"Tech Nation represented a new era for tech" - so what's next for the sector? - Business Leader News

“Tech Nation represented a new era for tech” – so what’s next for the sector?

Following the withdrawal of a £12 million government grant, Tech Nation is set to cease running at the end of next month.

Tech Nation was initially launched in 2011 with the objective of helping UK startups secure investment and attract top talent into the sector. The organisation has helped 5000 technology companies accelerate growth, including many of Britain’s most successful tech companies, from Monzo and Deliveroo to Skyscanner and Darktrace.

After losing its vital government contract to Barclays, Tech Nation will be forced to shut down operations at the end of March 2023 and with it, crucial support for thousands of startups and scale-ups.

What’s next for the tech sector?

Claire Trachet (CEO/Founder) comments on the collapse and the future of scaleups and their funding: “The decision to fund Barclay’s Digital Eagles over Tech Nation comes as a big blow for the sector, even though it was not a government organisation, its existence relied on government support.

“Although the Digital Eagle Labs serve a similar purpose, Tech Nation represented a new era for tech, away from institutional finance which many of these startups can’t rely on. As a crucial player in providing British tech startups with the guidance necessary to successfully scale, it is important to ensure new programs with a similar impact come to the fore.

“As the economy attempts to recover from inflationary pressures and high-interest rates, the need for the UK to attract global investment to its tech sector should remain a priority. It’s important for founders and executives in the tech sector to adapt to the new funding environment, what their goals are, and how they will achieve them.

“It’s very easy to get swept up in receiving funding and wanting to increase headcounts – this won’t cut it anymore. Focusing on profitability and product over growth should be at the forefront of every founder’s agenda in 2023 in order to secure their next round or a favorable exit.”

Ekaterina Almasque, General Partner at OpenOcean, said: “This is a difficult day for the UK tech industry. Tech Nation was founded to spearhead the UK’s digital industry during its “Silicon Roundabout” heyday. So, it’s a troubling sign of the times that this body, which has overseen growth programmes for start-ups, digital academies, and international expansion efforts, has been forced to close its doors.

“The loss of Tech Nation will deny current and future entrepreneurs an important network for the UK tech industry. Building these connections are so crucial for start-ups in their earliest days of growth. It can help a firm secure funding, find talented employees, or simply share ideas with peers in the industry.

“If the UK government wishes to turn the UK into a new Silicon Valley, the industry needs grassroots support. Deep tech firms in fields like quantum technology, for example, have timelines measured in decades and rely on targeted incentives and funding from the government to ensure continued progress is made. Many countries around the world are making these efforts to back their tech economy. The UK must do the same if it is to avoid falling behind its peers.

“Simply branding plans with ‘Silicon’ is not sufficient. We must ensure that we put in place the correct processes to bring talented founders with innovative software ideas all the way from ideas on a whiteboard to stock listings in Piccadilly Square.”

Yoko Spirig, Co-founder and CEO of Ledgy commented: “For entrepreneurs across Europe, the UK has always stood out as a positive example of a progressive tech hub that champions innovation and balanced risk-taking.

“Looking over at the UK from Switzerland, my co-founders and I were inspired by Tech Nation and the work it did championing startups and knitting together the many different parts of the UK tech scene. Organisations like Tech Nation helped us decide that the UK was a strategic next step for us which led to Ledgy officially opening a London office last year.

“We are very disappointed to learn that Tech Nation will be shutting down, especially during a difficult time in the sector which has seen investment drop off, valuations fall and widespread layoffs. It’s essential that the organisation which carries this work forward continues to take advantage of the incredible research that happens in British universities and produce exceptional tech companies to ensure the UK stays out in front as a positive example for other European markets.”