Unruly / News / Tech City UK Identifies Britain’s Future Digital Scale-ups

Tech City UK Identifies Britain’s Future Digital Scale-ups

The Upscale programme from Tech City UK will power 30 of the fastest growing UK tech companies on their scaling journey

28th January, 2016 – LONDON: Tech City UK today announces the 30 digital companies selected to join the first intake of its new Upscale programme. Following a high level of exceptional applications and a competitive judging process, the companies selected represent the emerging digital businesses with the most potential for rapid scale and international growth.

Upscale in numbers:

  • 90% of companies incorporated in the last six years
  • Average fund raised thus far: $8M
  • Average revenue: $1.8M
  • Average number of employees: 30 
  • Average growth of sales revenue was 53% month-on-month – over the last three months, where indicated as primary business metric.

The first intake of businesses reflects the growing diversity of the UK’s digital specialisms. Upscale companies also demonstrate the range of sectors being disrupted by data-led innovation, where growth businesses are making sophisticated use of data analytics to help with everything from determining credit risk to choosing what to wear.

  • Improbable uses data to allow us to build simulated worlds which lets us test the impact of introducing autonomous cars, or changing patterns of energy consumption
  • Touch Surgery allows surgeons to practice operations in virtual reality using data to guide them step-by-step through each procedure
  • Lingvist is using mathematical and statistical models to build next generation software to make language learning almost 10 times faster
  • Growth Intel uses data and machine-learning to provide clients with an accurate market overview

The full list of Upscale companies is:

  • E-commerce: Depop, Metail, Pact Coffee, Snap Fashion, Thread, Bloom & Wild
  • Fintech: Seedrs, Elliptic, Growth Street, Property Partner, Sybenetix, Receipt Bank
  • Data & Analytics: Growth Intel, Import.io, Improbable, Ometria, EDITED
  • Edtech: Administrate, Kano, Lingvist, Show My Homework
  • Hardware & IoT: Cocoon, M Squared Lasers, SAM Labs
  • Healthtech and biology: Touch Surgery, Zesty, Synthace
  • Other:  Global App Testing, Wakelet, Appear Here

As part of the programme, the 30 Upscale companies will work with Scale Coaches that have a proven track record of growing successful tech companies across the world. Scale Coaches – including Skype founder Niklas Zennström, Techstars co-founder Brad Feld, and Unruly co-founder Sarah Wood – will share their experience to help Upscale entrepreneurs address the specific challenges encountered by fast-growth businesses.

Programme partners Silicon Valley Bank and law firm Cooley LLP will support Upscale entrepreneurs by offering bespoke financial and legal advice on scaling, including those looking to expand into new markets like China or the US.

Upscale builds on Tech City UK’s commitment to support UK digital businesses at every stage of their lifecycle and growth trajectory, from the Digital Business Academy for very early stage entrepreneurs, to Future Fifty for much later stage businesses.

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, said: “Upscale from Tech City UK is a grassroots initiative to coach the next generation of UK-based entrepreneurs. Upscale has been built from the ground up, using direct feedback from company founders, investors and ecosystem partners. I’d like to welcome everyone aboard and thank all of our advisors and friends who helped this take off.”

Eileen Burbidge, Chair of Tech City UK and Upscale Advisor, said: “I’m thrilled that Tech City UK is launching Upscale, which will provide valuable support and resource to some of our fastest growing and most promising digital businesses in Britain.”

Suranga Chandratillake, Partner at Balderton Capital and Upscale Advisor, said: “Great entrepreneurial ecosystems are all about putting people together and letting them learn from each other through multiple, intense, deep interactions. Upscale is facilitating precisely this with some of the most interesting young companies in Britain today – something that will be hugely valuable to the companies themselves, the digital ecosystem in the country and the wider economy.”

Scale Coach Sarah Wood, co-founder and co-CEO of Unruly, said: “Our tech start-up ecosystem is stronger than ever; scaling UK start-ups further and faster is now the most pressing challenge for UK PLC if we want to harness the business opportunities brought about by the digital revolution. Only by working together and sharing our expertise can we ensure that as many UK companies as possible go from start-up to scale-up and contribute to the future growth of the UK’s digital economy.”

Alex Klein, co-founder of Kano, said: “Finding opportunities to connect with other startups is very valuable. It’s incredibly helpful for our team to meet their peers in other companies, as part of the Upscale programme, so that everyone can learn from each other.”

