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‘Tech Nation 2.0’ to relaunch in October at Birmingham Tech Week

Founders Forum chief Carolyn Dawson described the relaunch as "Tech Nation 2.0"
Image credit: Founders Forum Group.

Startup growth network Tech Nation will relaunch in October during Birmingham Tech Week, UKTN can exclusively reveal.

Tech Nation closed operations in March after losing a bid for a £12m government grant – its primary source of income – to Barclays Eagle Labs.

Founders Forum Group, the entrepreneur community,  acquired the Tech Nation brand in April.

Tech Nation will officially relaunch on 16 October. Founders Forum Group CEO Carolyn Dawson will set out the vision for “Tech Nation 2.0” during a breakfast session at Birmingham Tech Week.

Now operating as part of Founders Forum Group, it will carry over four of its predecessor’s startup growth programmes.

As previously reported by UKTN, they are Libra, a programme for ethnic minority founders; Rising Stars, a competition for early-stage startups; The Climate Programme, an initiative for climate tech companies; and Future Fifty, a programme for late-stage businesses.

Founders Forum Group co-founder and chair Brent Hoberman said the relaunched organisation will “act as a lightning rod to support the UK’s most exciting businesses and founders”.

Tech Nation will continue to be the endorsing body for digital technology applications under the Global Talent visa.

It remains in discussions with the Home Office over the long-term future of the scheme. Since Tech Nation closed, a small team has continued to process applications for the service, which is popular among international tech workers.

Championing founders

The new Tech Nation will plan to work with the government as an “independent voice for founders”.

“Our mission is to build a world in which all tech entrepreneurs have access to the knowledge and communities they need to succeed,” said Dawson.

“Tech Nation 2.0 will champion all kinds of tech founders, highlighting their needs and fighting for our incredible industry from seed stage to success story.”

UKTN understands that Founders Forum is exploring a model in which corporates sponsor Tech Nation programmes in return for access and connections with cohort members.

The relaunched Tech Nation will be a leaner operation than its predecessor. It currently has eight full-time staff members, with a further half dozen straddling operations with Founders Forum while it scales up.

In its previous form, Tech Nation employed more than 50 people. Gerard Grech, founding CEO of Tech Nation, holds an advisory board role at the new Tech Nation.

‘Tech Nation can play a huge role’

Michelle Donelan, the secretary of state for science, technology and innovation, said: “The UK is an unrivalled hub for the very best in technology startups. Tech Nation can play a huge role in helping those businesses grow, as we cement the UK’s status as a science and tech super power by 2030.”

In addition to running its cohort-based programmes, Tech Nation will produce reports on the UK’s tech ecosystem via a research and insights division.

Founders Forum – which connects founders, investors, corporations and governments around the world – is a partner of Informa Tech for London Tech Week.

Yiannis Maos, founder and CEO at TechWM, said: “Tech Nation has always been an integral part of the UK tech ecosystem, and having previously sat on the Tech Nation Visa Board, I’ve seen first-hand the impact the organisation has had on the tech sector. That’s why I’m absolutely delighted that Tech Nation has chosen Birmingham Tech Week to officially relaunch.”

He added: “The organisation has already supported a number of our region’s scaleups including Nourished, Conigital and Goldilock and I know that this support will now continue and support us on our mission to become a world-class tech hub.”

The previous Tech Nation provided support to more than 1,000 companies over the past decade. Among them are companies that have gone on to achieve $1bn unicorn valuations, including Darktrace, Monzo, Wise and Revolut.

An evaluation of the efficacy of funding granted to Tech Nation during its final three years, conducted by consultancy firm Frontier Economics on behalf of the government, found the organisation’s growth programmes provided a greater economic impact than their public funding cost.

UKTN understands that Tech Nation has held preliminary talks with Barclays Eagle Labs and sees the bank’s startup growth division as a collaborator rather than a rival.

Read more: Barclays Eagle Labs: We’re not the ‘bogeyman’ – we’re ready to support UK tech