6 scaling UK health-tech start-ups to watch

4 Feb 2021

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Health-tech dominates the latest round of scaling start-ups selected for a six-month UK accelerator.

Tech Nation has announced the newest cohort for Upscale, its flagship growth accelerator focused on mid-stage tech companies in the UK.

Upscale targets fast-growing tech companies and aims to speed up their progress. To qualify, companies must be backed by venture capital, having raised a Series A funding round, or be seeing revenue of £1.5m to £5m. Upscale companies must also be growing at a rate of about 10pc month-on-month. Previous participants in the accelerator include banking start-up Monzo and e-commerce disrupter Depop.

Upscale programme lead Liam Ward said the latest roster represents the programme’s “most regionally diverse cohort ever”, with almost half of all companies based outside London.

“Despite the events of the last 12 months, we’re seeing some exceptional companies scaling at Series A stage, with health-tech and the future of work being represented particularly strongly. We’re excited to adapt Upscale to support the new challenges that founders are facing around remote work, fundraising and culture; and to work with such an exciting group of leaders,” he said.

Start-ups selected for Upscale 6.0 will enter a six-month programme offering more than 60 hours of support from appointed ‘scale coaches’.

The 33 start-ups selected for this year’s cohort span a variety of sectors including adtech, edtech, enterprise SaaS, fintech and deeptech. But, as Ward noted, it’s health-tech that has the greatest representation on the programme, with six scaling start-ups selected from this sector.

This could be a reflection of post-pandemic opportunities in health-tech, but it’s also a continuation of the UK’s strength in health-tech overall. Globally, only the US and China top the UK for health-tech investment, and early-stage investment in UK health-tech is rising, according to Tech Nation’s figures.

London leads the way with three health-tech start-ups selected for Uspcale 6.0, followed by two from Oxford and one from Belfast.


Half of Upscale 6.0’s health-tech cohort hails from the start-up city of London, starting with AccuRx. Founded by Jacob Haddad and Laurence Bargery, AccuRx focuses on solving communications challenges in healthcare with its platform.

It supports communication between healthcare professionals and their patients with NHS-approved tools for sending text messages, performing video consultations, conducting medical surveys, securely send digital documents and more. The company raised £8.8m in Series A funding in February 2019, led by Atomico.


Fellow London health-tech LabGenius develops new protein-based drugs (biologics) using its novel drug discovery platform, which is powered by machine learning. LabGenius believes this platform can drastically lower both the cost and risk associated with drug development.

The company initially announced a $10m Series A round in October 2019, led by Lux Capital and Obvious Ventures. Atomico then led an oversubscribed Series A extension round of a further $15m the following year.

Locate A Locum

Belfast’s Locate a Locum is the only start-up from Northern Ireland selected for the Upscale 6.0 programme. Founded by Jonathon Clarke and Michael Budden in 2014, it secured £1m equity funding from Techstart Ventures, Co-Fund NI and a number of private investors in 2019.

Locate a Locum enables healthcare workers and organisations to connect via an online booking platform. It currently serves more than 8,000 pharmacies across the UK, including Boots, Superdrug and Lloyds and claims to have registered more than 12,000 locum pharmacists.

Last year, the company announced that it would be investing more than £1.3m into research and development with support from Invest NI.


Oxford university spin-out Navenio has set out to transform hospital management with a system that set tasks for healthcare staff based on their location. The company claims this system can double output by unlocking hidden capacity within hospital teams.

Described as an ‘Uber for indoors’, the company was founded by Tim Weil and Niki Trigoni in 2015. Navenio has had lots of success in raising funding since then, with its most significant injection coming from a £9m Series A round in May 2020.

Second Nature

Our last London start-up on the list, Second Nature, is in the business of supporting weight loss goals through technology and coaching. Selected as an NHS service provider as part of its ‘Healthier You’ programme, Second Nature is an app-based subscription service that tracks users’ weight, habits, food intake and steps taken.

Founded in 2015 by Chris Edson and Mike Gibbs, the company secured Series A funding of $10m in February 2020.


Finally, another Oxford start-up – this time focused on providing biopharmaceutical clients with real-world evidence of how their drugs and treatments are performing. Vitaccess designs and implements patient-centric digital studies, gathering data on patients’ everyday quality of life outside of the clinical setting. This data is then presented in real-time analytics dashboards.

Founded in 2017 by Mark Larkin, Vitaccess has grown to a team of 50 working around the world.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.