Tech Nation faces an uncertain future after the government handed a £12 million contract to Barclays Eagle Labs.

The Digital Growth Grant is worth a total of £12.09m and is designed to help small and scaling tech businesses across the UK.

In a statement the government-funded Tech Nation said it has been working ‘around the clock’ to secure its future as it tries to fill the shortfall in its funding.

Tech journalist Martin Bryant (pictured) told BusinessCloud: “The staff at Tech Nation have developed a reputation for helping tech businesses across the UK grow, and I’ve met many founders who have nothing but positive things to say about the support they’ve received.

“It’s difficult to know how Barclays will compare on a national scale, but first it has a lot to prove if it is to get past the tech community’s general wariness about whether a bank is a suitable steward for this kind of support.”

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Tech Nation will continue to deliver remaining Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) grant funding until March 2023. The Digital Growth Grant will be awarded to Barclays Eagle Labs from April 2023 and will fund activity until March 2025.

Tech Nation staff are expected to find out later in the next few weeks  if they’ve still got jobs when their existing funding runs out.

Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy Paul Scully said: “Barclays Eagle Labs are digital industry experts and will help tens of thousands of tech firms and founders to achieve their dreams and create jobs and economic growth.

“The Digital Growth Grant was awarded following an open competition and rigorous assessment process. The Barclays Eagle Labs bid represented the best value for taxpayers’ money as the full grant will be allocated to supporting the UK tech ecosystem, with Eagle Labs absorbing all operational and people costs associated with delivering the programme of activity.

“It will enable Eagle Labs to launch new programmes to grow tech businesses as well as increasing access to Eagle Labs’ existing services. The funding will double the number of mentoring sessions offered to tech firms to 1,500 a year.

“The independent panel assessing applications concluded Eagle Labs was uniquely positioned to deliver targeted support across the country. A bespoke regional partnership programme will ensure funding and training reflects the challenges digital businesses are facing in their area.”

Amanda Allan, director of Barclays Eagle Labs, said: “Eagle Labs’ vision is to make the UK tech sector an engine for growth and for the UK to be the best place in the world to start and grow a tech business.

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“Through the Digital Growth Grant, we’re excited to double down to reach more businesses across the country with our best-in-class business growth programmes and bespoke regional support.

“We have a track record of supporting over 8,000 start-ups and high-growth businesses since we launched in 2015 and we’re proud that, due to our established Eagle Labs network, we can pass through all grant funds to our delivery partners and programmes, helping to maximise the impact of the grant in supporting the UK tech ecosystem.”

In a statement Tech Nation said:  “Our alumni includes the biggest names in UK tech; Monzo, Revolut, Bloom and Wild, Zilch, Just Eat, DarkTrace, Marshmallow, Sky Scanner, Peak AI and Deliveroo, to name just a few of the 5,000+ businesses we’ve supported.

“In anticipation of the government’s decision to award the Digital Growth Grant to another party, we have been working around the clock to secure our future and continue delivering for UK scaleups.

“It is essential that any route forward for Tech Nation ensures we are able to continue to act in the best interest of the tech community and put the needs of scaleups front and centre. This is the principle that has always guided us, and will guide our decision making over the next steps we take from here.”

Eagle Labs is operationally independent from Barclays’ banking services and safeguards are in place to ensure the Digital Growth Grant funding is only claimed for the intended purposes.