Applications are now open for Tech Nation’s flagship growth programmes

Tech Nation, September 15, 2020 5 min read

Today we are delighted to open applications for our three flagship growth programmes: Rising Stars 3.0, Upscale 6.0 and Future Fifty 9.0.

The global pandemic has changed the world, and some aspects of our lives may never return to the way they were before. While many industries have suffered, tech seems to have fared well, with the number of advertised tech job vacancies increasing by 36% between June and August 2020

Regardless of the resilience of the UK tech industry, in times of uncertainty receiving tailored, stage-specific support becomes even more essential for continuing to grow and scale your company. Our flagship growth programmes offer exactly this, catering to venture-backed and bootstrapped scaling startups and scaleups at Seed, Series A and Series B+ stages or equivalent. 

Parveen Dhanda, Head of Programmes at Tech Nation said “Now more than ever, it is important that the companies we support through our Tech Nation flagship growth programmes learn from their peers as well as those who have scaled digital companies. We have a strong network of 600 companies who have been through our programmes at different stages of their growth. Collectively they have raised £20 Bn, had 9 IPOs and over 30 M&As. We are excited for the next crop of top UK digital companies who will join our growth programmes” 

Our growth programmes offer invaluable, specialised support, as well as priceless opportunities to network and consult with experts, and essential peer-to-peer learning. Tech Nation is so proud of the alumni network of companies who have been through our programmes, so if you fit the bill for either Rising Stars 3.0, Upscale 6.0 or Future Fifty 9.0, apply to become a part of the Tech Nation family.

Rising Stars 3.0

Rising Stars is our pitch competition for early-stage, innovative tech companies from across the UK. Now in its third year, the third iteration will see the competition expand and (due to the global pandemic) go 100% virtual.


The first two Rising Stars competitions had three semi-finalists from each region. This year for Rising Stars 3.0, we are expanding that number to five, meaning a grand total of 55 companies will make it to the semi-final stage. We are so excited to be able to showcase and give a platform to even more companies this year.

From the 55 semi-finalists, 20 finalists will move on to the final to make their final pitch to become one of 10 Rising Stars winners. The winners will receive an impressive prize package including facilitated introductions to investors, speaking opportunities and national press coverage. Previous winners include Seed Legals, Neatebox and Talking Medicines. Applications close on 20th October 2020.

Esme Caulfield, Programme Lead for Rising Stars said “Rising Stars 3.0 takes the competition to the next level.  We have gone 100% virtual and increased the number of Regional Winners – to recognise the many exciting early stage scaleups in every town and city of the UK.  Companies in the competition will have increased exposure and visibility and opportunities to meet investors through initiatives such as a Rising Stars VC Office Hours event.  We are incredibly excited about launching this years competition and raising the profile of even more fantastic early stage tech companies” 

The Criteria

  • Seed to pre-Series A funding stage
  • OR If revenue focused, generating annual revenues below £1m
  • A digital tech business with a product or service to sell (no agencies or consultancies, sorry)
  • At least one active client or pilot
  • Able to demonstrate market traction
  • Company incorporated between 1-3 years
  • UK HQ

“Rising Stars was crucial in helping us perfect our pitch. After we won we sent around our winning pitch to investors and managed to very quickly close our Seed Round.” Tim Edwards, CEO and Co-Founder of Codices, and Rising Stars 2.0 Winner

Apply now

Upscale 6.0

Upscale is our growth programme for mid-stage tech companies, helping the UK’s fastest growing companies scale faster, together. Selecting the UK’s most promising tech companies, Upscale helps them accelerate their growth and unlock key scaling challenges. Upscale has a seriously impressive list of scale coaches and experts, and is meticulously designed to reflect tech companies’ scaling journey.


As well as learning from Upscale’s scale coaches and experts, the programme also offers invaluable opportunities to network with peers, alongside the prestige of becoming part of the Tech Nation Alumni. Last year’s Upscale cohort included Peanut, Oddbox, Whitehat, Farewill and Thriva. Upscale 6.0 will be supported by Silicon Valley Bank and Cooley, who will bring their valuable time and expertise to assist and advise the cohort.

Just like all our growth programmes, Upscale is free, and we don’t take an equity stake in any businesses that join. Applications close on 27th October 2020.

Liam Ward, Programme Lead for Upscale said “We’re really excited to announce the launch of applications for the Upscale 6.0 programme. Over the last 6 months, the already difficult scaling journey for fast-growing tech companies has got even tougher, so now more than ever the support Upscale provides companies is crucial for founders and senior leadership teams. As tech companies lead the economic recovery from COVID, we’re excited to work with some of the UK’s most promising scaleups to help them unlock the keys to scaling successfully”

The Criteria

  • VC backed, having raised Series A round
  • OR revenue focused and generating £1.5m – £5m
  • Headquartered in the UK

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
  • Aspirational for substantial national or international growth

“I can wholeheartedly recommend the Upscale programme to anyone who is fortunate to join it. The presentations and discussion groups led by those who had “been there before” were first class. And the space to share stories with other founders and to work through the challenges we faced was invaluable” Safe Hammad, Co-Founder, Arctic Shores

Apply now

Future Fifty 9.0

Future Fifty is the UK’s leading late-stage growth programme, designed to support founders and leadership teams address the unique challenges faced by the most successful tech companies in the country. When tech companies reach late-stage, the stakes are high, and tailor made guidance from those who’ve been there and done it can be the key to unlocking vital answers.


The Future Fifty programme delivers valuable peer-to-peer learning and facilitates an open dialogue between experienced entrepreneurs and founders. Participating companies attend in-depth masterclass sessions run by seasoned coaches, who can provide essential guidance.

Ana Lucia Buckman, Programme Lead for Future Fifty said “Future Fifty is a unique opportunity to join a network of the largest and most successful UK tech companies. We’re proud of the strength of our network, the ever increasing quality of our programme, and the new opportunities the programme provides for our companies. The next year looks to be extremely important for UK tech, and the support we can offer scaling companies is now even more vital for their growth and success” 

As with all our growth programmes, Future Fifty is free to join and we do not take an equity stake in your company. Successful companies will join the ranks of household names such as Monzo, Bulb, Deliveroo, and Zoopla. Together, the Future Fifty have the opportunity to become a powerhouse community in the global tech economy. Applications close on 16th November 2020.

The Criteria

  • Series B+ funding stage
  • OR If revenue focused, generating annual revenues over £5m
  • Achieving 50% year-on-year growth
  • HQ’d in UK

“Being part of Future Fifty not only provides us with direct benefits, such as peer-learning, but ensures that our experiences help shape the wider scale-up ecosystem.” Rhydian Lewis CEO, RateSetter (London)

Apply now

Not sure which growth programme your company fits into? Try our snazzy selector tool.

If you’re looking for further information on applying, take a look at our application guide. And if you are in the middle of your own scaling journey, use our Ultimate Guide to Scaling for advice and resources.

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