Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, has revealed the 30 companies joining its prestigious Upscale programme for the UK’s most exciting and fastest growing scaleup tech companies, with previous Digital DNA Award winners, Neurovalens joining the programme as the only Northern Irish company.

Now in its fifth year, the Upscale 5.0 cohort reflects the maturity of the tech landscape in the UK with considerable growth in key company statistics. Most of the companies on the programme have already raised a Series A round, and the average raise has increased from £4.2m in 2017, to £7.2m in 2020. Average revenues have also increased by 64% from £1.1m to £1.8m over three years, while the average number of employees when joining the cohort has grown by 48% from 31 to 46. 

Some of the biggest success stories of UK tech, such as Monzo, Bulb, Improbable and Bloom & Wild, have been through the programme, and the 30 new companies represent the next generation of digital household names. 

Commenting on the announcement of this new cohort, Digital Minister Matt Warman said “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.”

This cohort reflects just a small part of the UK tech scaleup ecosystem – in total, there are almost 5,000 UK tech scaleups which add £17.2bn to the UK economy and employs almost 200,000 people. UK scaleups outperformed their peers in 2019, with companies raising £10.1bn, more than France (£3.8bn) and Germany (£5.4bn) combined, and are spread right across the UK.  

Jason McKeown, Co-founder & CEO of Neurovalens and winner of Startup of the Year at the Digital DNA Awards 2018 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.” 

Key Stats about upscale cohort 5.0

  • 30% of applications from outside of London, including: Manchester, Cardiff, Cambridge, Leeds, Brighton, Belfast and Newcastle
  • 63% first time founders
  • £217m collectively raised across the cohort
  • Average funds raised: £7.2m (increase from £6.2m last year)
  • Average revenues: £1.8m (increase from £1.5m last year)
  • Average employees: 46 (increase from 36 last year)
  • Average age of company: 4.5 years
  • Applications have reached an all time high with 131 applications, up from 115 the year before 

Key Sector Breakdown

  • 5 Healthtech (17%)
  • 5 SaaS (17%)
  • 5 eCommerce and Marketplace (17%)
  • 4 Enterprise and Cloud Computing (13%)
  • 2 Fintech, 2 Lawtech, 2 AI, 2 Edtech, 1 Proptech, 1 Tech for Good, 1 Adtech

The Upscale programme is designed to support the UK’s leading scaleups by tackling the leadership challenge in UK tech. A recent report by Zenger/Folkman found that management and leadership skills are lacking in just over half of all leadership teams, and organisations that invest in developing leaders are 2.4 times more likely to hit their performance targets and almost double their profits. 

Upscale sessions include addressing how to scale yourself as a leader, and how to scale internationally. The programme aims to create a peer-to-peer network of companies on their scaleup journey, and includes sessions led by tech entrepreneurs from some of the UK’s most successful companies, including Nilan Peiris, the VP of Growth at Transferwise and Will McInnes the CMO at Brandwatch. Companies are selected through a judging process of tech entrepreneurs and established VCs, including Anthony Fletcher, CEO of Graze and Cherry Freeman, CEO, Lovecrafts as well as entrepreneurs who have gone through the programme themselves, such as Aron Gelbard, CEO of London-based Bloom & Wild. 

Mike Jackson, Entrepreneur Success Director, Tech Nation commented: “As we enter our fifth year, the Upscale programme has built an incredible network of alumni, including UK unicorns Monzo and Improbable. The network has a wealth of experience to share with the cohort, reflected in our judging panel and programme sessions. I’m excited to welcome this year’s companies onto the programme which helps to tackle key challenges founders face, wherever they are based in the UK.”

30% of companies joining the programme are from outside of London, and are based in: Manchester, Cardiff, Cambridge, Leeds, Brighton, Belfast and Newcastle. Companies hail from all different tech sub-sectors – showing the depth and breadth of technology in the UK today. 17% of companies on the programme this year are in the healthtech sector, 17% are in SaaS and 17% are in E-commerce. Cloud computing, fintech, legaltech, AI, edtech, proptech, tech for good and adtech are also represented on the programme. While E-commerce and SaaS are evidently still pivotal to UK tech, the makeup of the programme also represents the rise of companies applying technology to societal issues, including healthtech, which has seen an increase in scaling companies of over 473% over the last decade in the UK.

How to Enter

Our online system makes it easy to submit your entry or nominate worthy winners

Entry Deadline


Entry deadline is 5.00pm on 10 February 2020

Sign up

Register your details on our online entry system.

Select Category

Select your category from the drop down and answer the questions as prompted. You can save a draft at any time to complete at a future date.


When you have completed all questions, simply submit for our judges to review.

About Neurovalens

Neurovalens – Belfast – @neurovalens

Aiming to transform the world of neurology, Neurovalens wants to treat global neurological health issues by influencing the brain and nervous system using safe and non-invasive technology. This technology aims to replace drugs as the first-line treatments for obesity, diabetes, insomnia and anxiety.

Upscale 5.0 judging panel includes:

  • Andrew Parker, SVB
  • Anthony Fletcher, Graze
  • Aron Gelbard, Bloom & Wild
  • Charlotte Clarke, NVM
  • Check Warner, Diversity VC
  • Cherry Freeman, Lovecrafts
  • Divinia Knowles, Scale Coach
  • Dominic Jacquesson, Index Ventures
  • Giovanni Nani, Frog Capital
  • Jon Bradford, Dynamo VC
  • Julia Hawkins, LocalGlobe
  • Katy Turner, Multiple
  • Marc Shirman, Beringea
  • Megumi Ikeda, Hearst Ventures
  • Reem Wyndham, ADV
  • Sarah Wood, Unruly, Tech Nation NED
  • Suranga Chandratillake OBE, Balderton Capital

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