Start-up quango Tech Nation has confirmed the sale of its brand to Brent Hoberman’s Founders Forum today for an unknown fee.
The start-up network, which was launched in 2011 under David Cameron’s coalition government, announced in January that it would shut its doors after ministers controversially pulled its funding and handed it to high street lender Barclays.
Tech Nation declined to say how much it was selling its brand for.
On Tuesday, Founders Forum (FF), which is a global group for businesses supporting entrepreneurs set up by Lastminute.com founder and serial entrepreneur Brent Hoberman, announced it formally acquired it.
Under the agreement, Tech Nation will operate under FF’s banner to support tech founders, while FF will relaunch a number of Tech Nation programmes, and has been called the “ideal custodian”.
Amid tech leaders sounded the alarm over the future of Tech Nation’s lauded visa programme, it was revealed in the agreement that under the FF Group umbrella, it will continue to process the Global Talent Visa for the Home Office – while the government looks for a new body to take over. It is not clear how long this process will take.
Tech Nation’s outgoing founding CEO, Gerard Grech and board director Sarah Wood will remain on FF Tech Nation Advisory Board, to help steer the transition.
This comes after Tech Nation helped shape the UK tech sector in the last decade, as it became the number one digital economy in Europe and third in the world, valued at more than $1tn, an increase of 16 times in 10 years.
The deal brings to an end a controversial episode which has drawn the ire of many tech figures. Programmes run by Tech Nation, which have been a starting point for around a third of so-called tech unicorns created in the UK – firms worth more than $1bn.
Founding CEO of Tech Nation Gerard Grech said: “Founders Forum Group is the ideal custodian to lead Tech Nation into its next chapter.
“I am confident FF Group will continue the vital work of Tech Nation, leveraging its influential network to evolve Tech Nation’s existing programmes, foster entrepreneurship nationwide, and supercharge scaleups and high-growth businesses across the UK.
“It’s been a privilege to have worked with so many fantastic people during Tech Nation’s journey to date, and I want to thank the Tech Nation team for all their hard work in making it happen with the ecosystem.”
Carolyn Dawson, FF’s CEO, said the organisation was “delighted to be carrying the Tech Nation brand forward and building on the remarkable decade of growth which has resulted in the UK now being third in the world for tech investment.”
Hoberman, FF’s co-founder and chair, added that “Tech Nation has positioned the UK as a world-class innovation hub. We’re honoured to be inheriting this important mission and marrying our objectives with those of Tech Nation to preserve and expand the UK tech ecosystem.”
UK minister for tech and the digital economy, Paul Scully, said: “Startups are at the heart of what makes the UK’s tech sector a success – creating opportunities, innovation, and growth across the UK.
“We have invested millions over the years to help early-stage and scaling tech businesses go from strength to strength. Founders Forum Group will build on this by continuing the work of Tech Nation, which will complement our ongoing support for the sector.”