South West businesses among top 30 tech companies

Three Bristol and Bath tech startups are among 30 that have been selected for the prestigious Upscale programme, now in its fourth year.

BookingLive, an online booking system for businesses, and Immersive Labs, which helps businesses train people in cybersecurity skills, made the grade for the sought-after programme. Bath’s MoveGB will also be joining the Bristol companies. The fast-growing startups were selected for the Tech Nation programme from over 100 applications and will be coached over the next six months by some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and company founders.

Immersive Labs was founded in 2017 by former GCHQ researcher James Hadley. It already employs 55 people and has just announced that it has raised $8m in Series A funding, led by investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Founded in 2007 in Teeside, BookingLive relocated to Bristol because it was a better place to grow the business which provides booking systems for companies from Greene King pubs to Sky. Bath’s MoveGB is a flexible fitness membership scheme that gives consumers one membership to thousands of activities and classes, so they need never get bored. It already has 250,000 members and 5,000 activity providers.

The six-month Upscale programme, which got underway last night by bringing all the companies together 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 & CEO of Aire, Angie Ma, Co-founder & COO of ASI Data Science and Cherry Freeman, Founder of LoveCrafts, on the challenges of scaling and leadership.

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.”

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.”

James Hadley, co-founder and CEO, Immersive Labs, said: “After launching in early 2017, Immersive Labs has seen phenomenal growth. We’ve grown from four people to almost 70 in just two years, taken Series A funding, and have opened four offices in Europe and the US. We’ve seen the damage that gaps in training for security professionals can do and our aim is to change that, putting the days of old-school, infrequent training behind us. We are incredibly proud to be working with some of the biggest banks, law firms and healthcare providers in the country, and joining Tech Nation’s Upscale programme will help us push this vision further to help more organisations upskill their security teams. I have no doubt that we’ll take a huge amount away from the programme and learn a lot from the experiences of hugely successful entrepreneurs.”

Vinnie Morgan, Founder and CEO of BookingLive, said: “BookingLive is the UK’s No.1 Online Booking and Reservation platform, and we help clients from Local Government and NHS trusts to Microsoft and Greene King, the pub operator, with industry leading solutions. We are a disruptive and innovative tech business with a big vision and we are very proud to be part of Upscale, the Tech Nation program that has helped other companies within the UK to become what they are today.”

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