Tech City UK Blog

New beginnings are always exciting, so it is with great anticipation that we open applications for Future Fifty and Upscale, our two leading programmes for tech companies.

Future Fifty is our programme to help 50 of the country’s late-stage pioneering tech companies. If you think that your business has what it takes to become the next Deliveroo, Transferwise or Skyscanner, this is for you.

But if you’re at an earlier stage on the startup journey, there is another programme Upscale – which will help 30 promising business ideas begin to scale. For the Upscale programme, we have recruited some of the UK’s best known digital entrepreneurs to work as Scale Coaches:

  • New mentors include Candy Crush creator Riccardo Zacconi, founder and CEO of games developer Founders of Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman, now CEO of FoundersFactory and Forum, Lesley Eccles, co-founder of and, Jess Butcher, co-founder and director of Blippar.
  • Several Future Fifty alumni have also joined as Scale Coaches of the programme including Michael Acton Smith, founder of Mind Candy David Buttress, CEO of JustEat and Anne-Marie Huby, Co-Founder of JustGiving.
  • Other coaches include: Simon Calver, ex-CEO of LoveFilm & Saul Klein, ex-general partner at Index Ventures and now at LocalGlobe, Wendy Tan White, ex-CEO and co-founder of MoonFruit and now General Partner at Entrepreneur First, and Greg Marsh, founder of OneFineStay
  • Previous coaches include Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype, Brad Feld, co-founder of TechStars, and Future Fifty alumni Sarah Wood, co-founder & CEO of Unruly.


The calibre of our coaches on Upscale is testimony to the success of Future Fifty, which has been helping to turn late-stage tech companies into international players since 2014. The facts speak for themselves.

From 77 Future Fifty companies, we have seen:

  • Five IPOs on the London Stock Exchange, raising over £1bn
  • 11 mergers and acquisitions. 6 of which in the last year, including SwiftKey (Microsoft), One Fine Stay (Accor Group) & Unruly (News Corp)
  • Future Fifty companies have now raised over $2.5 billion in venture capital funding, including more than $816 million this year, creating 23,000 jobs in total.


Companies will also be supported by the fantastic programme partners we have on board this year: US law firm and expansion partners, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; the UK’s number one out-of-home advertising company, JCDecaux; commercial property experts, JLL; and finally financial services giant, Barclays.


Future Fifty companies are still attracting investment:

  • LoopUp was the first post-Brexit tech IPO and the first Future Fifty company to be listed on AIM
  • Deliveroo raised a $275M Series E round from international investors, and Notonthehighstreet raised $27M
  • Earlier this year Swiftkey was acquired by Microsoft for $250M, One Fine Stay was acquired by Accor Group, Housetrip was acquired by Trip Advisor, and FarFetch raised $110M Series F round. In late 2015, Unruly was acquired by News Corp.

From our Upscale Programme 1.0, we have high hopes also of the companies that have been taking part. Firms like Kano, which sells an educational computer kit, Property Partner, a property crowdfunding firm, Seedrs, an online crowdfunding business, and Sybenetix, a behavioural analysis platform for banks and hedge funds managers have huge potential.

Scale-ups and entrepreneurs on Future Fifty and Upscale will:

  • benefit from networking with like-minded tech entrepreneurs
  • receive coaching and advice from people who have proven track records of bringing successful businesses to scale
  • experience many opportunities to promote their business through international and national networks
  • get access to key contacts in the Government’s business services, including help with visa applications

On Upscale there is a chance to strengthen the management skills of your whole team. You will take part in as many as 30 sessions and socials, that are designed around your specific needs. You will be thinking about how to scale your company culture, retain your star players and recruit high quality people at scale. The challenges you face including maintaining team morale, managing the board, raising future funds and taking the company global.

Upscale companies will also be supported by having direct access to our two incredible programme partners: international innovation law firm, Cooley; and global cloud-computing provider Amazon Web Services, which last year welcomed Upscale companies into its London headquarters for a day!


Together with other companies in the same position, you will learn from our 18 highly experienced coaches just how to grow your business. It’s knowledge that would take years to accumulate through trial and error.

Here’s what Alex Klein, chief executive and founder of Kano, thought of the programme. “Upscale has been a great programme allowing the team and I to connect with other founders and peers going through the same scaling journey, while being mentored by experts who have been through it all before. One standout session for me was hearing from Stephen Rapoport and his frank story of the growth and challenges at Pact Coffee. I’d urge any founder to consider Upscale for their company.”

Sarah Wood, co-founder of Unruly, was a graduate of the Future Fifty programme before going on to sell Unruly to media giant News Corp for £58 million. She says: “As well as putting you on the map as a high-growth tech company, being part of the Future Fifty brings the opportunity to learn from an incredible cohort of talented peers and entrepreneurs who have experienced first hand the challenges of scaling up. Plus there are practical benefits such as fast-track access to visa support, which is enormously helpful when you’re entering new markets. For any UK company looking to raise their profile, power up their network and expedite business growth, Future Fifty is a must.”

If your business is ready to join either of these programmes, there’s never been a better time to get started.


Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, says: “The UK digital industry is growing fast, expanding 32 per cent faster than the rest of the economy. At Tech City UK we want to accelerate this growth even further. Future Fifty and Upscale are designed to support the different needs of high growth businesses and scale-ups, surrounding each team with their peers and industry experts who really understand the challenges they face as they expand. We are really delighted that our Future Fifty companies are now becoming scale coaches as well as role models for aspiring entrepreneurs, playing their part to create a sustainable ecosystem.”


Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock says: “The most recent Tech Nation report shows digital businesses contributed £161 billion to the economy and employed more than 1.56 million people last year. We are working with the industry to make sure this incredible success continues and the next generation of world-leading innovative digital companies are based in the UK. This includes backing these vital Tech City UK schemes to give scale-up firms access to expert support and networks.”


So how do you get on to these two prestigious and free programmes? Applications open on 3 November and will close on 7 December.


To qualify for Future Fifty, digital businesses must:


  • Be headquartered in the UK
  • Have an annual revenue of over £5 million
  • Be growing 30 per cent year-on-year.



To apply for Upscale, tech companies must:


  • Be headquartered in the UK
  • Demonstrate a high level of month-on-month growth in their key business metrics (>30% month on month for the last 6 months)
  • Have completed a Series A or equivalent in funding
  • Bootstrapped businesses can also apply if they have £500K revenues


Successful applicants will be notified in January and winners will be announced later in the month. Tech City UK takes no equity stake in the companies selected to join its programmes.

Here’s more from successful participants of both programmes:



“I would give this programme a 10/10 because it’s been a privilege to be involved and I’ve loved how it’s felt like a real trusted community and family – very different to a lot of the more ‘corporate’ feeling initiatives out there. You personally care about this programme and it shines through.” Aron Gelbard, CEO, Bloom & Wild


“Everyone in the team has gotten value out of the programme which means that you have provided relevant and valuable content for a broad range of skill sets in a management team and at a level that was both relevant and ac

cessible for our stage of growth. The quality of the coaches and their enthusiasm, openness and honesty in sharing their experiences and advice was top notch.” Wendy Jephson, co-founder Sybenetix


Future Fifty:

“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


”Really appreciate the support from Tech City and Future Fifty over the last few years – made a big difference.” Ben Medlock, Co-Founder of SwiftKey


For more information go to: and


Press Contact: Cathy White [email protected] +44 (0)7791 232834