Tech Nation will cease operations and seek to transfer its assets following termination of its core government grant funding.

The UK government recently handed the £12.1 million Digital Growth Grant contract – designed to help small and scaling tech businesses across the UK – to Barclays Eagle Labs.

Tech Nation has been working ‘around the clock’ to secure its future as it tries to fill the shortfall in its funding.

However it will close its doors from 31st March 2023 as its “remaining activities are not viable on a standalone basis”.

“As a direct result of the DCMS grant withdrawal, Tech Nation will be ceasing all existing operations through a carefully planned wind-down and has commenced a redundancy consultation process,” read a statement.

“Tech Nation is also actively seeking interested parties to acquire its portfolio of assets to take forward in a new guise.”

Tech Nation was founded by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government and runs growth programmes, a digital academy, networking conferences, international expansion programmes, sandboxes, panels and in-depth sector research, analysis and reports.

More than 95% of startups featuring on its accelerator programmes have gone on to scale, with more than a third of all tech unicorns and decacorns created in the UK having graduated from one of these – collectively raising over £28 billion in venture capital and capital markets. 

Monzo, Revolut, Depop, Bloom & Wild, Zilch, Just Eat, Darktrace, Marshmallow, Ocado, Skyscanner, Peak AI and Deliveroo are among the more than 5,000 businesses it has supported.

Its DCMS contract concludes at the end of March.

“We have exhaustively explored whether Tech Nation could continue without core government grant funding, but have concluded after extensive consultation that this is not an option,” it stated.

“Firstly, because it is not viable for critical mass and impact. The work we do with our accelerator programmes, insights and research reports, the Growth Platform, visa processing for the Home Office, and so much more, has all been built on the foundation of our core grant funding from DCMS. 

“With this foundation removed, Tech Nation’s remaining activities are not viable on a standalone basis and the unique Tech Nation model that we have built upon this foundation can no longer be supported.

“Furthermore, continuing without core funding would compromise our status as a Public Interest company. We are a non-profit, with an obligation to act in the best interest of the public and the scaleup community we serve. We cannot continue to deliver for scaleups impactfully and impartially without core public funding underpinning everything we do, and with commercial funding alone.”

Tech sector reacts as Tech Nation to be wound up

The organisation has now commenced a redundancy consultation process for all permanent employees. For those whose primary role is DCMS delivery work, it has initiated TUPE discussions with Barclays Bank and informed DCMS of this. 

“The Home Office has been notified of Tech Nation’s plans to cease operations and our visa programme will continue in the immediate term,” it added.

Tech Nation said it has started discussions with mission-based organisations over taking its brand forward, with any expressions of interest to be sent to [email protected] before 14th February.

Tech Nation claims to have delivered one of the best ROIs for the taxpayer, delivering £15 return on every £1 funded by the UK government. 

“Tech Nation is a purpose-led organisation, with a mission to serve the UK’s tech ecosystem,” reflected Gerard Grech, founding CEO. 

“By delivering services and insights impartially across Britain, Tech Nation has made a huge and positive impact on the UK’s digital economy. The UK now boasts over 20 places with one tech unicorn or more, five times what it was in 2014. 

“Many of Britain’s most successful tech companies, from Monzo to Deliveroo, and from Skyscanner to Darktrace, have passed through one or more of Tech Nation’s growth programs. We have helped champion and support innovators in everything from AI to FinTech to Climate tech and more. In doing so, we have helped spread digital growth and jobs nationwide. 

“I want to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Tech Nation team, to our ecosystem partners and all the inspirational innovators and entrepreneurs we have worked with along the way. I am grateful to the government’s support over nine years, and feel proud of all we 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, after the US and China.”

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