Tech City UK, a quango established by prime minister David Cameron in 2010 in a bid to champion and support UK tech firms, is now accepting applications from the next group of high-growth tech companies that want to appear on the Future Fifty programme.

The Future Fifty programme was launched last October by chair Joanna Shields and chancellor George Osborne in a bid to catalyse growth, create jobs and deliver economic impact to the UK. One of its aims is to help the UK create firms that are a similar size to US heavyweights like Google and Facebook. 

Tech City UK claims that the current cohort of 50 growth-stage tech companies, which includes the likes of Shazam, Spotify and Mind Candy, have generated £2.1 billion in revenue and 15,000 jobs for digital sector. 

In the last 10 months, four of the companies have completed initial public offerings (IPOs) on the London stock markets with a total value of £4 billion. Further, thirteen of the companies have attracted a combined £260 million in investment.

Criticisms

However, a number of companies in the existing cohort have criticised the scheme at one stage or another for failing to deliver anything of any real value. For example, Huddle’s Alastair Mitchell told Techworld in August that the Future Fifty scheme had been of “little to no use” to his company, while others criticised Tech City UK for announcing the scheme before knowing what it was really about and for being unresponsive to their emails.

Several of the existing cohort will leave the Future Fifty scheme in December to make room for the new firms. 

Tech City UK, which is funded with close to £2 million of taxpayer's money a year, said the companies 'graduating' in December have “matured to reach key revenue and funding milestones including stock market listings."

The agency, unknown to half of MPs, did not specify how many of the existing cohort will leave the scheme, or who they are. 

Those companies not graduating at this stage will remain on the programme for a maximum of 24 months before becoming alumni.

“Growth stage companies are a key driver of job and revenue growth for Britain’s digital sector," said Tech City UK CEO Gerard Grech. "Future Fifty is an integral part of our wider goal to fast track the growth of digital businesses across the UK.

“We want to enable these growth stage companies to reach their potential by smoothing their path to success as quickly as possible. We look forward to welcoming new companies on to the Future Fifty programme to continue the UK’s digital success story.”

Chris Morton, CEO and co-founder of online fashion platform Lyst, said: "The Future Fifty programme has been a valuable resource from helping with practical matters - specifically with visas and helping us secure our new Shoreditch office - through to connecting us with insights on marketing, international growth and intellectual property. Having such assistance to hand allows us to focus on continuing to grow our business globally."

In order to be considered for a place in the Future Fifty, companies must have net revenues of between £3 million and £30 million over the last 12 months. The first group needed to show revenues of over £10 million over the same time frame. They must also be headquartered in the UK or have a "significant management presence in the UK". 

The fact that Tech City UK allowed non-UK companies into the first cohort was criticised by some. 

Prospective companies can apply for a place on the programme by completing an application form. The deadline for applications is 27 November.

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