Founders Forum to relaunch Tech Nation in autumn

Carolyn Dawson, Founders Forum Group Carolyn Dawson, CEO, Founders Forum Group. Image credit: Founders Forum Group

Entrepreneur network Founders Forum Group is gearing up to relaunch Tech Nation this autumn, UKTN can reveal.

Sources told UKTN that Founders Forum Group is considering a September or October launch for the Tech Nation brand it acquired in April.

Tech Nation, which provided startup and scaleup support for more than a decade, closed operations at the end of March after losing out on a £12m government grant – its primary source of income – to Barclays Eagle Labs.

Founders Forum Group confirmed to UKTN that it is preparing for an autumn reboot and will be continuing some of Tech Nation’s previous programmes, along with providing research insights on the UK’s tech industry.

UKTN understands that Founders Forum is still deciding which programmes it will revive.

Among those being considered are: Libra, a programme for ethnic minority founders; Rising Stars, a competition for early-stage startups; Net Zero X, a programme for climate tech companies; and Future Fifty, an initiative for late-stage founders.

The relaunched Tech Nation will be commercially run, but Founders Forum is yet to disclose the exact details of the business model.

Gerard Grech, founding CEO of Tech Nation, will hold an advisory board role at the new Tech Nation.

Founders Forum Group declined to comment on whether any other senior ex-Tech Nation employees would be rejoining the organisation.

However, a spokesperson confirmed that the new team consists of a mixture of new hires, Founders Forum staff and former Tech Nation employees.

Since Tech Nation ceased operations, a small team has continued to process endorsements for the Global Talent visa scheme. A Founders Forum spokesperson said it remains in talks with the Home Office over the future of the scheme, but continues to accept applications.

The spokesperson added the new Tech Nation will be a third-party “voice of founders”. It will be vying with Barclays Eagle Labs to provide startup and scaleup support, with the banking subsidiary kickstarting its own programmes in April.

Carolyn Dawson, CEO of Founders Forum Group, said on this week’s UKTN Podcast that Barclays Eagle Labs’ plans are “very different” from the previous Tech Nation due to it outsourcing work to local partners, but highlighted its continued focus on startups outside of London and underrepresented founders, along with earlier-stage companies.

On the plans to relaunch Tech Nation, Dawson said: “Obviously the funding has been lost so we have to rebuild this. What we feel passionate about is the programmes continue, that the insights and research continue and also that there is a national competition for earlier-stage companies and that all of this is done for across the UK – also looking at international growth and expansion – so that we can do more to help founders think about those international growth strategies.”

Listen to the full episode here, along with all previous episodes of the UKTN Podcast.