The demise of Tech Nation and tackling the shortage of funding for female founders were among the issues discussed at the latest Tech Barometer event.

The popular quarterly event is organised by tech specialist Fairmont Recruitment and BusinessCloud and discusses the changing trends in tech, recruitment and investment.

Panellist Laura Sisson, investment manager at YFM Equity Partners, said she was disappointed that Tech Nation would be closing its doors after the UK government handed the £12.1 million Digital Growth Grant contract to Barclays Eagle Labs.

“There’s been a lot of investment from Tech Nation, particularly in the North West tech ecosystem and to see that fall away is a real shame,” she said. “The legacy that they’ve built up will live on.

“When you saw the merger with Tech North and Tech City UK it gave Tech Nation the firepower to be dedicating a lot of time, effort and resource to invest in the North West ecosystem.”

YFM Equity Partners specialise in Series A investments and Sisson said there was still an appetite to invest.

“Manchester has built itself up to be known locally and nationally as a great place to build a tech business,” she said.  “We, as investors, are there and ready to support them in that scale up.”

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Kai Ojo, managing director at Planisware UK, called on Barclays Eagle Labs to continue the good work Tech Nation had started.

“I think the closure of Tech Nation sends out a bad message to the tech community,” he said. “Tech Nation is very important in terms of the ecosystem that it has. As a tech company we’ve definitely benefited from them.

“My message to Barclays Eagle Labs is don’t forget what Tech Nation did. It needs to be replicated. Barclays Bank have got a huge infrastructure behind them and they can leverage that even more. Tech Nation did a lot of stuff from the roots up.”

Ojo urged businesses to be ‘net positive’ by working in their community and called for more support for start ups.

“Manchester is starting to realise its potential,” he said. “In Greater Manchester there’s a lot of talk about North and South. We need to focus on what we have because we’re doing a lot of stuff.

“We need to build some of the infrastructure around the tech businesses when it comes to things like recruitment and talent pools and make sure it really works for start ups because it’s not easy for start ups.”

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The final member of the panel was Jack Donohue, CEO and founder of Fairmont Recruitment.

He said confidence in the tech sector was high despite the fact some of the biggest firms were laying off staff.

“There’s a lot of investment in Manchester and a lot of start ups are popping up,” he said. “People are choosing Manchester over London, which is very healthy. Remote working means you can attract a bigger pool of people.

“Some of the big tech companies over hired massively during Covid and now they’re making big layoffs. In Q1 last year alone Facebook hired 10,000 people and now they’re making cuts.

“Post Covid, IT departments are taken a lot more seriously these days. Budgets for tech have increased.”

Charlotte Ashton, founder of Implicit Advisory, was one of the 50 strong audience and spoke about the combined challenge of funding for female founders and encouraging female entrepreneurs to seek investment.

“On the other side of the table there’s an issue of supply of female investors and decision makers,” she said. “A big part of the solution is bringing male advocates to the table so they understand a bit more about the problems and help in finding solutions.”

On March 2nd Fairmont Recruitment will be holding an event entitled ‘ChatGPT – what is it and are you ready?’