Applications for tech scale-up programmes

The search is on to find the top 50 growth-stage tech firms in the UK that could qualify to join the Future Fifty and Upscale UK programmes, which help to support the UK technology sector.

Future Fifty supports the UK’s top 50 growth-stage tech firms through a combination of development workshops, access to government contacts and services, promotional opportunities and collaboration.

In a statement published last week, the organisation said that businesses wishing to qualify for the programme must be UK-based, have an annual revenue exceeding £5m and be growing at 30 per cent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the six-month Upscale UK programme is focused on early-stage start-ups helping 30 promising businesses to scale up by providing expert mentoring, networking and promotional opportunities.

Potential applicants for this programme must be headquartered in the UK, have achieved 30 per cent month-on-month growth for the last six months and have completed a Series A or equivalent. Bootstrapped firms must have £500,000 in revenues.

As a spokesman for Tech City pointed out, Future Fifty and Upscale UK 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.

He added that Tech City is delighted that its Future Fifty companies are now becoming scale coaches as well as role models for aspiring entrepreneurs, playing their part to create a sustainable ecosystem.

The deadline to apply for both the Future Fifty and the Upscale UK’s programmes is a minute before midnight on 7 December 2016.

Start-ups urge Government to protect access to UK talent

A group of nearly 50 tech start-up representatives have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May urging her to protect access to tech talent once Brexit negotiations begin.

The letter, which was signed by founders and executives of Tech City Future 50 and alumni of the group, such as Deliveroo, says that the UK’s exit from the European Union could hamper their ability to hire the best talent or could deter these people from wanting to come and join, or set up, tech businesses in the UK.

As the signatories point out, the UK has become a ‘number one spot’ in Europe for tech start-ups, with 40 per cent of all European tech unicorns, which are firms valued at £1bn or more, being based here. Meanwhile, digital industries across the board are expanding at an extraordinary pace, creating jobs and contribution some £161bn in turnover to the economy.

Moreover, tech innovation has brought in new energy providers, more efficient banking and investment firms, cheaper travel and accessible education, to name just a few of the benefits the industry brings to the UK.

The letter goes on to say that if tech communities are no longer able to recruit from all 27 member states, many firms will see a slowdown in their business, meaning that the Government’s measures in recent years to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in the UK would be wasted.

It concludes by saying that, as tech company founders, the signatories want to work with the Government to find solutions to the digital industries’ need for international talent, which will allow British tech to continue to compete on the world stage.

One million more small businesses

According to a new report from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the number of private sector businesses in the UK has reached a record high of 5.5 million, a 23 per cent increase on the number in 2010.

The report says that a million more small businesses, 4,000 new medium-sized organisations and 900 new large firms have been created in the past six years, meaning that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) now account for at least 99 per cent of new businesses in the UK.

In addition, the number of firms employing UK workers has continued to rise for the third year running, increasing by 1 per cent. This year there were 1.3 million businesses employing staff and 4.2 million non-employers, meaning that the owner was the sole employee of 76 per cent of businesses.

Because of the rise in self-employment, which is also at a record high, the Government has launched a review to see if employment rules need changing, as well as a consultation on the new role of Small Business Commissioner, to look at how this will operate and handle calls and complaints.

Commenting on the report, a spokesman for the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said it is wonderful that the UK remains such a great place to start a business, and that more firms are making the leap from start-ups to larger concerns.

However, he added that the challenge now, at a time of transition and change, is to ensure that the UK provides the best possible environment in which businesses can invest, recruit and grow.