Ones to Watch in 2021: The 33 UK scaleups joining the prestigious Upscale programme

Tech Nation, January 27, 2021 11 min read

It is with great excitement that we introduce the 33 UK scaleups that have been selected to join Upscale 6.0. Upscale is one of our flagship growth programmes, focused on helping the fastest growing mid-stage tech companies in the UK to tackle their key scaling challenges.

“We’re incredibly excited to launch Upscale 6.0, our most regionally diverse cohort ever, alongside the Scale Ratio Report, and to continue to champion and support the UK’s most exciting fast-growth companies. 

Despite the events of the last 12 months, we’re seeing some exceptional companies scaling at Series A stage, with healthtech and the future of work being represented particularly strongly. We’re excited to adapt Upscale to support the new challenges that founders are facing around remote work, fundraising and culture; and to work with such an exciting group of leaders.” Liam Ward, Upscale Programme Lead, Tech Nation

The Upscale programme has a prestigious reputation, having featured companies like Monzo, Bulb and Depop in the past, and with last year’s cohort including such scaling stars as Thriva, Chattermill, Kheiron Medical and Farewill. With that in mind, the 33 companies chosen by our panel of tech and scaling experts, which included Cherry Freeman, co-founder of Lovecrafts, Dominic Jacquesson, VP of Talent at Index, and Bloom & Wild co-founder Aron Gelbard, are certain to be the scaling stars of 2021.

“I was thrilled to take part in the judging process for Upscale this year and see how competitive the applications were. Our leadership team really benefited from our time on Upscale in 2016, and now as an alumni of the programme, it’s great to be able to share my experience scaling Bloom & Wild as both a judge and speaker with a new group of founders scaling the UK’s most exciting companies.” Aron Gelbard, co-founder,  Bloom & Wild

The Upscale programme is supported by Cooley, Cooper Parry and Silicon Valley Bank, who will provide invaluable support and insights to the Upscale 6.0 cohort.

Looking at Scale Ratio

Today also sees the release of Tech Nation’s latest insights report, the Scale Ratio. The Scale Ratio explores the UK’s tech ecosystems to understand the distribution of investment raised and business counts across seed stage, early growth and late growth companies. 

These new figures show the resilience and potential of the UK’s regional tech hubs which continue to create new investment and jobs.

“We are working hard to create the right business environment through skills and talent training, investment in digital infrastructure, and research and development, so we can build back better from the pandemic.”Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage

Crucially, the Scale Ratio tells us about the growth potential of the UK’s tech hubs and provides the levelling up agenda with new evidence to boost regional ecosystem development. It highlights exactly where scaleups are not receiving the funding they need to grow from seed stage upwards to ensure these gaps are plugged. Despite the challenges of the past 12 months, the growth and potential of homegrown tech pioneers gives us something to celebrate.

“Tech scaleups hold the key to the UK’s competitiveness in the next decade through job creation and investment. Scaleups are already driving investment into UK tech, representing 81% of the UK total and creating employment, with approximately 150,000 jobs in 2019. From established firms to startups, it’s important to remember that companies at all stages make up the local and regional economies that give UK tech its global reputation.” Dr. George Windsor, Head of Insights, Tech Nation

It shows that the most successful tech hubs and sectors (by number of companies, and total VC investment) tend to exhibit a common Scale Ratio of: 50% seed stage companies, 30% early growth and 20% late growth (50:30:20). This has been identified as indicative of the most balanced pipeline for accelerating the growth of late stage companies, while nurturing the pipeline of seed stage entrepreneurs. Belfast, Newcastle and Exeter are pinpointed as the tech hubs to watch in 2021, with the highest growth potential Scale Ratios by business count. 

Read the full report.

Emerging trends

The Upscale 6.0 cohort, which features the UK’s best performing tech companies, is skewed towards healthtech companies, representing 18% of the total cohort. It reflects how healthtech companies have come to the fore of UK tech, especially in the wake of the pandemic. 

The UK is now third in the world for healthtech investment after the US and China, and over the course of 2020 we saw an increase in early stage investment, from $2.27bn in 2019 to $2.32bn in 2020. 

Healthtech companies joining the Upscale programme include: London-based LabGenius, which develops new protein-based drugs using machine learning – lowering the associated costs and risks of drug development; Belfast-based Locate a Locum, which enables temporary healthcare workers to connect; and Oxford-based Vitaccess, a platform which quantifies patients’ experiences of treatments and illness.

