Founders Forum Group acquires Tech Nation
3 min read
After a decade as a government-backed organisation serving the UK scaleup tech ecosystem, we are today announcing that Tech Nation will be closing its doors from 31st March 2023. Tech Nation’s core grant funding from DCMS is being awarded to Barclays Bank. With this foundation removed, Tech Nation’s remaining activities are not viable on a standalone basis.
As a direct result of the DCMS grant withdrawal, Tech Nation will be ceasing all existing operations through a carefully planned wind-down and has commenced a redundancy consultation process. Tech Nation is also actively seeking interested parties to acquire its portfolio of assets to take forward in a new guise.
When Tech Nation was founded by the coalition government, the UK’s tech economy was burgeoning. Tech Nation’s growth programs, digital academy, networking conferences, international expansion programs, sandboxes, panels and in-depth sector research, analysis and reports have helped shape the trajectory and success of UK tech; the no.1 digital economy in Europe and no.3 globally, valued at $1trn (16x in 10 years), employing 5m people (from 2m in the decade) across the country, with over 20 places in the UK home to one tech unicorn or more (5x in 10 years).
Within the UK tech ecosystem, Tech Nation has been laser-focussed on accelerating scaleup growth. Scaleups create over 90% of all UK tech jobs and are what drive investment, productivity improvements, export and regional success. The market for startup support has matured, however there continues to be no single organisation which focuses on tech scaleups as Tech Nation does. And we’re proud that the scaleups Tech Nation has supported over the decade have disproportionately thrived.
While 80% of startups fail within their first 2-5 years, over 95% of startups on Tech Nation’s accelerator programs have gone on to scale. More than a third of all tech unicorns and decacorns created in the UK have graduated from a Tech Nation program, collectively raising over £28bn so far in venture capital and capital markets. Our alumni includes the biggest names in UK tech – Monzo, Revolut, Depop, Bloom & Wild, Zilch, Just Eat, Darktrace, Marshmallow, Ocado, Skyscanner, Peak AI and Deliveroo, to name just a few of the 5,000+ businesses we’ve supported.
As a government-backed national asset, Tech Nation has delivered one of the best ROIs for the taxpayer, delivering £15 return on every £1 funded by the UK Government.
Tech Nation will cease operations on 31st March 2023, when our DCMS contract concludes.
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.
Firstly, because it is not viable for critical mass and impact. The work we do with our accelerator programs, insights and research reports, the Growth Platform, visa processing for the Home Office, and so much more, has all been built on the foundation of our core grant funding from DCMS. With this foundation removed, Tech Nation’s remaining activities are not viable on a standalone basis and the unique Tech Nation model that we have built upon this foundation can no longer be supported.
Furthermore, continuing without core funding would compromise our status as a Public Interest company. We are a non-profit, with an obligation to act in the best interest of the public and the scaleup community we serve. We cannot continue to deliver for scaleups impactfully and impartially without core public funding underpinning everything we do, and with commercial funding alone.
We are regretfully commencing a redundancy consultation process as of today for all of our permanent employees. For those whose primary role is DCMS delivery work, we initiated TUPE discussions with Barclays Bank and have informed DCMS.
Our DCMS contract concludes on 31st March, and thereafter all current activities will be wound up. The Home Office has been notified of Tech Nation’s plans to cease operations and our visa programme will continue in the immediate term.
Meanwhile, 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 for the next decade. We are inviting Expressions of Interest from interested parties. The deadline for EOIs is 14th February 2023, and they can be submitted to: email@example.com.
Tech Nation ends this impactful chapter with pride in everything it has accomplished, in awe of the incredible individuals and businesses we have been privileged to champion, and in gratitude to everyone who has been part of our journey.
We want to thank the thousands of tech founders who have participated in our programs, training, events and research over the years; in particular for how they approached their involvement with candidacy, commitment and collaboration, which has been the foundation of the strength of the Tech Nation network.
We thank our partners and sponsors who have contributed invaluable expertise and resources, to bolster our grant-funded activity and help build connections between scaleups and corporates.
A huge thank you to the thousands of individuals who have participated as judges, coaches, trainers, advisers and thought leaders for our alumni companies. This group includes the names of very best, most respected people in UK tech, who have generously given back to the sector and supported the success of the next generation of scaleups through working with us.
