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Upscale [Annual Review 2020]

Leadership Capacity

Impact for scaleups


Business leaders from 160 companies supported


New roles created


Increase in revenues

£3.3m - £7.5m



Peer connections made


Raised by companies

Key sectors

Creative, digital, film, games & media Technology & Communications

The well-established Upscale programme has been helping ambitious tech companies accelerate their growth for the past five years.

Each year 30 scaleups join a select cohort, chosen on the basis of having raised a Series A round of funding or because they are already generating more than £1m in revenues as well as growing at the rate of approximately 20% month-on-month.  Selected companies are based in all areas of the UK.

The curated programme is run over six months and offers 60 hours of support led by scale coaches. It includes two intensive off-site meetings, which allow participants to develop long-term connections, as well as five half-days focusing on significant scaling challenges such as recruiting talent, leadership and new markets.

Peer networking is an important element of Upscale and annually alumni come together to share their insights and tips.  It is a valuable opportunity for business leaders to hear from those who have made the scaleup journey and allow them to connect with other tech-based business leaders.

In five years of operation 180 scaling companies from a wide range of sectors and 823 business leaders have benefitted from the Upscale approach.  They have also received positioning as successful, fast-growth UK tech companies through Tech Nation’s dissemination activities alongside connections with government, large corporates and investors.  Since joining the programme Upscale companies have raised more than £1.5 billion in investment.

The most recent group – cohort 5.0 – have been particularly successful.  On average they have raised an extra £1m than the previous cohort (£7.2m compared to £6.2m), created additional revenues (£1.8 m compared to £1.2m) and employ more staff (an average of 48 compared to 32).

In 2020 Upscale responded to the pandemic by hosting more virtual sessions, providing 45 hours of programme content to senior leadership teams as well as facilitated intimate coaching circles to support founders’ wellbeing.  The programme team also delivered 20 investor office hour sessions to support fundraising and partnered with an international expansion conference provider to promote the cohort’s continuing export plans beyond Covid-19.

Evaluation of the programme by Frontier Economics for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport concluded that there was a substantial GVA impact for participants 1-2 years after completing the programme.  Measured by additional jobs created the analysts found there was a ratio of £8-£19 value for every pound spent. They also found that there was a 14-25% increase in supported businesses’ employment when compared with similar companies that had not participated in the programme.

“Upscale exceeded my expectations on all fronts. We have left the programme with a deeper understanding of how to approach the challenges of rapid growth and – most crucially – a community that we can rely on for considered advice as we continue to scale.” Johnnie Ball, Co-Founder and CDO, Fluidly

“Tech Nation brought together 30 of the most upcoming talented and hungry-for-growth tech companies in the UK. The cohort was and continues to be a hub of talent and like-minded founders who share and solve problems together. I’m delighted our c-level was part of the programme and I am looking forward to the next stage of growth.” Vinnie Morgan, Founder, BookingLive

“Being surrounded by like-minded people who are on the same fast-paced and steep trajectory has been invaluable. We’ve learned so much from the network we’ve formed, and I hope we’ve also been able to help others along the way too. Business is tough, and scaling a business is even tougher, so just having that support network wrapped around you gives you a real boost.” Rony Seamons, AMPLYFI, Wales

Upscale [Annual Review 2020] website