Fast Track researches and compiles two annual sub-tables, published in our Fast Track 100 supplement with The Sunday Times, featuring promising private British companies from a cross-section of industries that do not qualify for the main league table but deserve special recognition. The Disruptors to Watch focuses on companies with the potential to disrupt their market; and the Ones to Watch features companies that are set to grow rapidly.
The 10 finalists for each programme are selected by a judging panel and are featured in the Sunday Times supplement. Their senior directors are also invited to the awards dinner, where they receive a certificate, with one overall winner presented with an award.
Disruptors to Watch highlights 10 companies with disruptive potential from a cross-section of industries, rather than claiming to identify the 10 companies with the most disruptive potential.
The research takes into account factors such as business model, management team and investor credibility, as well as total funds raised.
Past winners include Babylon Health, the healthcare app company whose investors include the founders of DeepMind, and last year’s winner Graphcore, the chip manufacturer backed by Sequoia Capital and the co-founder of ARM Holdings.
This year’s Disruptors to Watch 10 will be published in the Fast Track 100 supplement in the Sunday Times on 1 December; and the overall winner will be presented with an award sponsored by Barclays at the Fast Track 100 awards event in September.
|Company||HQ Location||Disruptive activities|
|Artios PharmaCancer treatment biopharmaceutics||Cambridge||Founded in 2016, this company is developing treatments to stop cancer cells self-repairing: this kills them or makes them easier to eliminate with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Spun out from the commercial partnerships team at Cancer Research UK, it has raised $122m from investors including Pfizer and Novartis.|
|CazooUsed car sales platform||Central London||Aims to disrupt the £50bn used car market with its online platform, which delivers cars to buyers’ homes in as little as 72 hours, with a seven-day money-back guarantee. It is the creation of Alex Chesterman, who founded Zoopla, and has raised £57m from investors such as Octopus Ventures and DMG Ventures.|
|Hummingbird TechnologiesAgricultural analytics platform||Central London||This company applies artificial intelligence (AI) to data from satellites, drones and aircraft to analyse crops and help farmers identify problems. It has raised $16m to date from backers including BASF, the European Space Agency and Beeswax Dyson, Sir James Dyson’s agricultural firm.|
|OrbexSpace launch services||Moray||Plans to launch its small satellite rocket in 2021 from a spaceport being developed in northern Scotland. Orbex says the rocket will be fuelled by liquid biopropane, which it says has never been used in a commercial rocket engine, and will cut carbon emissions by 90%. The company has raised £34m from the UK Space Agency and High-Tech Gründerfonds, among others.|
|Prowler.ioAI technology developer||Cambridge||Aims to use AI to help companies in sectors ranging from education to logistics to speed up and improve decision-making. The company has 115 employees in offices in Cambridge and abroad. It raised $34m in May — when Tencent was among the investors, and the company was valued at $100m — bringing the total it has raised to $50m.|
|TessianEmail security provider||Central London||Claims to have developed the first security platform that uses machine learning to protect against human error. The company says its software has been trained on more than 1bn emails, and its customers include Rightmove and the British Medical Association. It has raised $59m from backers including Sequoia Capital, Balderton Capital and Accel.|
|TideSME banking app||Central London||Has launched a digital current account for business owners, with benefits such as automated book-keeping and integrated invoicing. The bank claims to have more than 100,000 customers in the UK. It has raised $95m from the SBI Group, Augmentum Fintech, Passion Capital and others.|
|Tokamak EnergyFusion energy developer||Oxfordshire||Aims to develop fusion power to provide a safe and cost-effective way to fulfil the world’s growing energy demands. The company has raised more than £50m from investors including Legal & General Capital and David Harding, the founder and chief executive of Winton Group. It has also developed ground-breaking high field magnets using high temperature superconductors.|
|WagestreamEmployee financial wellbeing provider||Central London||Allows employees who encounter unplanned expenses to receive wages before payday, so they can avoid going overdrawn or taking out payday loans. The firm has raised £45m from sources such as QED Investors, Balderton, Northzone and Village Global, which is backed by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg.|
|WejoVehicle data platform||Cheshire||Creating a marketplace for the data generated by connected vehicles, such as live traffic and parking updates, and analysis of trends. Wejo predicts that 17m vehicles will be on its platform by the end of the year and has raised $143m from investors including General Motors, which owns a 35% stake in the company.|
I’m really proud to be recognised with all these other incredible entrepreneurs Nicolas Cary, co-founder & president, Blockchain
To run a disruptive business you’ve got to be prepared to be resilient. The whole nature of disruption is that you are changing people's lives Humphrey Cobbold, CEO, PureGym
Ones to Watch showcases a cross section of companies which fall short of the strict criteria for the main league table, but which are set to grow rapidly in the future. The research takes into account factors such as past sales, growth forecasts, international expansion and external investment.
