Start-up network Tech Nation is to be wound down after the government controversially withdrew its funding and handed it to Barclays, the organisation announced today.
Tech Nation, founded by the coalition government in 2010, said it would cease operations from the end of March after the Department for Culture Media and Sport confirmed it had withdrawn its government grant earlier this month.
Bosses at the tech body said they were now exploring a sale of its assets and were inviting discussions from interested parties. Permanent staff at the organisation are to be entered into a redundancy consultation process beginning today, Tech Nation said.
Tech chiefs have slammed the move to grant Barclays the contract since it was first reported at the end of last year. The decision will offer one of Britain’s biggest traditional lenders huge sway over the fintech and tech ecosystems.
In statements today, tech chiefs hailed the success of the group and said it had been integral to growing the UK’s tech success.
“Having Tech Nation lead the national connectivity chapter of the Kalifa FinTech Review was hugely impactful as it brought together several different constituents, from founders to academics and from investors to ecosystem regional leaders,” said Ron Kalifa, author of the Kalifa Review of UK FinTech for HM Treasury and former CEO of Worldpay. “One of its recommendations led to the creation of the new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology, seed funded by HM Treasury.”
Russ Shaw CBE, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates said it had played “an integral role in developing the UK’s tech industry”. Stephen Kelly, the former Sage boss and Tech Nation chair, said the group was a “masterclass and finishing school for UK scaleup founders” and “the envy of governments around the world”.
“We have helped champion and support innovators in everything from AI to FinTech to Climate tech and more,” said Tech Nation chief executive Gerard Grech. “In doing so, we have helped spread digital growth and jobs nation-wide. For every pound invested in Tech Nation, we have returned £15. “
More than £28bn has been raised by alumni of the group’s accelerator programmes, which include the likes of Monzo, Deliveroo and Darktrace.
Questions now hang over the future of the visa programme run by Tech Nation on behalf of the Home Office, which connected international tech talent with fast growth firms in the UK.
Tech Nation has processed over 6000 Global Talent Visa applications since its inception and endorsed more than 3000.
A Home Office spokesperson told City A.M. the future governance of the programme had yet to be decided.
“We are working closely with Tech Nation to ensure continuity of the digitech strand of the Global Talent visa in the short term, whilst we explore the long term changes necessary in light of Tech Nation’s planned closure,” the spokesperson said.
“We will also take every available step to ensure that applicants already part of the Global Talent route are not disadvantaged by the closure, so the UK can continue to benefit from the brightest and best living and working here.”