Tech City UK's heavily-PR'd Future Fifty programme that was set up to champion and support some of the UK's most promising technology companies and encourage them to list on UK markets is getting off to a slow start and is yet to deliver on its promises, Techworld can reveal.
The government-backed initiative, announced last April by Chancellor George Osborne and Tech City CEO Joanna Shields, has been criticised by several of the 50 companies that were cherry-picked to be on the list of the UK's fastest growing technology companies, all of which boast annual revenues in excess of £10 million.
The first 25 companies were announced in October and the remaining 25 were announced over a month ago on December 6 but a number of them say they are yet to receive anything that the programme promised, which is likely to spark criticism that the scheme may have been more about generating hype around London's tech scene rather than delivering any actual practical help to start-ups that may be considering whether to list in the UK or the US.
Tech City UK said last year that the 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. The organisation added that there will be a "continuous" programme of press and promotional backing, modular 'opt-in' business support and educational content and events.
Greg Marsh, CEO of One Fine Stay, a service that helps city travellers stay in luxury homes around the world, told Techworld that he's not sure if Tech City knows what it's doing with the Future Fifty programme. "It's a little bit announce first, figure out the plans second," he said, adding that it seems to be more about creating fireworks in the first instance and then drilling down to do the work after.
Meanwhile, a senior director at another Future Fifty company told Techworld in December that they had been waiting two weeks for a response from Shields, after they emailed the head of Tech City asking for some specific details on the type of support the company could expect to receive through the programme.
The start-up, who wished to remain anonymous, isn't the only company that Shields is yet to engage with on a personal level. Marsh said: "I haven't gained a great deal of her mind share but I understand that we are likely to have more time with her (in the future)."
Tech City UK responded by saying that Shields is "incredibly busy", adding that she gets hundreds of emails every day.
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