UK’s most exciting scaleups join the prestigious Upscale programme


After a nationwide call-out and an intensive and thorough judging process, we are delighted to announce the 30 companies joining Tech Nation’s flagship programme for mid-stage, fast-growing tech companies: Upscale 5.0.

“The UK has a fantastic track record of producing globally successful tech companies and this is another strong group of firms that will benefit from Tech Nation’s Upscale programme. It highlights the strength and diversity of our digital economy with startups in fintech, retail and recruitment. We are doing all we can to ensure the tech sector gets the support it needs to thrive.” Digital Minister Matt Warman

With previous cohorts including companies such as Elvie, Bulb and Bloom & Wild, the prestige that the Upscale programme carries is high. Not only that, but the calibre of judges on our judging panel represent incredible expertise, including names such as Sarah Wood, author of Stepping Up and Cherry Freeman, CEO of LoveCrafts.

“It’s incredibly exciting to announce the 30 companies joining the Upscale 5.0 programme, especially with many of this year’s cohort using technology to address important societal issues around health, waste and education. Through workshops and peer networking, Tech Nation’s Upscale programme helps some of the UK’s most disruptive tech companies solve crucial scaling challenges, including international expansion, hiring and retaining talent at pace and developing leadership capabilities.” Liam Ward, Upscale Lead, Tech Nation 

“The Upscale cohort once again represents the most exciting up and coming tech companies in the UK. I’m delighted to support the programme this year, and support the valuable work done by Tech Nation in addressing the key challenges faced by fast-growth companies, whether it be going global, managing a board or retaining talent.” Sarah Wood, Tech Founder, Board Director and Author of Stepping Up

The rise of scaleups

Investment in scaling companies in the UK is on the increase, with UK scaleups outperforming their peers in 2019 – raising £, more than France (£3.8bn) and Germany (£5.4bn) combined. Our latest report with Dealroom highlighted that UK Series A and B round investments increased by 28% between 2018 and 2019.

The 30 companies joining Upscale further prove that maturing tech ecosystem in the UK. The Upscale 5.0 (2020) cohort companies raised on average 71% more than the Upscale 2.0 cohort – with the average Series A round increasing from £4.2m in 2017, to £7.2m in 2020. 

“The Upscale programme selects the very best of UK tech for a chance to participate in a unique series of learning and development modules on all aspects of scaling a company, alongside a peer group of other outstanding founders. The judging process was energising and I look forward to seeing how the chosen companies make the most of this opportunity.” Check Warner, Diversity VC and Ada Ventures

And it’s not just investment that’s increasing. Average revenues of the Upscale cohort have grown by 64% over 3 years, while the average number of employees has risen by 48% compared to previous cohorts.


The hottest tech trends

Upscale 5.0 represents a variety of emerging and high-growth tech sub-sectors, pointing to the most exciting and fastest-growing trends in tech. Healthtech is a prominent sub-sector, reflecting the increase in the number of scaling healthtech companies of over 473% over the last decade in the UK.

Aron Gelbard, CEO, Bloom & Wild commented: “I was thrilled to be part of the judging process for the 2020 Upscale cohort. Bloom & Wild was in the very first Upscale cohort back in 2016 and our team learned a huge amount and many of us are still in touch with our Upscale peers 4 years later. It’s a joy to be able to support the programme as a judge. The calibre of companies was outstanding, with a large number of very promising companies from outside London in particular, and we had some very difficult decisions to make as a group of judges.”

Legaltech and Tech for Good are also prominent trends, highlighting the increased public interest and awareness in climate change and sustainability, and the legal sector being one that is ready for disruption. Other sub-sectors that are represented include SaaS, E-commerce, cloud computing, fintech, AI, edtech, proptech and adtech.

“The Upscale programme represents some of the most exciting scaleups across the UK who are changing the face of UK technology. In this year’s cohort 30% of the companies are based outside of the capital – representing the increasing diversity of hubs of technology excellence. I look forward to keeping track of these companies as they scale nationally and internationally.” David Richards, Founder & CEO at WANdisco

Scaling faster, together

Upscale is based around honest conversations, meetups and workshops delivered by scale coaches and seasoned entrepreneurs who have been through it all. It helps fast-growth tech companies tackle fundamental growth challenges, from hiring and international expansion to maintaining company culture. 

Safe Hammad, Co-founder & CTO of Manchester-based Arctic Shores said: “We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far, but we don’t have all the answers! As we enter a period where we rapidly scale our business, we face challenges on several levels, such as increasing headcount and market share whilst trying to retain the values, diversity and passion that got us here. We’re excited to be part of the Upscale 5.0 programme which will support us in addressing these challenges in a holistic way, and not simply focus on a single aspect such as international growth or sales. We also look forward to sharing stories with others on the programme who are at a similar stage to us now!”

Tim Pullan, Founder & CEO of the Cambridge-based, Legaltech ThoughtRiver told us: “The whole ThoughtRiver team and I are hugely excited at the networking, exposure and learning opportunities on offer via the programme. Upscale was one of the only programmes which we felt could deliver true value in terms of rapid scaling, and improving our awareness of projects, initiatives and opportunities not currently on our radar. We are at the forefront of a huge wave of Legaltech innovation in the UK and globally, so Upscale gives us the chance to unlock further opportunities in a dynamic market.”

Jason McKeown, Co-founder & CEO, Neurovalens commented: “I am delighted that Neurovalens has been selected for the Tech Nation Upscale programme, especially as we are the only Northern Irish company to have been invited to take part. Neurovalens has grown rapidly so this programme comes at an extremely important time for us as we expand into key global markets while also developing our medical R&D pathways. We applied to take part in the Upscale programme to help us navigate the exciting next phase of our journey and we are really looking forward to sharing knowledge and learning from the other incredible leading UK scaleups.”

Meet the Upscale 5.0 cohort

Providing corporations with a true alternative to traditional global law firms, Lexoo delivers next generation legal services by combining tech, process and a network of over 1000 former BigLaw lawyers in 70 countries. Work is delivered to a higher standard, more quickly and at roughly 50% of the cost.

Neurovalens – Belfast – @neurovalens


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