Doubt is cast on the future of Tech Nation as the organisation is now “working around the clock” to remedy its funding shortfall.
In a heavily-rumoured move, the UK’s tech growth platform Tech Nation will lose its government grant funding from April 2023.
The £12.09m Digital Growth Grant will instead go to banking giant Barclays, which plans to increase its existing “Eagle Labs” scheme of business support and mentoring to reach 22,000 startups over the next two years.
“Barclays Eagle Labs are digital industry experts and will help tens of thousands of tech firms and founders to achieve their dreams and create jobs and economic growth,” said Paul Scully MP, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, on Friday announcing the decision.
“We want to unlock the potential of the next generation of start-ups and scale-ups and boost tech businesses in all corners of the country.
Deciding to award the grant to Barclays was due to the bank’s agreement that it would absorb “all operational and people costs”, resulting in the entire £12m being utilised for delivering the programme of activity.
However, the decision isn’t without controversy.
Tech Nation, which was formed by the merger of Tech City UK and Tech North and has existed in different shapes and forms since 2011, has relied predominantly on this government funding.
The organisation is well-regarded by the fintech community, having supported some of the UK’s most successful fintechs over the years, including Revolut, Monzo, PrimaryBid, Funding Circle, and Credit Kudos.
With the government’s decision to instead award its funding to Barclays, the future of Tech Nation is now in doubt.
Tech Nation on Friday said it had been “working around the clock to secure our future and continue delivering for UK scaleups.”
“It is essential that any route forward for Tech Nation ensures we are able to continue to act in the best interest of the tech community and put the needs of scaleups front and centre.”
“This is the principle that has always guided us, and will guide our decision-making over the next steps we take from here.”
The organisation will continue to receive funding to administer the Home Office’s digital visa scheme.