The stats

The facts and figures behind the Upscale 6.0 cohort

The 6.0 cohort is the most regionally diverse cohort we have ever had, with 48% of the companies based outside of London. It’s exciting to see so many high quality scaleups spread across the UK – hailing from Belfast, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford

In addition to this being the most regionally diverse Upscale cohort yet, 27% companies have a female founder or CEO, and the average number of employees is 45. The average funds raised stands at £8.3m, which is up from £7.5m last year, and the average revenue is £1.7m.

Meet the cohort

accuRx (London, Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences)
Founders: Jacob Haddad, Laurence Bargery
Bringing patients and their healthcare teams together, accuRX is making patients healthier, staff happier and health systems more efficient. Today, healthcare is a communication industry – it’s where the value is added, where staff spend their time and good communication is crucial to deliver good care. accuRX’s platform powers communications between patients and their healthcare professionals.

Atom Learning (London, Edtech)
Founders: Jake O’Keeffe, Alex Hatvany, Tim Osborne, Flo Simpson
Providing affordable, high quality education for primary school students, Atom Learning is an online learning platform that covers Maths, English, and Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. Filled with exceptional, teacher-made content, its smart, machine learning algorithm keeps students on their optimal learning path. The goal is to provide all students, regardless of location and background, with a high quality, affordable learning resource.

Bidnamic (Leeds, Adtech & Marketing)
Founder: Ingvar Kraatz
Unlocking the full potential of Google Shopping, Bidnamic is an AI marketing platform that helps retailers outrank competitors. Bidnamic uses machine learning to profile every single product to predict its optimal bid value algorithmically, applying real-time performance analysis and high-frequency bid management. It increases ad spend efficiency, market share and revenue, decreases costs, and enables the full revenue potential of every product.

Blink (London, Enterprise SaaS)
Founder: Sean Nolan
Building the frontline of the future, Blink is addressing the biggest pain point for frontline businesses: key workers who are disconnected and unengaged. Accessible through a mobile app, it connects frontline workers to the wider business; equipping them with the information they need; and empowering them with the recognition they deserve.

Brytlyt (Ashford, Data Analytics & Business Intelligence)
Founders: Maria Borg and Richard Heyns
Empowering transformational insights for businesses at the speed of thought, Brytlyt’s software allows businesses to accelerate database operations up to 1,000 x faster than legacy systems, by leveraging the power of graphics processor units. Its database has been independently benchmarked as the world’s fastest, and is built on top of the world’s most popular open-source database.

ClauseMatch (London, Fintech)
Founders: Andrey Dokuchaev and Evgeny Likhoded
ClauseMatch is a global leader in policy management and compliance automation. The AI-powered smart document collaboration platform enables regulated organisations to comply with their internal corporate governance documentation (policies, standards, procedures, controls). 

E-days (Nottingham, HRtech)
Founders: Steve Arnold and Chris Moseley
Absence matters, whether it’s unplanned or planned – but managing or booking time off can feel like a complex and problematic experience. E-days are transforming the way companies manage absence, and how people experience absence. They’re on a mission to lessen the pain and provide the tools, support and reporting for people to work smarter, happier and healthier.

Exonar (Reading, Data Analytics & Business Intelligence)
CEO: Danny Reeves
Due to the exponential increase in the volume of information and data generated and held by companies in the digital age, every company is now a data company. This elevates the risk of privacy and security breaches and fines, while diminishing organisations’ ability to harness the value of its own information. Exonar allows organisations to find structured and unstructured data from any source, with unrivalled scale and detail.

Gravity Sketch (London, Digital Entertainment/Creative Tech)
Founders: Oluwaseyi Sosanya, Daniela Paredes Fuentes and Daniel Thomas
Creating and collaborating in 3D radically improves the efficacy and efficiency of developing physical products. Gravity Sketch is an intuitive 3D design platform that allows cross-disciplinary teams to create, collaborate, and review in an entirely new way. It removes friction from outdated workflows, helps enhance and expedite designers’ creative intent, and makes collaboration in cross-functional teams faster and more cost-effective.

iProov (London, Cybersecurity)
Founder: Andrew Bud
Protecting the identity of online users with secure authentication and great usability, iProov assures the user is genuinely present when they verify their face or palm. It detects copies, replays and deep fakes, and is already trusted by banks and Governments worldwide.

