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UK’s Tech Nation to shut down operations after losing government funding

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Tech Nation, the startup backed by the UK government to bring thousands of talented tech workers to the UK, has announced that it will shut down its operations at the end of March.

The startup, which gets most of its funding from the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has been supporting UK’s tech ecosystem for the past 10 years. The startup will now be pulling the plug on its activities, after the funds it depends on has been directed towards another program run by British commercial bank, Barclays Bank.

It was reported last year that the UK Government was planning to redirect funding meant for Tech Nation to Barclays’ Eagle Labs programme. This news has now been confirmed.

In defence of the DCMS, a spokesperson said the DCMS has been supporting Tech Nation since 2017 to accelerate the growth of startups and scaleups across the UK.

“Our decision to make the Digital Growth Grant competitive brings the funding into line with the majority of government grants. Barclays Eagle Labs was successful because their application represented the best value for taxpayers’ money, will benefit the most startups and scale-ups over the next two years, and was scored highest by an independent panel,” the spokesperson said.

Tech Nation said its staff will undergo a redundancy process, with hopes that some roles directly involved in the contract will be transferred to Barclays. The startup admitted that it is currently in talks with Barclays Bank to achieve this.

Commenting on the loss of funding, Tech Nation admitted that its remaining activities are not viable on a standalone basis. Chief Executive, Gerard Getch, said as a result of this development, the startup has started making moves, and is “actively seeking interested parties to acquire its portfolio of assets to take forward in a new guise. We have exhaustively explored whether Tech Nation could continue without core government grant funding, but have concluded after extensive consultation that this is not an option.”

Getch further said:

“We have a portfolio of Tech Nation assets and an internationally acclaimed brand, and we have already started discussions with mission-based organisations to take these forward. We are inviting Expressions of Interest from interested parties.”

Tech Nation was founded in 2011 by former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron. The startup was formerly known as East London Tech City, and was focused on London tech community. This was on till 2018, when the startup merged with Manchester based Tech North to cover more areas in the UK. Tech Nation claims its efforts has gone a long way in making the UK a leading nation in the digital economy sector of Europe.

Tech Nation claims that more than one-third of the unicorn companies in the UK have passed through its accelerator programs, with 95% of the companies that went through its program going ahead to scale. The startup, through its Chief Executive also said that for every pound that the startup spends, it makes a £15 return.

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