Find all the support and guidance you need for applying to a Tech Nation growth programme, in one place.
About the Application
How long does the application take to fill out?
We suggest you spend about an hour to fill out your application. Giving someone a clear and concise view of your business takes focus and dedication.
What will you do with the information we give you?
All data contained in this application will remain strictly private and confidential, and will not be shared outside of the judging panel. If there are any judges you think might present a conflict of interest, please do let us know.
Can I do it in more than one sitting?
We suggest you do! Review your answers and have a friend who is not familiar with your business read through the application – does it make sense to them? If not, it probably won’t for other people.
How much detail should I include?
You can be as detailed as you like, but ideally, it should not take a judge more than 15 minutes to read through your application. No matter the programme you’re applying for, here are a few basic things you should focus on:
- Avoid jargon and don’t be too technical
- Demonstrating good market knowledge and the ability to benchmark your company against a well-known business
- Focus on being open and honest about your business, don’t just say what the judges want to hear.
- Focus on communicating the reason why there is a need for your product or service
- You need to demonstrate that you have good traction, your achievements and product-market fit to support this.
- Show us the data! The more data points that you can add, the better. Sometimes the language used can be very sales-based, which can be hard to follow. Facts are more impactful and often more useful.
What if I don’t know which programme to apply for?
There are certain entry requirements for each programme, based on where you are in your scaling journey. Check which one would be the perfect fit for your business here.
Want some more in-depth information on the programme you’re thinking about applying for? Contact the Entrepreneur Engagement Manager in your local area:
Speak to the programme leads to learn even more about the option that might be just right for you:
Timescales and communication
What important dates should I be aware of?
- Applications open: 15th of September 2020
- Applications close: 4 p.m on 20th of October 2020
- Judging period > regional winners: November 2020
- Applications open: 15th of September 2020
- Applications close: 4 p.m on 27th of October 2020
- Judging period: November & December 2020
- Applications open: 15th of September 2020
- Applications close: 4 p.m on 16th of November 2020
- Judging period: December 2020 & January 2021
When will I be contacted regarding the status of my application?
We will contact you regarding your status within three weeks of the judging process being completed.
- If your application is successful: we will inform you via email, telling you more about what’s in store and how the PR announcement will work.
- If your application was unsuccessful: we will inform you via email. Because of the number of applications we receive, Tech Nation will not be able to offer individual feedback.
*If you haven’t heard from us, please make sure to check your spam filter before contacting us about your application status. Please also ensure you check from the email ID you submitted your application from through.
Your application checklist
Names and brief professional backgrounds of all the founders
A short description of what your company does and links to your websites and social channels if these are active
A high-quality logo:
- Files we prefer: .ai or .eps
- Files that also work: .png and jpeg can work
*Please note: files should be as large as possible.
Your vision, mission and values
Financial & investment info plus investment plans
Defined goal and future plans
Tips for applying to specific programmes
We gathered some tips and guidance from our Programme Leads and our experienced judges on how you can make your application stand out during our sector callout. No matter how many programmes you may be eligible for or plan to apply for, these are their top tips and guidance.
What’s in store for teams that progress to the Regional Winner stage?
- Recognition and visibility achieved through our Regional Winners announcements
- An invitation to our peer-to-peer network extended to Rising Stars 3.0 companies
- Training covering virtual and video pitching, building trust and rapport virtually
- Expert advice and guidance from VCs and angels at VC Office Hours event
- Invitations to attend exclusive Rising Stars online sessions
- Support from our Entrepreneur Engagement Managers
- Becoming part of the Rising Stars alumni and network
- Be considered for a Sector Excellence Award in Fintech, Applied AI, Cyber or Net Zero
What can companies that reach the UK Finalist stage look forward to?
- Recognition and visibility when we announce UK Finalists on the Tech Nation website
- Content curation: Producing a Pitch video, as well as ‘Meet the Founder(s)’ video and showcased through the Rising Stars UK Finalists platform.
- Highly curated audience of investors, corporates, influencers and entrepreneurs
- Being put forward to the Winners Selection Panel who will then go onto select the 10 winners
‘We won another start up competition/award already. Can we apply?’
- You can indeed! We’re looking for the most innovative and exciting early-stage tech companies in the UK. If you already have a win under your belt, chances are you’re exactly the kind of company we’re on the look-out for.
Does the competition apply to a specific sector?