Last year’s judging panel included Fast Track’s founder, Hamish Stevenson.
Past winners include the burger chain Five Guys, which has achieved rapid growth, and Loungers, the café and bar operator which floated; and last year’s winner Huel, the fast-growth powdered food nutrition brand.
This year’s Ones to Watch 10 was published in the Fast Track 100 supplement in The Sunday Times on the 1 December; and the overall winner will be presented with an award sponsored by Virgin at the Fast Track 100 awards event in September.
|Company||HQ location||Year end||Sales £000s||Staff||Founded||Comment|
|Churchill Contract ServicesFacilities services provider||Hertfordshire||Jun 13||73,198||7,639||1991||Founders started with a cleaning van in 1991 and now employ more than 7,600 staff, having expanded the company partly through acquisitions|
|Express EngineeringPrecision engineer||Gateshead||Mar 13||29,443||218||1973||Growth has come from investment in manufacturing facilities in Britain and Brazil, and the firm recently secured funding from LDC, a private equity firm|
|Grace ColeBeauty products retailer||Cheshire||Feb 13||7,664||21||2007||Its bath and body products are sold in stores such as Harrods and Debenhams, and it also exports to more than 70 countries|
|LoungersCafé and bar operator||Bristol||Apr 13||‡22,143||850||2002||Runs 40 café bars and plans to double this within three years. It sold a significant minority stake to Piper Private Equity for £16m last year|
|Metcalfe’s Food CompanyRetail food brand||Central London||May 13||‡3,687||15||2010||Set up by Pret a Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe and run by Robert Jakobi, it sells food and drink under the Itsu Grocery and Metcalfe’s Skinny brands|
|Orchard Valley FoodsFood supplier||Worcestershire||May 13||11,988||38||2004||Customers include home cooks inspired by the BBC’s Great British Bake Off, as well as national chains such as Marks & Spencer, Pizza Hut and Greggs|
|Ovo EnergyEnergy supplier||Bristol||Dec 12||102,940||162||2009||Founded four years ago, it already has 140,000 customers and managing director Stephen Fitzpatrick is aiming for a million by 2017|
|Saltire EnergyOil drilling equipment provider||Aberdeen||Jun 13||32,993||52||1986||Supplies drilling tools to the global oil and gas sector, and sales have grown 50% in the past year to £33m, with operating profit of £18.6m|
|The Training RoomTraining provider||Poole||May 13||‡8,592||114||2006||Has taught 3,000 fitness instructors in the past year, and links up with gym providers such as Fitness First to help personal trainers secure jobs|
|WoolOversKnitwear retailer||West Sussex||Mar 13||15,218||58||1989||Has evolved from a market trader to an online retailer, selling to countries as far afield as Canada, Russia and New Zealand|
* supplied by company † annualised figure
Sitting next to Sir Richard Branson at dinner and bouncing around ideas is something I’d never have imagined I’d be doing! Lesa Bennett, Olivia Burton
Being named ‘one to watch’ is a great achievement and recognises the hard work of our entire team who have contributed to our significant growth Mike Loggie, Saltire Energy
It is a great honour and privilege to have been selected for the Fast Track Ones to Watch Robert Jakobi, Metcalfe’s Food Company
The first people we shared the news with were the staff. We are delighted that we have been recognised in this way Mike Forrester, Orchard Valley Foods