The ultimate pitch competition, designed for innovative early-stage start-ups in the UK, has announced it is officially open for submissions. Tech Nation’s Rising Stars competition is open to digital tech business at the seed to pre-series A funding stage and will see the lucky winners – chosen from 8-10 regional finalists – announced at the live final during London Tech Week, on 10 June 2024.

The awards, which provide a valuable platform for tech start-ups to showcase their innovations, will close for online applications on 25 March 2024, with judges then selecting a number of regional finalists who will be invited to pitch live later in the year.

This year, Tech Nation has chosen a regional partner for each of the six locations home to leading start-ups. Judging the Midlands cohort (West Midlands, East Midlands and East of England) is TechWM, the region’s economic development agency and tech advocacy group.

On their partnership with Tech Nation for the Rising Stars awards, Yiannis Maos, CEO and founder of TechWM, commented:

“TechWM has been involved in the Rising Stars competition since it started five years ago, so we’re thrilled that we’re still able to take part, and in such a prestigious way too! It is often the case that awards ceremonies and competitions are expensive to enter or the criteria excludes startups who aren’t yet at a fully funded stage, let alone a profitable stage. That’s why competitions like this one being backed by a powerhouse such as Tech Nation is such a huge win for the UK’s ecosystem; it really is a chance for those smaller, lesser-known companies to showcase their talent and innovation on a large scale.

“The Midlands is jam packed with tech and digital talent, so we already know how difficult it is going to be to choose our regional finalists. However, we’re so excited to dive into the applications and discover talent that we might not have seen yet. The deadline is drawing near so if you’re reading this and meet the criteria, please don’t hesitate to submit your application. You never know where it might lead you!”

In an effort to give start-ups the chance to showcase their creative talents and community support, the Rising Stars awards takes a slightly different approach to the usual application process, with applicants encouraged to submit their virtual pitch via Instagram (@technationhq) alongside a questionnaire. Eight to ten regional finalists are then chosen and given the opportunity to pitch in person later in the year to a panel of expert judges from across the tech and entrepreneurial landscape. Grand finalists will then be given the opportunity to pitch live at London Tech Week.

To be eligible, hopeful applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Headquartered in the UK
  • A digital tech business with a product or service to sell
  • At Seed to pre-Series A funding stage. If the company is bootstrapped, maximum annual revenues must be below £1.5 million
  • Able to demonstrate market traction
  • At least one active client or pilot
  • Ambition to scale
  • Able to commit to Rising Stars judging dates

The top three finalists of the Rising Stars awards will receive a prize bundle designed to supercharge their growth journey, including branding and PR support courtesy of Founders Makers; a £60k hiring pledge courtesy of Founders Keepers; a legal audit by Founders Law; and an out-of-home media package worth up to £20K in value each, courtesy of Nurture by JCDecaux. Winner with also have the opportunity to become a VenturePath member and gain access to a host of business support and growth services.

Sharing their thoughts on this year’s awards, Chantelle Young, Programme Lead at Tech Nation, comments:

“Tech Nation’s Rising Stars Awards offer an unparalleled platform for emerging tech talent across the UK, and we are honoured to partner with TechWM to lead the Finals for the Midlands region. At Tech Nation, we are dedicated to fostering innovation and empowering emerging tech talent nationwide. Collaborating with TechWM allows us to leverage their deep regional knowledge and impressive track record of supporting start-ups.

“This partnership provides Midlands-based start-ups with a unique platform to showcase their innovations to a broader audience and catapult their growth. Together, we aim to elevate the Midlands tech ecosystem and support the growth of promising start-ups with world-changing potential.”

Online applications should be submitted via Instagram, with a corresponding questionnaire submitted via the Tech Nation application page, found with more information here.

Skip to content