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Tech Nation to ‘cease operations’ after losing government funding to Barclays

tech nation closing

Tech Nation will “cease operations” from 31 March after losing out on £12m in government funding to Barclays, bringing an end to more than a decade of support for the UK’s technology startups.

Tech Nation, which was first launched in 2011 and created in its current form in 2018 by the merger of Tech City UK and Tech North, said it was shutting down as a “direct result” of losing the government grant.

In a statement, Tech Nation said it will be halting all operations through a “carefully planned wind-down” and has commenced a redundancy consultation.

It is looking for interested parties to acquire Tech Nation assets.

Earlier this month the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport formally awarded the Digital Growth Grant to Barclays Eagle Labs, the startup incubator division of the FTSE 100 bank.

It followed a public tender process for the DCMS funding, worth £12.09m over two years.

Startup backlash

Reports in September 2022 that Tech Nation was set to lose out to Barclays were met with backlash from the UK’s tech startup community. An open letter signed by more than 140 tech stakeholders called for government-backed support to be “grounded in the startup ecosystem” and “not looking to ride on its coattails”.

Through its growth programmes, Tech Nation has supported companies that have gone on to become household names, including Monzo, Deliveroo and Skyscanner.

“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,” said Gerard Grech, founding CEO, Tech Nation.

“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.”

Tech Nation funding void

Approximately 75% of Tech Nation’s revenue came from government grants, with the DCMS funding comprising a significant portion of that.

In 2021 it received DCMS funding of £7.1m, while £934,361 came from the Ministry of Justice and another £723,754 from the Department for International Trade.

Grech previously told UKTN that the remaining 25% came from commercial revenues such as sponsorships of its growth programmes.

Tech Nation had previously insisted that it would be able to make up the funding shortfall by increasing commercial revenues.

“Tech Nation has played a vital role in the success of thousands of UK tech businesses, and has achieved real economic impact and return on investment for the taxpayer,” said Eileen Burbidge MBE, HM Treasury special fintech envoy and co-founder of Passion Capital.

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