- Rising Stars isn’t sector specific – we welcome all! We just ask that you be a digital tech company and meet the entry requirements. You can check these here.
What content does Upscale cover?
Upscale looks to tackle some of the trickiest challenges faced by scaling companies. Programme content is designed to mirror your scaling journey. We explore foundations, scaling your growth and taking growth to the next level. In Upscale 5.0, key challenges covered included:
- Scaling as a leader
- Hiring talent
- Employer brand
- Progression frameworks & performance management
- International expansion & finance options as a scaling company
We also delivered functional sessions for the leads of marketing, operations, tech, product, finance and HR/talent.
What are we looking for in a prospective Upscale company?
We’re on the hunt for a company that offers an innovative solution to a problem, addressing a large target market, achieving product/market fit highly defensible, hitting either Series A or revenue metric – often both. To get the most out of the programme, you will likely be:
- Rapidly increasing your headcount
- Looking to increase market share
- Planning significant nationwide or international growth.
The selection takes four key areas of criterion into account:
- Value Proposition (problem/solution, TAM, competition)
- Traction to date (revenue or customer acquisition, key metrics, clients)
- Potential to scale (international or national expansion)
- Programme fit (desire from the team to learn & contribute)
As guidance, Upscale typically works with companies experiencing rapid growth approx 10% month-on-month. With COVID, we understand that some companies may have experienced variances over the last 6 months. With that in mind, typical Upscale companies are:
- Looking to significantly increase team size
- Thinking about expanding its customer base or market share
- Aspirations for substantial national or international growth
How will the programme accelerate my growth?
Hearing from those who’ve been through the scaling journey before, and from peers, Upscale will help determine if you’re on-track, going too fast/slow or whether you need to pivot certain business areas. In the last five years of Upscale, many businesses have had in-session ‘Ah-ha!’ moments, or taken a change in direction. This is all thanks to conversations they’ve had or witnessed. These ‘lightbulb’ moments can be transformational to a company as you approach such an inflection point in your growth.
Can a company from any sector apply to Upscale?
Yes! Upscale is a sector agnostic programme. This means we support digital companies from every and any sector. In the past sectors have included:
- Health & biotech
- Saas & more
We support B2B, B2C and B2B2C companies.
Future Fifty applicants
What makes a great application?
A great application for Future Fifty provides clear evidence and articulates what the company does, why it is unique, and why it would be a good fit for the programme. Areas that judges will consider favourably might be:
- Tech leadership: clear demonstration of leadership in your tech sector. What are you doing that gives you a unique proposition and positioning as a tech leader?
- Evidence of growth: a track record showing your growth through revenues, raises, headcount and key metrics.
- Growth potential: In terms of market size, international expansion and acquisition or IPO.
- Leadership team: a C-suite of experienced individuals both commercially and in the tech space, either having growth with the company or with prior specialist or industry experience.
What are the top 3 tips for applications to Future Fifty?
- Be clear in your track record and growth potential. Our judges are entrepreneurs and leaders in the technology & investment space evaluating the best of UK tech, so showcase your achievements.
- Articulate your value proposition and market positioning in layman’s terms. We’re sector agnostic and the applications will be judged by experts in a variety of technology subsectors, they won’t be experts in all of them.
- Showcase your team. At this stage growth potential is often down to your core team and leadership, you’ve no doubt gone to great pains to assemble your C-suite, so highlight them and their track records.
How can you make your application really stand out?
- Rely on evidence and data: At this stage your company has a track record and product market fit, use this clarify why you’re a UK tech leader.
- Detail your growth plans: Detailing your growth plans in your current markets and internationally, raising further funding rounds, acquisitions, IPO, head count increases and revenue projections.
- Focus on your team and leadership as much as your product: You’ve achieved product market fit, further growth and product iteration will be delivered off the back of a stellar team. Tell us about yours.
- Be honest about the challenges you see on the horizon: As you continue to grow you’ll tackle challenge after challenge. Be forthcoming about these. Future Fifty is founded on peer-to-peer learning and we leverage a powerful network of over 150 companies to solve problems. So tell us how we can help you.
What common pitfalls to look out for when applying?
- Missing information or vague answers: Make it easy for judges to evaluate your application against other companies. Be concise, answer in layman’s terms backed up by clear data.
- Let your ambition and purpose come through: At this stage you’re usually a large team, ensure the original purpose and drive to be a leader in your space comes across.