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Tech Nation timeline: From Silicon Roundabout to a $1tn ecosystem

Tech Nation timeline Image credit Tech Nation

After more than a decade of supporting the UK’s startups and scaleups, Tech Nation closes its doors today.

Back in 2010, when the seed for the idea that would become Tech Nation first emerged during a government trade mission to India, the UK’s tech ecosystem was very different.

From Deliveroo to Revolut, household UK tech names did not yet exist. The tech ecosystem was largely concentrated around East London’s Silicon Roundabout. In 2013, the UK tech ecosystem was valued at $60bn.

Today, the UK tech ecosystem has expanded across the country and has surpassed a $1tn valuation, behind only the US and China.

Tech Nation, through its various iterations, has played a key role in supporting startups as they have scaled up, some into global players.

Among them are Multiverse, what3words, Depop, Tide, Atom Bank, BenevolentAI,  Monzo, Revolut, Checkout.com, Darktrace, Carwow, Gousto and Deliveroo.

But in January 2023, Tech Nation announced it would cease operations on 31 March after its bid for £12m government funding was unsuccessful. The mantle will now be picked up by Barclays Eagle Labs, which secured the Digital Growth Grant.

UKTN has created a brief timeline of Tech Nation plotting its history and influence on the UK technology scene.

Tech Nation timeline

– March 2023: Entrepreneur network Founders Forum Group confirms it is in talks to acquire Tech Nation’s brand.

– Tech Nation reveals the final winners of its Rising Stars startup competition.

– Tech Nation publishes its final report, stating the UK tech ecosystem could be worth as much as $4tn by 2032, and holds its final report event.

 Barclays Eagle Labs and Tech Nation fail to reach an agreement over Tech Nation staff.

February 2023: The growth network begins talks with over 30 organisations interested in buying up its intellectual property.

January 2023: Barclays Eagle Labs is officially awarded £12.09m funding from the government. Weeks later, Tech Nation says it will shut down.

September 2022: Reports surface that Tech Nation has lost its government funding to Barclays Eagle Labs.

April 2022: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) opens up Tech Nation’s primary funding source to applications from other organisations.

– 2021: Tech Nation launches Advance Learning programmes.

– 2020: Launch of Net Zero and LawtechUK programmes.

– 2019: Start of Applied AI, Cyber programmes and Entrepreneur Engagement Network.

– 2018: Tech Nation’s inaugural fintech programme launches.

– 2017: The prime minister and chancellor rebrand Tech City UK and Tech North into Tech Nation. A further £21m in funding for Tech Nation is made available.

– 2016: Tech City’s Upscale, Northern Stars and Founders’ Network begin.

– 2015: Tech City UK unveils its Tech Nation Visa Scheme and publishes the first of its annual reports on the UK tech industry.

– 2014: A team focusing on the North of England called Tech North is created.

– 2013: Tech City begins working with the Home Office to attract tech talent to the UK with entrepreneurs-focused visas. The project gets £15.5m with £12.5m dedicated for research and development.

– The first Future Fifty programme opens up for applications. Winners include Zoopla Property Group, Skyscanner, Made.com, Just Eat and Zopa.

– Software company Pivotal opens an office with 75 employees at Old Street and plans to invest £100m in Tech City. Samsung announces a new Innovation Centre in London.

– December 2012: The government invests £50m into the regeneration of Old Street roundabout, otherwise known as “Silicon Roundabout”.

– April 2011: Prime minister David Cameron spins Tech City Investment Organisation out of UK Trade & Investment to help the East London tech cluster, at a time when TweetDeck was acquired by Twitter for £25m.