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“Heavy loss” as Tech Nation set to close: Tech industry reacts


Following Tech Nation’s announcement that it will close its doors, Northern leaders have reflected on the “solid legacy” the growth platform will leave behind.

Tech Nation said it will now be “ceasing all existing operations” on 31 March and has started a redundancy consultation process after its core grant funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) was awarded to Barclays Eagle Labs.

Northern tech leaders reacted to the news last week, hopeful that Tech Nation could still continue to support the tech ecosystem it had helped to build.

Gilbert Corrales, founder and CEO at Newcastle-based performance marketing technology company Leaf, was able to move to the UK from Costa Rica as a result of Tech Nation’s visa scheme. He also went through two Tech UK programmes. 

In a statement, Tech Nation said it had notified the Home Office about its plans to wind up operations but its visa programme would continue in the “immediate term”.  

“It’s hard not to feel a sense of sadness to read the news of Tech Nation closing shop. Leaf were lucky enough to participate in two of their programmes as recipients of the Northern Stars Awards and later on the Scale Up awards and this was instrumental in our early growth. On a personal level, I am also a holder of a Tech Nation Visa. This allowed me, my co-founders, and several members of our team to set home in the UK to make our entrepreneurial dreams come true and to support the growth of Newcastle as a tech hub,” said Corrales.

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Gilbert Corrales
Gilbert Corrales

“Barclays through Barclays Eagle Labs have a tough act to follow. It will be especially hard to replicate the regional network of supporters Tech Nation had already cemented and the tangible results Tech City, Tech North and later Tech Nation went to achieve on behalf of and with the support of all us in the sector.”

Just several days ago, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the government had ambitions for “world-beating enterprises to make Britain the world’s next Silicon Valley”. Regional tech hubs and communities will be vital to achieving this goal, points out one leader.

“Tech Nation’s collapse comes at a time when the UK’s future as a tech hub is under significant scrutiny. The industry body was created at a time when the UK’s tech scene was thriving, led by an exciting collective of scaling tech startups. Now, it seems political uncertainty, market volatility and fears of a recession have symbolically brough to an end an industry body that once symbolised the burgeoning potential of the country’s tech scene,” explained Rhys Merrett, Senior Account Director The PHA Group.

“Chancellor Hunt has voiced clear intentions about making the UK the next Silicon Valley, and this vision is backed by the Prime Minister. While there is clear entrepreneurial potential and a new generation of companies in new industries like Web3 stepping into the limelight, the onus is on the government to make sure the conditions are in place for the UK to remain an attractive tech hub.

“Part of Tech Nation’s success was taking a regional approach that looked for talent and opportunities outside of London – this is integral to the UK’s future as a tech hub and something that needs to be emphasised as part of future government initiatives.”

As for Tech Nation’s role in the UK’s tech ecosystem and growth programmes, Sara Donnelly, Director at Social Tech Communications, reflects on the legacy the growth platform leaves behind.

Sara Social Tech
Sara Donnelly

“The closure of Tech Nation is a heavy loss for the UK’s tech ecosystem, which has grown substantially over the past decade thanks, in no small part, to the dedication and work of Tech Nation,” said Donnelly.

“Only a couple of weeks ago I was at the Tech Nation Rising Stars 5.0 Regional Finals in Manchester, and the buzz and passion from all involved was palpable. The programmes, reports, events and conferences that Tech Nation has delivered have helped define and drive forward the UK’s tech footprint, while it’s ability to accelerate growth for scaleups has placed homegrown talent firmly on the global map, with some leading tech brands, such as Monzo and Deliveroo, amongst those it has supported.

“Tech Nation has developed and will leave behind a solid legacy for the nation’s tech scaleup communities, a foundation which I hope will continue to be built upon to ensure the UK’s tech ecosystem continues on the high growth, high investment path it has become known and celebrated for.”

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