How companies in the South East have benefitted from Tech Nation’s growth programmes

Kane Fulton, September 23, 2019 4 min read

You may have noticed that we recently opened applications for three of the UK’s most renowned growth programmes – Rising Stars, Upscale and Future Fifty.

They’re all designed to scale and grow the next generation of tech businesses based in the country, each offering tailored solutions to the biggest challenges facing UK companies – from access to networks and investors to hiring top talent, and expanding internationally.

If you would like to discuss anything about them – from applying to timescales and everything in-between –  your local Entrepreneur Engagement Manager Elizabeth Corse is happy to help.

Additionally, to better help you understand how appearing on a programme could benefit you and your scaleup, we’ve asked our alumni founders in the South East to share their insight and experiences. Here’s what they had to say.

Rising Stars

Rising Stars is the UK’s most exciting competition for innovative, early-stage tech companies, designed to take your business to the next level. With a prize package built to significantly raise the profile and awareness of the winning companies on both a national and international level, you’ll also be given the opportunity to connect with top investors, influencers and corporates. Applications for Rising Stars 2.0 are now open. Apply today

Roy Azoulay, CEO and founder, Serelay

“For us, the biggest impact of Rising Stars has been getting the recognition that comes with being a part of an elite group of companies. Looking at its other alumni certainly makes us proud to be named alongside them.

“I think the Rising Stars team worked very hard to make the application process amenable to startups which are always very short on time. I think that also rang true throughout the programme – they realise that your time and resources are limited and work to augment and work around that.”

Jonathon Barrowman, Founder and CEO, Gorilla In The Room

“Rising Stars increased our profile within the tech and investment sector, with the recognition validating our value proposition and business model. The sheer number of startups in the UK is amazing, and it was a revelation to see so many people disrupting so many sectors. My advice is to approach Rising Stars as an investment pitch – it’s well-tailored to fundraising so make sure you’re ready!”

“When it came to pitching, the challenge of unpacking our value proposition in three minutes, with three charts, was invaluable. We combine behavioural economics and consumer research with immersive tech – so to nail it in three minutes was an achievement. Watching other start-ups pitch their businesses, we also gained valuable insight into the optimum time to raise funding based on key milestones.”


Upscale helps the UK’s most promising tech companies to accelerate their growth and unlock the key to scaling successfully. Based on values of honesty, intimacy and trust, this established, curated programme is designed to reflect companies’ scaling journey. Companies explore fundamental growth challenges with peers and benefit from sessions delivered by expert scale coaches who have been through it all. Applications for Upscale 5.0 are now open. Apply today

Rafel Jorda Siquier, Open Cosmos

“Scaling up is one of the challenges that any ambitious company needs to go through. Upscale is valuable as it lets you hear the advice from those who have scaled up most successfully and those who are going through it like you.”

Neil Witten, CTO and cofounder, StoryStream

“Upscale has been invaluable. The candid insight shared by other founders and by the incredible list of successful entrepreneurs running sessions throughout the programme has added huge benefit to the way we’re building our business.”

Future Fifty

Future Fifty is the UK’s leading late-stage growth programme, bringing together the country’s most successful tech companies to build a powerful network and problem-solve with peers. With the help of the tech community, the programme supports these companies in achieving their global ambitions, creating jobs and opportunities across the UK, and inspiring the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, founders and businesses. Applications for Future Fifty 8.0 are now open. Apply today

Giles Palmer, CEO, Brandwatch

“Future Fifty helped us by allowing us to speak to other people who are going through similar experiences and sharing anxieties and challenges.”

Community, South East