Thank you to the government for the vision to build the first phase of the UK tech growth revolution and for backing us for the last decade, fuelling the creation of a connected UK-wide ecosystem of high-growth, high-potential tech scaleups, creating jobs and prosperity across the UK. And thank you to the tech and scaleup ecosystem partners, regional players and industry bodies who we have worked alongside to fuel UK tech’s strength and resilience.
Most of all, we want to thank our people, our Technationers, past and present, who have served the tech ecosystem with such commitment, enthusiasm and talent. The success we have achieved for UK tech is thanks to you all. We hope that the incredible growth, progress and momentum we have driven over the past decade at the nexus of the UK scaleup ecosystem can be maintained and capitalised on.
The Government has announced ambitions to be a Science and Technology Superpower. It hopes to take on Silicon Valley, and to become the most innovative country in the world. But for the first time in decades, macroeconomic trends threaten Britain’s tech momentum.
It is vital that Government rhetoric is now paired with policies and support mechanisms to match.
Now is the moment for the UK Government to set a clear vision with coherent plans for the next decade of tech scaleup growth and success, where the UK can race away from European countries even further and truly compete with Silicon Valley’s finest.
Gerard Grech, Founding CEO, Tech Nation: “Tech Nation is a purpose-led organisation, with a mission to serve the UK’s tech ecosystem. By delivering services and insights impartially across Britain, Tech Nation has made a huge and positive impact on the UK’s digital economy. The UK now boasts over 20 places with one tech unicorn or more, five times what it was in 2014.
“Many of Britain’s most successful tech companies, from Monzo to Deliveroo, and from Skyscanner to Darktrace, have passed through one or more of Tech Nation’s growth programs. We have helped champion and support innovators in everything from AI to FinTech to Climate tech and more. In doing so, we have helped spread digital growth and jobs nation-wide. For every pound invested in Tech Nation, we have returned £15.
“I want to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Tech Nation team, to our ecosystem partners and all the inspirational innovators and entrepreneurs we have worked with along the way. I am grateful to the government’s support over nine years, and feel proud of all we achieved. It has been an incredible journey. Together we have made the UK tech economy a global powerhouse for tech talent and now third in the world for tech investment, after the US and China.”
Stephen Kelly, Chair, Tech Nation: “Having been at the controls in the cockpit growing startups and scaleups to multi-billion dollar, global market leaders from both Silicon Valley and the UK, I have personally witnessed the power of Tech Nation’s impact and community in shaping this golden decade for UK Tech. Tech Nation has become the masterclass and finishing school for UK scaleup founders to build future global market leaders and is the envy of governments around the world”.
Eileen Burbidge MBE, HM Treasury Special Fintech Envoy; Co-Founder, Passion Capital: “It was a privilege to have served as Tech Nation’s Chair for almost five years. During my tenure and since, Tech Nation has grown to become a truly impactful, UK-wide network, impactfully and impartially supporting scaleups across the breadth of the country. Tech Nation has played a vital role in the success of thousands of UK tech businesses, and has achieved real economic impact and return on investment for the taxpayer”.
Brent Hoberman, Co-Founder & Chairman, Founders Forum Group, firstminute capital and Founders Factory: “Our UK businesses have long admired the work and dedication of the tech nation team. They successfully led a transition from the Tech City campaign to an impactful and broader Tech Nation suite of services and events for founders. They built trust and respect in the UK tech community for their commitment to scaling up the best UK Founders and inspiring others to join the journey.”
Martha Lane Fox CBE, President of the British Chambers of Commerce: “As an entrepreneur and digital champion, I’ve witnessed first-hand the impact that Tech Nation has had in creating one of the most exciting and dynamic parts of our economy. The skills they’ve equipped entrepreneurs with and opportunities they’ve created have been second to none. They will be missed.”
Sir Ron Kalifa, Author of the Kalifa Review of UK FinTech for HM Treasury and former CEO of Worldpay: “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. One of its recommendations led to the creation of the new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology, seed funded by HM Treasury.”
