A CEO at one of Britain’s fastest-growing software companies has hit out at a government-led programme that is designed to match booming tech start-ups with publicly funded schemes and incentives.
The Future Fifty programme, designed to support fifty tech firms with revenues in excess of £10 million, was announced in April 2013 by then CEO Joanna Shields.
Tech City UK, funded with close to £2 million of taxpayer's money, said companies on the programme would receive advice from venture capital investors, specialists from leading law and accounting firms, as well as members of management teams that have recently listed their companies in the UK.
But Alastair Mitchell, CEO of enterprise software company Huddle, said Tech City UK’s Future Fifty scheme has been of “little to no use” to his business.
“It was a great idea and she [Tech City UK chair Joanna Shields] has done well off the back of it but I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily done everything that it could have done,” he told Techworld today.
Mitchell claimed that the programme has been flawed from the start because it included companies based outside the UK and Europe, including rival storage firm Box.
“They [Tech City UK] haven’t been nearly as aggressive or bold about it as they could have been,” he added. “They’ve done little forays but it could have been great.”
Meanwhile, incumbent Tech City UK CEO Gerard Grech is yet to make direct contact with Mitchell, despite having been in the role since February.
“You would have thought a fairly obvious thing would be to reach out to all 50 companies and ask how we’re doing and what can we do to help,” said Mitchell.
Earlier this year, a number of firms on the programme said they were yet to benefit by being part of the cohort.
After hearing the criticisms that were surfaced in the Techworld article in January, Tech City UK pledged to conduct a needs assessment by the end of the month in order to determine what type of support each member of the cohort requires.
Update: Philipp Stoeckl, Future Fifty programme lead at Tech City UK, said: "We are always keen to hear the feedback of companies on the Future Fifty programme. We regularly engage with the companies on the programme to continuously improve the support we offer. Getting comments from business leaders such as Alastair is hugely valuable in helping us further refine the programme.
"The concierge support we offer naturally varies from business to business due to their differing needs. Overall the feedback we have obtained from the majority of companies has been positive in terms of the support we offer around access to Government, PR, connectivity to capital markets expertise and more."