January 2022: a month in review with Tech Nation CEO

Gerard Grech, February 3, 2022 5 min read

I hope that since my last update – which was 2021 in review (a record-breaking year for Tech Nation)  – you have had a productive start to the New Year. Here at Tech Nation – and throughout the wider tech sector – 2022 has truly started with a bang!

To name just a few of the highlights so far, Tech Nation’s Upscale growth programme (for fast-scaling mid-stage tech scaleups) was named the UK’s most active accelerator by Sifted, AI self-driving car company Wayve became the UK’s first tech ‘unicorn’ of 2022, and the UK government launched the Help to Grow scheme to support and accelerate scaling tech businesses across the UK.

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At Tech Nation, we began the year by gathering some exciting New Year’s Resolutions from the UK’s brightest and best tech scaleups (read their full resolutions here), which ranged from “expanding internationally” and “using time more wisely” to “increasing focus on climate impact” and “helping everyone feel even more connected to their colleagues, the company and its values.” We’re excited to help these companies achieve their goals in 2022, and to continue helping UK tech go from strength to strength.

For example, a few weeks ago, CityAM covered my views on the importance of pension funds backing UK tech businesses, which I will continue to stand for this year. And, as was made clear in Business Leader’s Future Tech Trends panel last week, which our comms officer Emma Thompson spoke on, ESG is going to be extremely important for the whole tech sector this year, as tech leaders continue to realise the huge importance of building businesses that are diverse, values-based and kind to our planet.

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As Tech Nation continues to expand its portfolio of offerings focused on scaling leaders in fast growth companies, our highly anticipated Advance 3.0 training course for tech scaleups kicked off at the end of January, and will continue to run throughout this month, with a range of world-class speakers, entrepreneurs and scaling experts walking our latest applicants through how to overcome common scaling challenges. You can sign up and find out more about our upcoming Advance courses here.

Introducing the Emerging Energy Tech Report

In January, we partnered with Harwell Campus to create the Emerging Energy Tech Report; a look at global VC investment into energy tech companies in the UK and around the world.

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Excitingly, the report revealed that VC investment into UK energy tech companies has reached new highs ($1.5 billion in 2021, a 36% increase on the funds raised in 2020)!

On the other hand, the report also found that it is 200% harder for energy tech startups to transition to late growth than tech startups in other sectors, and as a result, nearly half (47.6%) of UK energy tech companies are still at seed stage.

As a result, the report outlines strategies to accelerate the growth and maturation of the sector – which you can read in the full report here – in order to help us reach the UK’s extremely important goal of Net Zero by 2050.

This year’s brightest and best tech startups soon to be revealed in our Rising Stars competition

Our Rising Stars 4.0 competition is the UK’s most exciting competition for innovative, early-stage tech companies from all regions of the UK. We announced the 55 Regional Winners back in December, and this month we had our Rising Stars semi-finals, which has given our judges the tough challenge of whittling down these bright and ambitious companies to just 20 incredible finalists – whose names I’ll be able to share with you soon!

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Excitingly, Rising Stars 4.0 has also recently partnered with multinational law firm Pinsent Masons, who will run two sessions focusing on investor readiness, open to all current Rising Stars applicants.

Lawtech continues to disrupt and transform 

Last week, the Lawtech Sandbox Showcase, sponsored by Deloitte Legal, gave us all a chance to be among the first to hear about cutting-edge lawtech developments that will propel the sector’s continued growth in 2022 and beyond. The event was attended by over 250 people from 36 countries around the world.

At the event, Justice Minister Lord Wolfson QC talked about how his vision for the law is one where everybody can access it digitally. He urged all those attending to get involved in the work of LawtechUK and recommended the LawtechUK Hub as an invaluable resource.

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We also heard from leading in-house lawyers, investors and regulatory experts about their learnings from the Sandbox and their key takeaways for the future of the market, as well as hearing directly from our eight Sandbox pioneers about the lessons they have learnt and their plans for the future. We’ll be continuing to champion them and the work they are doing to disrupt and transform the legal sector this year.

UK fintech partnerships goes from strength to strength

This month, our Fintech Delivery Panel hosted the Fintech Partnerships Summit with EY, which brought together representatives from all across the UK fintech ecosystem together to discuss all things partnerships.

The event featured perspectives from banks, insurers, fintech, investors, industry bodies and more. The summit provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the success of the FDP’s Fintech Pledge (an initiative launched in September 2020, which sets globally leading standards for the establishment of partnerships between the UK’s largest financial institutions and fintech firms), share key learnings of successful fintech partnerships to date, and explore what is needed to overcome barriers to collaboration between financial institutions and fintech.

UK tech on the global stage

In the world of international, our Head of Asia Pacific, Max Pourrat, moderated the Plug and Play SEA Innovation Showcase, where 11 UK scaleups on our International Growth Programme 2.0 pitched for partnership opportunities with corporates, start-ups and investors in Southeast Asia.

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Our Head of International, Sam Evans, spoke on her first panel to an Indonesian audience about expected tech trends of 2022, and Sam Deave spoke at the UK Department for International Trade’s first UK-Singapore Innovation Partnership event, showcasing UK tech to large Singaporean multinationals.

Finally, we launched our first US Expansion Advance course for UK tech scaleups looking for help with their entry, sales or fundraising in the US market  – you can register your interest here!

A great year ahead for Tech Nation – and UK tech

We’ve got some very exciting things in the works for 2022, and with restrictions beginning to relax across the UK, we look forward to organising a variety of vibrant in-person events and regional visits around the country.

I’ll be sure to fill you in on February’s exciting moments (many of which I can’t reveal quite yet!) in my next update. Stay tuned to find out more!

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