Joanna Shields, CEO, BenevolentAI: “It was a privilege to serve as chair of Tech City UK before it became Tech Nation, and we at BenevolentAI have greatly valued our partnership in the years since. Whilst it is sad to see the end of this impactful chapter, I am proud of the great contribution Tech Nation has made in spreading digital growth and in supporting our vibrant community of scaleups in their journeys to build businesses which are shaping the trajectory and success of technological innovation across the UK.”
Russ Shaw CBE, Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates: “Since its creation in 2010, Tech Nation has played an integral role in developing the UK’s tech industry, helping it mature into one of the preeminent tech economies globally. Some of Britain’s most exciting and innovative companies have received vital help and support from Tech Nation, and it has been an important champion of diversity and inclusion. The UK tech ecosystem has today lost an important member of its community.”
Tom Adeyoola, Co-Founder of Capital Angel Network and Metail: “Tech Nation’s Libra programme was established to help drive for Black and multiracial founders the virtuous cycle of visibility, connections, and success that we have seen in the rest of the startup ecosystem. Having had the honour of taking part in the judging for the Libra programme, it is clear that there is a healthy and competitive pipeline of Black and multiracial founders that just need fair access to financial and social capital to succeed. I have also been an advisor and a judge for Tech Nation’s Net Zero programme, for fast-growth tech companies which help the UK reduce emissions. It is saddening and a real loss for the UK, that Tech Nation and these important programmes will no longer be continuing”.
Janet Coyle CBE, Managing Director Business at London & Partners: “Tech Nation has played a key role in our scale up ecosystem over the past decade. From the early years as Tech City when the focus was on Shoreditch to the growth of a UK wide tech ecosystem, Tech Nation has helped to amplify the UK’s strengths in tech on a global stage. We would like to thank the Tech Nation team for your collaboration over the years and for your focus on championing UK scale ups.”
Dale Murray CBE, Non Exec Director at Xero, Lightspeed Commerce, LendInvest, RatedPeople, Jupiter Fund Management and Cranemere Group: “Tech Nation has been at the forefront of a transformation for tech companies in the UK over the past decade. They’ve helped thousands of companies and motivated many more founders and start-up teams to undertake the always exciting work of growing innovative businesses. We now have a rich technology ecosystem and Tech Nation’s legacy will be that the UK is the best place to start and grow a thriving tech business.”
Sarah Williams-Gardener, CEO, FinTech Wales: “FinTech Wales are saddened to read this announcement. We have valued our partnership with Tech Nation, Gerard and his team over the years. Having supported the range of programmes offered we reflect on the lasting impact they have contributed to the UK tech sector by influencing change, and supporting and nurturing innovative startups and scaling organisations. Their independent impartial position has without doubt contributed to the UK being a global leader in FinTech. As a sector we must now support and retain the talent and assets this action will release.”
Stephen Ingledew OBE, Chairman, FinTech Scotland: “Tech Nation’s impactful leadership and valuable initiatives have made a significant contribution to the successful development of the technology ecosystem across the UK, particularly in providing important impetus to many entrepreneurs and innovators scaling new innovative enterprises across a range of sectors for the emerging new UK economy. Gerard and the team should be extremely proud of their achievements as evidenced by the many new tech enterprises growing across all corners of the UK, leaving an impressive economic legacy which will benefit the regions through employment and growth for many years to come.”
Saul Klein, Founder of Phoenix Court, home to LocalGlobe and Latitude: “The UK tech sector will want to thank Gerard and the Tech Nation team for all it has achieved over the last 9 years. Founders and their teams now have an ecosystem and networks that are copied across Europe and a firm foundation from which to build even more global tech companies.”
Tessa Clarke, Co-founder & CEO, Olio: “Olio has benefited enormously from the innovative, impartial and supportive network that Tech Nation has created over many years. We are alumni of the Upscale, International and Net Zero X Growth Programmes, which have each given us an incredible platform for growth and access to the information, tools and networks we’ve needed to supercharge our business. The launch of the Net Zero X accelerator last year for later stage climate tech companies with high-emissions reduction potential, is an example of how Tech Nation has been constantly evolving and innovating to support the tech sector and the UK economy in the most important and needed areas. I am deeply disappointed by the Government’s decision to give the DCMS grant to a large corporate bank, particularly at a time when Tech Nation and the UK tech economy has such incredible momentum, but is facing into challenging macroeconomic headwinds.”
