These top entrepreneurs will mentor the UK's most ambitious startups

 
Lynsey Barber
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The Future Fifty and Upscale programmed will support startups

Lady Martha Lane Fox and the man behind the hit game Candy Crush, Riccardo Zacconi, are among the top entrepreneurs who will mentor another new group of startups springing up in the UK.

Tech City UK's Upscale programme, designed to support up-and-coming startups wanting to scale their business, has added a string of top mentors who will help coach them on the six month programme, now in its second year.

Brent Hoberman, founder of Lastminute.com with Lane Fox and now chief executive of Founders Factory, along with Mind Candy founder Michael Acton Smith will also mentor the fast growth early stage companies on the Upscale scheme, which opens for applications today.

Read more: Meet the hottest 50 UK tech startups which are now scaling up

Just Eat chief executive David Buttress and Lesley Eccles of FanDuel will also mentor the startups after being part of the tech group's Future Fifty programme.

It comes as new figures reveal the select group of the UK's top tech startups from the Future Fifty have landed $816m (£656m) in funding from venture capitalists so far this year.

The startups have raised a combined $2.5bn since the scheme started in 2013 while five of them have gone on to IPO, raising more than $1bn between them.

And more global attention has turned to these tech stars, with six mergers and acquisitions over the past year of 11 in total over the last three years. They include Microsoft's $250m purchase of artificial intelligence-powered keyboard app Swiftkey, News Corp's acquisition of adtech firm Unruly for £114m and a £117m deal for hotel group Accor to snap up "upmarket Airbnb" Onefinestay.

The tech group also estimates that the Future Fifty, which also opens for applications from a fresh batch of firms, have created 23,000 jobs.

Read more: Red tape could stop London startups' Brexit exodus

“The UK digital industry is growing fast, expanding 32 per cent faster than the rest of the economy. At Tech City UK we want to accelerate this growth even further," said the group's chief executive Gerard Grech.

"Future Fifty and Upscale 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."

Digital minister Matt Hancock also backed the scheme. He said: "The most recent Tech Nation report shows digital businesses contributed £161bn to the economy and employed more than 1.56m people last year."

He continued: "We are working with the industry to make sure this incredible success continues and the next generation of world-leading innovative digital companies are based in the UK. This includes backing these vital Tech City UK schemes to give scale-up firms access to expert support and networks.”

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