Tech Nation – the government-established agency supporting the development of the technology economy – has launched its second annual mentorship programme aimed at fintech companies.

Following the success of 2018’s cohort of seed or Series A funded financial tech start-ups – including Sustainably from Edinburgh – a new round of applications has opened up for this year’s programme, which runs from September to March.

If successful, companies hoping to rapidly scale up can expect a six-month programme of mentorship from seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, helping to take them to the next stage of development. The 2019 Fintech Growth Programme is delivered as part of HM Treasury’s Fintech Sector Strategy.

Loral Quinn, Co-founder & CEO, Sustainably, Edinburgh, said: “Tech Nation’s fintech programme was invaluable to Sustainably. We’re now focused on building our partner marketing programme to scale our brand, we’re hiring a designer into the team, and are in discussions with banks on how we can use their networks to scale.”

Supported by fintech market leaders including Al Lukies and David Duffy of the Fintech Alliance – running from September 2019 to March 2020 – the bespoke leadership development programme is specifically designed to connect and create opportunities for the founders of the UK’s most promising fintech scaleups. 

The programme’s six-month schedule puts leading fintech CEOs through nine themed insights sessions, delivered by some of the most established fintech entrepreneurs, covering topics such as regulation, partnering with established financial services firms and expanding internationally. The cohort will also attend networking events to meet key stakeholders and decision makers, and the programme will culminate with a three-day international showcase trip to the US.

25 companies will be selected by a panel of expert judges, including Eileen Burbidge, Partner at Passion Capital & Chair of Tech Nation; Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank; and Simon Taylor, Co-Founder and Blockchain Practice Lead at 11:FS (full list in notes).  

Though external funding is not a requirement, applying companies must be at a stage of development equivalent to seed or Series A, have a product in market used actively, and be headquartered in the UK. The programme is open to B2B companies, and for the first time this year Tech Nation is also accepting B2C companies onto the programme.

The 2019 programme is announced just weeks after the launch of the annual state-of-the-nation Tech Nation Report, which revealed that the UK is number one in the world for scaleup investment into fintech firms – generating £4.5bn in funding between 2015 and 2018.

The 2018 cohort of the Tech Nation Fintech Growth Programme contributed to this success, raising an average of £1.1m each last year. Of the 20 companies, 35% were based outside London, and 40% had a female founder or co-founder.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: “The UK is number one in the world for scaleup investment into fintech firms, generating £4.5 billion in funding between 2015 and 2018. That’s why we are accelerating the development of this already thriving sector through the Fintech Sector Strategy, and the Tech Nation Growth Programme is an important part of that. The country is full of exciting new companies that can break the mould and make our financial sector even stronger, and I urge all of them to get involved in this year’s programme.”

Eileen Burbidge Chair of Tech Nation, HM Treasury’s Special Envoy for Fintech, Chair of the Fintech Delivery Panel and Partner at Passion Capital, said: “Last year the Tech Nation Fintech Growth programme attracted an extremely high calibre of participants, and this year we are looking for equally diverse, innovative and ambitious fintech business leaders to apply. Additionally, we were delighted that in 2018, 40% of the cohort elected onto the programme had a female founder or co-founder and hope to be able to continue championing diversity through this important programme.”

How intense is the fintech growth programme? The programme lasts for six months and includes a 24-hour induction, a series of in-depth learning sessions, networking events with key stakeholders and a three-day international showcase trip. Joining is free and applications are now open. Spread over the six months, it offers:

Nine founder-focused sessions delivered by world-leading fintech entrepreneurs covering core issues, from investment to sales, partnerships and international expansion.
Two intimate networking sessions designed with the technical leadership team in mind, to foster peer-to-peer exchange and explore the challenges faced by CTOs and Head Devs.
An international trip with the help of DIT, to showcase companies overseas and discover first hand from those who have already done it what it takes to crack the market abroad.
Events of networking bringing together corporate executives, investors, government representatives, regulators and other decision makers together around the cohort.

Applications open on the 5th June, and close on the 9th July. The application takes just 20 minutes to complete. The programme runs from September to March and includes a mix of sessions, meetups, networking events and one international trip.

Tech Nation Fintech Growth Programme judging panel:

Cathryn Lyall, Seismic Foundry
Simon Taylor, 11:FS
Richard Theo, Wealthify
Louise Smith, RBS
Lisa Wood, Atom Bank
James Varga, The ID Co
Imran Gulamhuseinwala, Open Banking Implementation Entity
Samantha Bedford, CYBG
Catherine Wines, WorldRemit
Anne Boden, Starling Bank
Anil Stocker, MarketInvoice
Al Lukies, Motive Partners
Eileen Burbidge, Passion Capital & Tech Nation
Tim Levene, Augmentum Fintech
Paulette Rowe, Facebook

Last year’s Fintech cohort (2018):

Key stats:

Sub-sectors include:  Capital Markets, SME Tools, Payments, Regulation & Financial Inclusion
Average age of business: 3-years
Average revenue: £260,406
Average raised: £1,246,650
Two companies from the cohort raised Series A during the programme


Airtime Rewards – Manchester – Loyalty
Akoni – London – SME Tools
AltFi Data (rebranded to Brismo in Nov 2018) – London – Data Management
Coinfirm – London – Regulation for Blockchain
CoInvestor – Canterbury – Asset Management
CreditLadder – London – Financial Inclusion (Treasury award winner)
Delio – Cardiff – Asset Management 
Enforcd – London – Regulations
Fiskl – London – SME Tools
Float – Edinburgh – SME Tools
Funding Options – London – SME Tools
LOQBOX – Bristol – Financial Inclusion
Maxatta – London – Robotic Process Automation
MishiPay – London – Payments
SteelEye – London – Regulations
Sustainably – Edinburgh – Charity 
Tail Offers – London – Loyalty 
TAINA Technology – London – Regulation
Thyngs – Norwich – Payments
TransFICC – London – Capital Markets