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Friday, December 08, 2023

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Tech Nation Announces It Will Cease Operations

After a decade as a government-backed organisation serving the UK scaleup tech ecosystem, we are today announcing that Tech Nation will be closing its doors from 31st March 2023.

Tech Nation’s core grant funding from DCMS is being awarded to Barclays Bank. With this foundation removed, Tech Nation’s 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.

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

A golden decade for UK tech: we are proud to be handing over a UK tech sector transformed

When Tech Nation was founded by the coalition government, the UK’s tech economy was burgeoning. Tech Nation’s growth programs, digital academy, networking conferences, international expansion programs, sandboxes, panels and in-depth sector research, analysis and reports have helped shape the trajectory and success of UK tech; the no.1 digital economy in Europe and no.3 globally, valued at $1trn (16x in 10 years), employing 5m people (from 2m in the decade) across the country, with over 20 places in the UK home to one tech unicorn or more (5x in 10 years).

Within the UK tech ecosystem, Tech Nation has been laser-focussed on accelerating scaleup growth. Scaleups create over 90% of all UK tech jobs and are what drive investment, productivity improvements, export and regional success. The market for startup support has matured, however there continues to be no single organisation which focuses on tech scaleups as Tech Nation does. And we’re proud that the scaleups Tech Nation has supported over the decade have disproportionately thrived.

While 80% of startups fail within their first 2-5 years, over 95% of startups on Tech Nation’s accelerator programs have gone on to scale. More than a third of all tech unicorns and decacorns created in the UK have graduated from a Tech Nation program, collectively raising over £28bn so far in venture capital and capital markets. Our alumni includes the biggest names in UK tech – Monzo, Revolut, Depop, Bloom & Wild, Zilch, Just Eat, Darktrace, Marshmallow, Ocado, Skyscanner, Peak AI and Deliveroo, to name just a few of the 5,000+ businesses we’ve supported.

As a government-backed national asset, Tech Nation has delivered one of the best ROIs for the taxpayer, delivering £15 return on every £1 funded by the UK Government.

Why Tech Nation is ceasing operations from 31st March 2023

Tech Nation will cease operations on 31st March 2023, when our DCMS contract concludes.

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.

Firstly, because it is not viable for critical mass and impact. The work we do with our accelerator programs, 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.

Next steps for Tech Nation

We are regretfully commencing a redundancy consultation process as of today for all of our permanent employees. For those whose primary role is DCMS delivery work, we initiated TUPE discussions with Barclays Bank and have informed DCMS.

Our DCMS contract concludes on 31st March, and thereafter all current activities will be wound up. The Home Office has been notified of Tech Nation’s plans to cease operations and our visa programme will continue in the immediate term.

Meanwhile, we have a portfolio of Tech Nation assets and an internationally acclaimed brand, and we have already started discussions with mission-based organisations to take these forward for the next decade. We are inviting Expressions of Interest from interested parties. The deadline for EOIs is 14th February 2023, and they can be submitted to: [email protected].

A debt of gratitude – we could not have done it without you  

Tech Nation ends this impactful chapter with pride in everything it has accomplished, in awe of the incredible individuals and businesses we have been privileged to champion, and in gratitude to everyone who has been part of our journey.

We want to thank the thousands of tech founders who have participated in our programs, training, events and research over the years; in particular for how they approached their involvement with candidacy, commitment and collaboration, which has been the foundation of the strength of the Tech Nation network.

We thank our partners and sponsors who have contributed invaluable expertise and resources, to bolster our grant-funded activity and help build connections between scaleups and corporates.

A huge thank you to the thousands of individuals who have participated as judges, coaches, trainers, advisers and thought leaders for our alumni companies. This group includes the names of very best, most respected people in UK tech, who have generously given back to the sector and supported the success of the next generation of scaleups through working with us.

Thank you to the government for the vision to build the first phase of the UK tech growth revolution and for backing us for the last decade, fuelling the creation of a connected UK-wide ecosystem of high-growth, high-potential tech scaleups, creating jobs and prosperity across the UK. And thank you to the tech and scaleup ecosystem partners, regional players and industry bodies who we have worked alongside to fuel UK tech’s strength and resilience.

Most of all, we want to thank our people, our Technationers, past and present, who have served the tech ecosystem with such commitment, enthusiasm and talent. The success we have achieved for UK tech is thanks to you all.

We hope that the incredible growth, progress and momentum we have driven over the past decade at the nexus of the UK scaleup ecosystem can be maintained and capitalised on.

Looking to the next decade of UK tech 

The Government has announced ambitions to be a Science and Technology Superpower. It hopes to take on Silicon Valley, and to become the most innovative country in the world. But for the first time in decades, macroeconomic trends threaten Britain’s tech momentum.

It is vital that Government rhetoric is now paired with policies and support mechanisms to match.

Now is the moment for the UK Government to set a clear vision with coherent plans for the next decade of tech scaleup growth and success, where the UK can race away from European countries even further and truly compete with Silicon Valley’s finest.

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