to join either of these programmes, there’s never been a better time to get started.

Apply now

So how do you get on to these two prestigious and free programmes? Applications open on 3 November and will close on 7 December.

To qualify for Future Fifty, digital businesses must:

  • Be headquartered in the UK
  • Have an annual revenue of over £5 million
  • Be growing 30 per cent year-on-year

To apply for Upscale, tech companies must:

  • Be headquartered in the UK
  • Demonstrate a high level of month-on-month growth in their key business metrics (>30 percent month on month for the last 6 months)
  • Have completed a Series A or equivalent in funding
  • Bootstrapped businesses can also apply if they have £500,00 revenues

Successful applicants will be notified in January and winners will be announced later in the month. Tech City UK takes no equity stake in the companies selected to join its programmes.

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