Lloyd Price, co-founder of Zesty, said: “We think this Upscale is an exciting programme to help us entrepreneurs share really difficult truths and lessons in order to scale up. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

Upscale companies

  • Administrate: provides training management and learning management software to help organisations define, track, and deliver high quality education
  • Appear Here: is the leading marketplace for short-term space. Find, book and list retail space, all online
  • Bloom & Wild: exists to make sending and receiving flowers the joy that it should be, every time
  • Cocoon: creates an all-in-one home security product that protects the most important place your life
  • Depop: is a mobile-first marketplace for consumer goods
  • EDITED: is the industry standard for how fashion retailers get their pricing and product right
  • Elliptic: identifies illicit activity on the Bitcoin blockchain, and our clients include financial institutions and law enforcement agencies
  • Global App Testing: makes the feedback loop between development and test instant, helping you release high quality products in the fastest time
  • Growth Street: an alternative finance platform for SMEs, that offers borrowers great finance terms on business overdrafts and delivers a superior, risk-adjusted return for lenders
  • GrowthIntel: accelerates B2B trade using NLP, data science and machine learning – turning primary source unstructured data into predictive go-to-market intelligence
  • Import.io: is a web data platform that puts the power of the machine-readable web in your hands. Individuals and businesses can turn messy websites into structured tables of data
  • Improbable: Improbable is developing SpatialOS; a distributed operating system that makes building simulated worlds possible
  • Kano: wants to inspire a new creative generation that has the toolkit to make, learn and play with technology
  • Lingvist: is building the next generation language learning software. The goal is to make language learning 10x faster by using mathematical and statistical methods
  • M Squared Lasers Ltd: research, design and manufacture world-class lasers and advanced photonic systems for use in a myriad of academic and commercial applications
  • Metail: creates technology that enables consumers to try on clothing online
  • Ometria: is a customer insight and marketing automation platform that helps retailers truly understand their customers, and personalise the way they communicate with each one
  • Pact Coffee: delivers incredible freshly roasted coffee by post – shipping the coffee within 7 days of roasting and grinding it at the last moment, to make it easy for people to drink fresher coffee everyday
  • Property Partner: allows anyone to buy and sell shares in residential property at the click of a button
  • Receipt Bank: is the leading provider of automation to accountants and bookkeepers around the world
  • SAM Labs: creates an amazing Internet of Things education kit
  • Seedrs: is the leading equity crowdfunding platform in Europe
  • Show My Homework: is a platform that is re-inventing the century-old problem of homework for education systems around the world
  • Snap Fashion: leads consumers to exactly what they want to buy online through visual search
  • Sybenetix: working with hedge funds, banks and asset managers to systematically improve investment performance and conduct management
  • Synthace: engineers biology for applications across health, food, energy and manufacturing
  • Thread: helps men dress well using a combination of human stylists and machine learning algorithms
  • Touch Surgery: empowers and connects a global community of surgeons to make better decisions. The app takes the operating room and puts it into your pocket though virtual reality
  • Wakelet: helps people to organise content from across the web into stunning, shareable collections
  • Zesty: is the UK’s leading Digital Health Platform that allows patients to book and manage healthcare appointments, on any device, in under 60 seconds

Scale Coaches

  • Niklas Zennström – Skype, Atomico
  • Brad Feld – Techstars, Foundry Group
  • Alex Chesterman – Zoopla
  • Saul Klein – LoveFilm, Seedcamp
  • Sarah Wood – Unruly
  • Greg Marsh – One Fine Stay
  • Simon Calver – LoveFilm, Moo
  • Jerry Colonna – Reboot.io
  • Alexandra Depledge – Hassle.com
  • Tracy Doree – Llustre, Spring Ventures
  • Doug Monro – Adzuna
  • Anthony Fletcher – Graze


About Tech City UK

 Tech City UK is a publicly, funded non-profit team with a private sector mentality. Our focus is on creating the optimum conditions for digital technology businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive across the UK. Through our programmes and policy work, we accelerate the growth of digital businesses in London and across cities at all stages of their development. We advocate and aim to make life better for digital entrepreneurs.

 Founded in 2010, with a mission to support the emerging Silicon Roundabout tech cluster in East London. Anchored in Shoreditch, Tech City has grown into an organisation that accelerates the growth of digital businesses at all stages of their development, in London and cities across the UK. Examples of programmes include Future FiftyUpscaleDigital Business AcademyTech NationHQ-UK and Tech North.


About Upscale

Upscale is a new pilot programme designed to provide scale-up tech businesses with expertise from a set of world-class Scale Coaches – who have been influential in the growth of some of the world’s most successful digital companies.