Judopay (London, Fintech)
CEO: Jeremy Nicholds
Judopay is the leading ‘mobile centric’ payments platform, making payment tech more accessible for businesses and consumers. Connecting to more than 100 payment and technology partners, a single integration to Judopay opens the door to easy international expansion, the best fraud solutions, a full range of alternative payment methods, business intelligence and analytics, and other innovative payment technology.

LabGenius (London, Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences)
Founder: James Field
A revolution in the evolution of protein therapeutics, LabGenius develops new protein-based drugs (biologics) using their novel machine learning-driven drug discovery platform. They are drastically lowering the cost and risk associated with developing completely novel protein therapeutics, allowing them to deliver new therapeutics to many patients who don’t have access to effective treatments.

Laka (London, Insurtech)
Founders: Tobias Taupitz, Jens Hartwig and Ben Allen
Laka has turned insurance upside down by no longer charging customers premiums upfront. The Laka Collective (aka their customers) contribute a share of the actual claims cost incurred in a month, in a system that is fair, transparent, and democratic. The goal is to offer better and more affordable insurance and related services.

Leaf Grow (Newcastle, Adtech & Marketing)
Founder: Gilbert Corrales, Helga Alvarez, Wesley Hartley, Daniel Salas, and Melvin Salas
Enabling smarter social marketing, Leaf Grow empowers online businesses, big and small, to drive profitable, sustainable revenues and brand growth from their paid social advertising. Its proprietary technology helps businesses do more, with better results, in less time.

Locate a Locum (Belfast, Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences)
Founder:  Jonny Clarke
Mobilising the world’s healthcare workforce, Locate a Locum allows temporary healthcare workers and organisations to connect with each other in an easy and efficient way. Working to empower the workforce, they are giving every healthcare worker and healthcare organisation the power to manage their own work life. 

Molo (London, Fintech)
Founder: Francesca Carlesi
Molo is the UK’s first digital mortgage lender, using the power of technology and data to allow customers to get a mortgage online in a matter of minutes, rather than weeks. To achieve this, Molo has been built as a full stack lender (not a broker), going to market through a direct proposition (B2C), and leveraging their proprietary tech platform to provide customers with real time decisioning on their mortgage.

Navenio (Oxford, Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences)
Founders: Tim Weil and Niki Trigoni
Changing the way we experience the indoor world, Navenio is transforming hospitals globally by enabling healthcare teams to be in the right place at the right time, delivering the very best in patient care. Navenio’s system tasks healthcare staff and teams based on their location, achieving dramatic results where output is doubled, hidden capacity is unlocked and services to patients and between teams are transformed to new heights.

One Team Logic (Cardiff, Edtech)
Founders: Martin Baker, Mike Glanville and Darryl Morton
Safeguarding children and adults around the world from abuse, harm and neglect, One Team Logic combines the best technologies with world-class safeguarding expertise. The core product, MyConcern, is used by organisations such as schools, training organisations, national sporting bodies and religious organisations globally to record, monitor and manage safeguard concerns about children. 

Orka (Manchester, Ecommerce & Marketplace)
Founders: Tom Pickersgill, Nick Groves and James Doyle
The way people want to work is changing, but the processes and tools that companies use to hire hourly workers have not. Orka builds products designed specifically for hourly workers, solving challenges around high-turnover, high-volumes and high-velocity employment within traditional industries, and unlocking full workforces’ potential.

Red Sift (London, Cybersecurity)
Founders: Randal Pinto and Rahul Powar
Red Sift is building an open cloud platform that makes cybersecurity accessible to everyone, because they believe the answer to stopping the rise of cyber attacks is through computers, not consultants. Their platform helps people use the latest technology, like AI and Machine Learning, to unlock data that already exists about threats, and turn them into active protection.

Riverlane (Cambridge, Deeptech)
Founder: Steve Brierley
Pioneering quantum software, Riverlane is building the operating system for quantum computers. Over the next year their operating system will run on 20% of the world’s quantum computers, with an ultimate mission to run every program on every quantum computer in the world.

Rovco (Bristol, Energy)
Founder: Brian Allen
As the energy market evolves, Rovco is disrupting the sector, combining innovative robotic platforms and cutting-edge technology to support energy transitions. Rovco are pushing the boundaries of offshore robotics, optimising operations and reducing the need for offshore teams. They support clients automation and decarbonisation strategies, driving operational efficiency, saving money and time. 