Eric Van der Kleij, Cofounder, EdenBase.com: “On the one hand it’s good to see government leveraging the private sector to increase the resources available for tech startups and scaleups, and we hope that Barclays can help deliver that. But it’s going to be tough and in my view would have been better to mandate that the winner of this funding actually preserved and extended the incredible Tech Nation work, while maintaining the crucial neutrality, inclusivity and international brand positioning of the U.K. tech sector, that will be challenging for a commercial organisation to replicate.”
Mikela Druckman, Co-Founder & CEO, Greyparrot AI: “Tech Nation played a pivotal role in our growth journey at Greyparrot and we are grateful for all the support they provided us along the way. The connections to peers and experts who had been through the scaling path was invaluable to accelerate the learning and increase the chances of success of so many startups. This is undoubtedly a big loss for the UK tech ecosystem.”
Simon Mellin, CEO, Modern Milkman: “Tech Nation has been a huge enabler for Modern Milkman as we have scaled, offering the support we needed to grow at pace. Alongside us, there’s a whole raft of the UK darling tech companies within the Alumni from across the breadth of the UK, which reflects just how powerful Tech Nation’s support has been to Britain’s tech sector at large. It’s a real blow to the tech industry for this to no longer continue.”
Katy Wigdahl, CEO, Speechmatics: “Tech Nation has proved to be an important partner to Speechmatics. We were selected onto the Upscale programme for the most promising mid-stage tech companies in 2019, and then were subsequently selected for Tech Nation’s Future Fifty in 2022, for the UK’s leading late-stage tech companies. The journey from Upscale to Future Fifty is proof of Tech Nation’s effectiveness in action. Tech Nation’s growth programmes are of the highest accreditation, and have given the companies who take part unprecedented networks, connections, tools and insights they need to fuel their growth journey. Tech Nation has been an incredible platform for our business, and I want to thank the team for all their support and the important role they have played in our journey.”
Anthony Rose, Founder and CEO, Seedlegals: “At SeedLegals we were privileged to be invited to join Tech Nation’s Rising Stars and Upscale programmes. They were well organised and curated by Tech Nation, providing valuable insight and information. More importantly, they connected us with other founders at similar stages of their growth, and we still stay in touch years later to discuss business challenges and opportunities. Thanks Tech Nation!”
Daniel Korski, CEO of Public: “Tech Nation – and before it Tech City – has been so critical to building the UK’s rocketship of a digital economy, supporting fast-growing firms but also diverse founders and championing the digital economy across the country. It’s hard to imagine where we would be today had Tech Nation not existed.”
|UK Tech growth over the past decade||Tech Nation impact since inception in 2014||Tech Nation delivery since inception|
|$1trn valued UK tech ecosystem ($60Bn in 2013; 16x in 10 years)|
4.8m jobs (2.33m in 2013; x2 in 10 years)
135 tech unicorns (13 in 2013)
20 cities with a tech unicorn (4 in 2013)
|£600m of Gross Value Add contributed to the UK economy since 2014|
£15 return on every £1 invested in Tech Nation by the UK Government
95% of start-ups on Tech Nation’s accelerator growth programs have gone on to scale
More than a third of all tech unicorns and decacorns created in the UK have graduated from a Tech Nation growth program
£28bn raised by Tech Nation alumni
13 IPOs from Tech Nation alumni companies
+46% acceleration in turnover in companies supported by Tech Nation within 2 years
+18% acceleration in employment in companies supported by Tech Nation within 2 years
13,000 jobs created by Tech Nation alumni nationwide as a direct result of our intervention
|5,000+ companies supported |
1,250+ companies from across the country accelerated through 48 growth programs
64,000+ individuals through our online academy
6000+ Global Talent Visa applications processed, and 3000+ visas endorsed
700+ events to connect and inform the ecosystem
80+ research reports, giving an unrivalled, impartial and comprehensive analysis of the UK’s digital economy
3,200 leaders of UK scaling tech companies are members of Tech Nation’s Growth Platform network
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