Tech Nation has announced it will cease operations after more than a decade of supporting the UK’s startup ecosystem, after losing key funding from Barclays.
In January 2023, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that it was Barclays’ startup incubator, Eagle Labs awarded its £12m Digital Growth Grantwhich will take over from Tech Nation to manage the fund from the end of March
Many in the UK tech sector – including founders, executives and investors spoke against the decisionArguing that “government-backed providers should be grounded in the startup ecosystem and local ecosystem across the country – not riding on its coat-tails”.
Tech Nation said that, as a direct result of the DCMS grant withdrawal, it will cease all existing operations through a carefully planned wind-down and has launched a redundancy consultation process for staff.
It added that it is actively seeking interested parties to acquire its portfolio of assets to move forward under a new guise.
“We fully explored whether Tech Nation could continue without core government grant funding, but after extensive discussion concluded that was not an option,” it said in a press release. “First, because it’s not viable for critical mass and impact. The work we do with our accelerator program, insights and research reports, growth platform, visa processing for the Home Office and more is all built on our core grant funding from DCMS. has been
“If this foundation is removed, Tech Nation’s remaining operations will no longer be viable on a standalone basis and the unique Tech Nation model we have built on this foundation will no longer be supported.”
Tech Nation said the Home Office had been informed of its plans to cease operations, but it would continue to operate. Global Talent Visa Program In the immediate term up to September 2022, 2,560 visas were issued under this route.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are working closely with Tech Nation to ensure the continuity of the DigiTech strand of the Global Talent Visa in the short term, while we explore the long-term changes required in light of the planned closure of Tech Nation.” “We will take every available step to ensure applicants are not disadvantaged by global talent routes already closed, so that the UK can benefit from the brightest and best living and working here.”
Gerard Grech, Tech Nation’s founding CEO, added that the firm had a “hugely positive impact” on the UK’s digital economy.
“Many of Britain’s most successful tech companies, from Monzo to Deliveroo and Skyscanner to Darktrace, have been through one or more of Tech Nation’s growth programmes,” he said. “We’ve helped champion and innovate everything from AI [artficial intelligence] From fintech to climate technology and more. By doing so, we have helped spread digital growth and jobs across the country. For every pound invested in Tech Nation, we return £15.
“I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Tech Nation team, our ecosystem partners and all the inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs,” Grech said. “I am grateful for the government’s support over the nine years, and feel proud of what we have achieved. It has been an incredible journey. Together we have made the UK tech economy a global powerhouse for tech talent and now third in the world for tech investment behind the US and China.
Commenting on the shuttering, a DCMS spokesperson said the department has supported Tech Nation since 2017 to accelerate the growth of startups and scaleups across the UK.
“Our decision to make the Digital Growth Grant competitive brings the funding in line with most government grants,” they said. “Barclays Eagle Labs succeeded because their application represented the best value for taxpayers’ money, benefited the most startups and scaleups over the next two years, and received the highest score by an independent panel. We are committed to supporting Tech Nation until March 2023.