Oxford tech startups secure prestigious coaching to upscale their companies

Open Cosmos and Oxehealth

Two Oxford tech startups are among 30 companies that have been selected for the prestigious Upscale programme.

Oxehealth, a digital care assistant that allows clinicians and carers to monitor patients remotely, and Open Cosmos, a space exploration company, have been chosen for the Tech Nation programme from more than 100 applications and will be coached over the next six months by some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and company founders.

Both startups have close links to the city of Oxford and the university. Oxehealth, which was founded by the Head of Engineering at Oxford University, Professor Lionel Tarassenko and is part-owned by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Open Cosmos chose Harwell business park as its base three years ago, because it wanted to benefit from the talent and knowledge-based connected to the city and its university. Between them, Oxehealth and Open Cosmos employ 41 people and have raised

The six-month Upscale programme got, which underway by bringing all the companies together for an event at the Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds, is designed to help fast-growth tech companies to successfully navigate the challenges of growing to the next stage.

The challenges that most concern these growing companies include hiring and retaining talent, maintaining culture while scaling and expanding into new markets. During the launch, companies heard from Aneesh Varma, Founder and Chief Executive of Aire, Angie Ma, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of ASI Data Science and Cherry Freeman, Founder of LoveCrafts, on the challenges of scaling and leadership.

Read more: Harwell EnergyTec cluster makes impressive progress

Hugh Lloyd-Jukes, Chief Executive of Oxehealth, said: “Oxehealth is now contracted to over 16% of English Mental Health Trusts as well as customers in police, prison and care home sectors. We also have a budding business in Sweden.

“As we grow our company, we are eager to take the lessons of experience from the world’s best entrepreneurs so we can get our Digital Care Assistant solution just right for staff, patients and the NHS. I’m sure Upscale will be an invaluable source of learning for us all.”

The 30 companies that have been selected represent some of the finest early stage talent from across the UK and it is expected that many will successfully grow into the next generation of digital household names. Companies joining the programme have on average 40 employees and revenues of more than £1.5m a year. Most of the companies on Upscale 4.0 have already raised a Series A round and the cohort has collectively raised £188m.

Rafael Jorda Siquier, Co-founder and CEO, Open Cosmos, said: “The first three years of Open Cosmos have been very exciting. We put satellites into orbit, we doubled our size every six months and we closed a series A funding round from top venture capitalists. Now we are ready to grow and scale up. We are very proud to be part of Upscale, the Tech Nation program that has helped the biggest unicorns in the UK to become what they are.”

The Upscale companies are drawn from all sectors, with a fifth of companies in the fintech sector and another fifth that are e-commerce and marketplace. Half of the companies are business to business startups, while a fifth are business to consumer companies and 30% a hybrid of business to business and business to consumer.

Sinead Daly, Mid-stage Programme Lead at Tech Nation, said: “I’m delighted to welcome this year’s companies onto the Upscale programme. As we enter our fourth year, Upscale has built an incredible network of over 100 alumni, who have a wealth of experience to share with the cohort. Our off-site launch event will bring our founders together for the first time and enable us to embed those tight-knit connections upfront, think about what scaling really means and explore how leaders can thrive while managing such rapid growth.”

Margot James, Minister for Creative and Digital industries, said: “The UK is Europe’s undisputed tech hub and much of our success is down to the ambition of fast-growth companies like these. I congratulate all the companies joining Upscale today and the significant potential and innovation they have shown. We are determined to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business, and through our Digital and Industrial Strategies we want to see the power of technology change people’s lives for the better.”

Upscale is a programme with a strong focus on learning from peers. It includes workshops, mentoring sessions and networking opportunities. Participants will benefit from frank mentoring from scale coaches who will conduct workshops and events over the next six months, helping the cohort to tackle challenges involved in taking their businesses to the next stage.

Scale coaches on past programmes have included Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Lastminute.com; successful investor and Lovefilm founder Saul Klein; One Fine Stay co-founder Greg Marsh and Lesley Eccles, founder of FanDuel.com. Some of the insights that the team will learn can also be read in Upscale: the book, which features frank advice from some of the UK’s leading technology entrepreneurs and investors.

Upscale is made possible with the help and support of our programme partners, who share their expertise and experience, and help advise companies on a range of issues.