Tech Nation to cease operations, following DCMS contract end

Following a decade serving as the UK government-backed tech ecosystem for scale-ups, Tech Nation's contract will end on the 31st March

Following termination of its core government grant funding, and the recent announcement that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Digital Growth Fund will be allocated to Barclays Eagle Labs, Tech Nation will seek to transfer its assets.

With a new funding outlet for national tech innovation in place, Tech Nation’s operations have been deemed unviable on a standalone basis.

As a non-profit organisation, continued support for UK tech companies, including its growth schemes, would no longer be fully possible without the governmental funding in place.

A gradual wind-down of operations and commencement of a redundancy consultation process has been set in motion, with Tech Nation also actively seeking interested parties to acquire its portfolio of assets to take forward in a new guise.

The body is calling for Expressions of Interest from parties that wish to take on Tech Nation’s assets, with the 14th February 2023 as the deadline.

“Tech Nation is a purpose-led organisation, with a mission to serve the UK’s tech ecosystem. By delivering services and insights impartially across Britain, Tech Nation has made a huge and positive impact on the UK’s digital economy. The UK now boasts over 20 places with one tech unicorn or more, five times what it was in 2014,” said Gerard Grech, founder and CEO of Tech Nation.

“We have helped champion and support innovators in everything from AI to FinTech to Climate tech and more. In doing so, we have helped spread digital growth and jobs nation-wide. For every pound invested in Tech Nation, we have returned £15.

“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. 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.”

Stephen Kelly, chair at Tech Nation, commented: “Having been at the controls in the cockpit growing startups and scaleups to multi-billion dollar, global market leaders from both Silicon Valley and the UK, I have personally witnessed the power of Tech Nation’s impact and community in shaping this golden decade for UK Tech.

“Tech Nation has become the masterclass and finishing school for UK scaleup founders to build future global market leaders and is the envy of governments around the world.”

Russ Shaw CBE, founder of Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates, added: “Since its creation in 2010, Tech Nation has played an integral role in developing the UK’s tech industry, helping it mature into one of the preeminent tech economies globally. Some of Britain’s most exciting and innovative companies have received vital help and support from Tech Nation, and it has been an important champion of diversity and inclusion.

“The UK tech ecosystem has today lost an important member of its community.”

A decade of accelerated growth

Founded in 2010 by the coalition government and tasked with the goal of accelerating the growth of UK tech start-ups and scale-ups, Tech Nation undertook extensive research into the national tech sector, documenting trends and investments.

The organisation oversaw an array of growth and sandbox programmes, including the Upscale scheme, Tech Nation Net Zero, and its LawtechUK Sandbox — the latter of which is planned to continue beyond the contract termination.

“The LawtechUK team and I are immensely proud of all that we have achieved as LawtechUK, which was started in and incubated by Tech Nation,” said Alex Lennox, director of LawtechUK.

“LawtechUK will continue and has an exciting future ahead with a further £3m in government funding secured by the LawtechUK team, and much more work to be done to continue to support the digital transformation of the UK legal sector.”

Tech Nation’s various activities have aided the UK tech sector’s 16x growth in 10 years to a value of $1tn — only the third national tech industry to achieve such a feat — employing 5 million people (from 2m in the decade) across the country.

Although 80 per cent of start-ups end up failing within their first 2-5 years, over 95 per cent of start-ups on Tech Nation’s accelerator programs have gone on to scale, with scheme alumni including Darktrace, Just Eat, Monzo, Ocado and Revolut.


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.