Calling All Welsh Tech Companies: Growth Programmes Open Applications


Tech Nation, the UK’s leading network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, has announced it is calling for applicants for three of the UK’s most renowned 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.

Scaleup deals delivered 80% of all tech investments in the UK in 2018, equivalent to £5bn of just over £6bn. 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.

Gino Brancazio, Wales Entrepreneur Engagement Manager, Tech Nation commented:

“Welsh innovation has never been more rapid, and the race to become Wales’ first tech unicorn is well and truly on. Tech Nation’s startup competition Rising Stars, and scaleup programmes Upscale and Future Fifty, offer tech companies from across Wales the chance to accelerate their growth with tailored support from industry experts and peers. With Tech Nation alumni already including Swansea’s Veeqo, Caerphilly’s Awen Collective and Cardiff’s Delio, I hope to see many more familiar names joining the Tech Nation cohorts this year, and encourage all Welsh tech companies to take a look at the brilliant opportunities on offer.”

Gary Swale, CEO & Founder, Inspirze, Wrexham commented:

“It was a huge honour to be involved and get to semi-finalist stage – it really validated what we are trying to do as a business and was a good moral boost.”