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Tech Nation to cease operations as government funding dries up

The decision to shut down could throw the future of the tech visa scheme into doubt

Tech Nation has announced it will cease operations following the recent termination of its government grant funding.  

The government-backed industry body, which has supported the UK tech ecosystem for nearly a decade, confirmed today that it will officially close on 31 March 2023.

In a statement, the organisation confirmed that in the wake of the DCMS awarding grant funding to Barclays Eagle Labs, its remaining activities are “not viable on a standalone basis”.  

Barclays Eagle Labs was chosen to lead the delivery of the DCMS’ Digital Growth grant earlier this month on the grounds that it offered ‘better value for taxpayer money’.  

The decision sparked criticism from some industry stakeholders.  

“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,” the organisation said.  

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

Critical mass and impact 

Tech Nation said it has “exhaustively explored” how it could continue operating without core government grant funding but after a lengthy consultation, the decision was made to shut down operations.  

"Continuing without core funding would compromise our status as a public interest company,” it said in a statement today. “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 Nation said it has notified the Home Office of its plans to cease operations and that redundancies are expected.  

“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.” 

Visa programme in doubt 

Tech Nation’s decision to shut down operations throws the continued delivery of its visa programme into doubt.  

While the industry body said the scheme will “continue in the immediate term”, it is yet to provide additional information on how this programme will be delivered in future.

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The decision to grant Eagle Labs the Digital Growth grant earlier this month raised similar concerns over the delivery of programmes such as the visa scheme, which has supported thousands of visa applicants to date.

However, the DCMS said at the time that its decision would have no impact on the visa scheme or any other related initiatives.

Gerard Grech, founding CEO of Tech Nation said the organisation has played a key role in transforming the UK tech economy into a “global powerhouse” over the last decade, and thanked the government for its support.  

“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,” he said.  

“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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