Second Nature (London, Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences)
Founders: Chris Edson and Mike Gibbs
Making healthy living second nature, Second Nature helps people lose weight in a healthy way. Providing people with world class technology and coaching to help them achieve their goals, their vision is to eradicate obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Sensat (London, Artificial Intelligence)
Founders: James Dean and Harry Atkinson
Providing industries with the understanding to shape a sustainable world, Sensat is building an intelligent eco-system that translates the real world into a version understandable to AI. This technology will help us to build a more sustainable future, using the wealth of new insight to help humans make better decisions.

Speechmatics (Cambridge, Deeptech)
CEO: Katy Wigdahl
Powering applications that require mission-critical, accurate speech recognition, Speechmatics®’ any-context speech recognition engine processes millions of hours of transcription worldwide every month in more than 30 languages. Their speech recognition technology is used by enterprises in scenarios such as contact centres, CRM, consumer electronics, security, media & entertainment and software.

Superscript (London, Insurtech)
Founders: Cameron Shearer and Ben Rose
Superscript is a business insurance challenger, with an ambition to be the global leader of small business insurance. It provides personalised, flexible and scalable subscription-based insurance designed specifically to meet the ever-evolving needs of ambitious businesses. Modernising the broken insurance experience, Superscript simplifies and puts customers at the heart of the insurance journey.

Tillo (Brighton and Hove, Fintech)
Founders: Alex Preece and Gareth Gillatt
Powering the future of gift cards, Tillo connects the world’s most popular brands with businesses looking for exciting new ways to reward and incentivise. Unlocking a world of new opportunity to drive sales and reach new global audiences, their digital platform connects brands with businesses across its extensive network, opening up multiple new distribution channels and allowing them to manage sales, all in real-time.

Total Processing (Manchester, Fintech)
Founder: Matthew Hamer
Providing complete global coverage, Total Processing is proudly pioneering a payment strategy for local and multinational businesses, through access to the world’s leading payment gateway and acquiring options, with built-in risk management and data analytics. Their accredited network of strategic partners provides businesses of all sizes with a fully integrated omnichannel software solution called Total Control. 

Unmind (London, HRtech)
Founders: Nick Taylor and Steve Peralta
Unmind helps employees to lead more fulfilling and balanced lives by changing the way organisations think about mental health. Their workplace mental health platform empowers employees to measure, understand, and improve their mental wellbeing.

Virti (Bristol, Edtech)
Founder: Alex Young
Virti uses XR, artificial intelligence and gamification to help employees learn faster and remember training for longer. Virti’s mission is to make experiential education affordable and accessible for everyone. It uses virtual and augmented reality coupled with AI to transport users into difficult to access environments and safely assesses them under pressure to improve their performance. 

Vitaccess (Oxford, Healthtech & Biotech & Life Sciences)
Founders: Mark Larkin, Helen Williams
Giving patients a voice, Vitaccess are creating powerful, real-world evidence platforms to quantify patients’ experience of treatments and illness. Their smartphone app and real-time data analytics dashboards together provide biopharmaceutical clients with evidence of how drugs and treatments affect patients’ quality of life every day, outside of the clinical setting. 

Vizibl (London, Enterprise SaaS)
Founders: Mark Perera and Alex Short
Helping companies to work better, together, Vizibl is the world’s leading supplier collaboration and innovation platform. It allows both buyers and suppliers to manage all aspects of their relationship more effectively to deliver mutual value. Vizibl’s software makes every aspect of the relationship life-cycle transparent, so that enterprise companies can align on their governance, strategy and develop great ideas together with their partner ecosystem.

YuLife (London, Insurtech)
Founders: Sammy Rubin, Josh Hart, Jaco Oosthuizen, Jonathan Roomer and Sam Fromson
YuLife is on a mission to inspire life, and turn financial products into a force for good. By harnessing the power of gamification and behavioural science, YuLife insurance rewards healthy living and puts everyday wellness within reach of everyone. It equips members with a game-like app to access discounts and vouchers from leading brands in return for completing everyday wellness activities, thus incentivizing healthy living.

News & Topics, Programmes, Tech Nation news, Mid Stage , , , , , ,