How companies in London have benefitted from Tech Nation’s growth programmes

Kane Fulton, September 23, 2019 6 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 Eoin Marsh 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 London 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

Anthony Rose, founder and CEO, SeedLegals

“There were three reasons we entered Rising Stars. One, it raises your profile and spreads your name among other startups and investors. Two, being involved with Tech Nation is a great stamp of approval and builds trust and recognition. Finally, there is a feel good factor in Rising Stars – our staff get excited by it, and it’s interesting to take part!”

Elly Zhang, Director of Partnerships, Heliocor

“Rising Stars gave us an opportunity to get exposure in the UK market.We also received good training on how to pitch – it was a practising opportunity and we can now pitch on stage. We didn’t win the competition, but it increased our experience and we learnt a lot of stuff while making friends with other companies in Tech Nation’s network.

“Also, through Rising Stars we started to gradually generate exposure. Afterwards we went to China to attend tech entrepreneur competitions, calling ourselves one of the Tech Nation Rising Stars companies – and people in the Chinese tech industry recognised the name and brand. China’s government recognises us too, which will make it much easier to get into that market.”


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

Tessa Clarke, cofounder and CEO, Olio

“Upscale was a brilliant combination of workshops and peer-to-peer networking. But what really set it apart was the fact that all our functional heads could join the programme and benefit too, so it really helped us raise the bar across the whole organisation. Perhaps the most powerful thing Upscale has given me, is a support network of founders who are available to provide instant advice and words of wisdom, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s absolutely priceless!”

Hayden Wood, cofounder and CEO, Bulb

“Upscale is a truly unique and hugely valuable programme. It’s hard to get in and you have to commit time to get the most out of it, but the investment is well worth it. The advice we’ve received and the friendships we’ve made have been invaluable.”

Tamara Rajah, founder and CEO, Live Better With

“Upscale helped me see what’s coming on the road ahead as we scale so I can plan accordingly (whether that’s around strategy, team, or processes, etc) and also avoid any pitfalls that others have encountered. It’s also provided a network of founders to ask the things that can only be answered by having gone through them.”

Rob O’Donovan, cofounder and CEO, CharlieHR

“What makes Upscale so great is its focus on the company as a whole, rather than just the founders. It meant that everyone across the business could benefit and we could collectively use the amazing resources they provide to make real progress as a team.”

Nikhil Shah, cofounder, Mixcloud

“I’m so glad we participated in the Upscale program. It helped a number of people in the business get away from the day to day and spend time thinking and learning with peers and experts. On a personal note, I’ve made some special new bonds that are continuing to deepen over time.”

George Graham, CEO and cofounder, Wolf & Badger

“Upscale was a great experience for so many different members of the Wolf & Badger team, not just the founders. Everyone got different things out of it and we’ve now expanded into the United States. We’re looking forward to staying in close contact with other Upscale teams as we continue to scale!”

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

Seema Desai, COO, Iwoca

“Future Fifty was really helpful when we were thinking of opening an office outside of London. We were wondering how to do this well and what we could learn from other companies who have done this already.

“Through the programme we met Parveen Dhanda, who put me in touch with people from Tech Nation. They were super helpful with sharing information such as the cost of office space, recruitment salaries and grant opportunities for various regions which saved us from having to aggregate all of this information ourselves.

“This support has helped us to accelerate our decision on where we might open our new office, so thank you to Future Fifty and Tech Nation for all your help!”

Jose Neves, CEO, Farfetch

“Future Fifty is a fantastic network of great people and companies. There is great support from the government which is doing a fantastic job for the UK tech industry.”

Rhydian Lewis, CEO, RateSetter

“Being part of Future Fifty not only provided us with direct benefits, such as peer-learning, but it also ensured that our experiences help shape the wider scale-up ecosystem.’

Alice Newton-Rex, head of product, WorldRemit

“The really important stuff to us is the access Future Fifty gives us to companies of a similar size and the voice into government; it’s about more than just the accolade of having ‘made it’.”

Aaron Gelbard, CEO, Bloom & Wild

“Future Fifty had good events with an eclectic selection of people at them, and there was a wide selection of companies on the programme itself. It was well-connected and we found it great for building our profile.”

Community, London