On 31 January 2023, Tech Nation announced that “after a decade transforming UK tech, it will cease operations and seek to transfer its assets, following termination of its core government grant funding. It is actively seeking interested parties to acquire its portfolio of assets to take forward in a new guise.
It was confirmed on 20 January 2023 that (Barclays) Eagle Labs network would take on the role of supporting entrepreneurs from 1 April 2023. It will now receive the £12m Digital Growth Grant from DCMS previously used by Tech Nation and provide services to support the same types of groups. This is something Eagle Labs was already doing through its own growth programs via its branches.
Tech Nation stated that the work they do with other programs not covered by the £12 m funding i.e. their accelerator programs, insights and research reports, the Growth Platform, (Global Talent) visa processing for the Home Office was built on the foundation of its 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 they have built upon this foundation can no longer be supported.
Tech Nation also stated that its existing DCMS contract concludes on 31st March 2023, and thereafter all current activities will be wound up. The Home Office has been notified of Tech Nation’s plans to cease operations and the Tech Nation visa programme will continue in the immediate term.
RESPONSE FROM THE HOME OFFICE
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are working closely with Tech Nation to ensure continuity of the digitech strand of the Global Talent visa in the short term, whilst we explore the long-term changes necessary in light of Tech Nation’s planned closure.
“We will also take every available step to ensure that applicants already part of the Global Talent route are not disadvantaged by the closure, so the UK can continue to benefit from the brightest and best living and working here.”
Read the full Tech Nation announcement here.
I understand that this announcement has caused some uncertainty given the numerous emails I’ve received however, this announcement doesn’t necessarily mean that the UK Global Talent Visa in Digital Technologies will cease to exist. From my understanding, it only means that Tech Nation as the endorsing body is ceasing to exist and they have announced that they are working on transferring that part of its operations to another body. While it is uncertain now, Tech Nation have stated that they are seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from interested parties and have already started discussions with mission-based organisations to take over. The deadline for the EOIs is 14 February 2023.
In September 2022 last year, there was speculation that (Barclays) Eagle Lab would win the £12 m funding but it wasn’t formally announced until 20 January 2023. Tech Nation responded to say that it had been working around the clock to secure its future given the 20 January 2023 announcement.
The UK Global Talent Visa scheme launched in 2014 with the aim of having the best and brightest talent come to the UK. Since the scheme started, Tech Nation have endorsed over 3000 entrepreneurs and digital talent from over 90+ countries (and have received over 5500 applicants from 120+ countries). The Digital Technology route is also the more popular route with more Global Talent Visas granted compared with the other routes via the other endorsing bodies (British Academy, Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, Arts Council England) in fields such as Science, Arts, Fashion, Architecture, Research, Engineering.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN NOW?
We know that Tech Nation is still the endorsing body in the immediate term and from my experience, Assessors on average have taken 3-4 weeks to come back with a decision (but they can take up to 8 weeks). If you’d like to discuss your applications to submit in the next few weeks, please email me on email@example.com. I understand this has caused uncertainty and I am sorry if it is causing you extra stress and worry. I am here to support you as best I can.
I am extremely sorry for those who will lose their jobs as the Tech Nation team in general have been a fantastic support to me over the years, particularly when I was the founder of my own start up, Global Talent Visa recipient and former Tech Nation Visa Ambassador. Tech Nation and the amazing team were the lifeline for the UK start up tech sector when I was based in Newcastle, Manchester and London.
In the meantime, while we don’t know who the endorsing body will be, I will keep abreast of any developments and share further announcements and updates from Tech Nation or the Home Office. Subscribe here for my newsletter.