In my previous blog, I wrote about how 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.”
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?
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.
Tech Nation Update
UPDATE FROM TECH NATION & THE HOME OFFICE
It’s been a week of uncertainty and I’m pleased to report that there has been an update from the Home Office and Tech Nation. It provides reassurance on 3 matters:
1. The Global Talent Visa in Digital Technology will not cease to exist after 31 March 2023. There will be a new endorsing body and who that will be will be announced at a later date.
2. Tech Nation will continue to accept new Global Talent endorsement applications and applicants should consider the route to be as open as normal and should continue to apply.
3. All previous endorsements remain valid.
This new update provides a bit more certainty and reassurance that you should continue your plans to apply for the endorsement for the Global Talent Visa either now or post 31 March 2023. As you can appreciate, I am prioritising my clients who are in the middle of their applications and ready to submit in the next few weeks.
I have uploaded a You Tube video where I go through the process of submitting an application and the timelines when submitting your applications.
In line with this good news from Tech Nation, I have some great news to share! One of my clients submitted on 1 February 2023 (the day after the Tech Nation announcement) and 6 days later, he received his endorsement for Exceptional Talent! We know that Tech Nation can take up to 8 weeks, but on average, it’s 3-4 weeks, so one week is a very fast turnaround time!
And finally, The UK Govt announced this week that it has created a new department, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (SIT). This is very important because previously, tech and innovation were split across 2 Govt Departments, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Prime Minister stated that “having a single department focussed on turning scientific and technical innovations into practical, applicable solutions to the challenges we face will help make sure the UK is the most innovative economy in the world”.
This is a positive step for the tech sector and the new Technology Secretary stated that
“the new department has received a warm welcome from the science, tech and business communities and it’s now my job to use the department to build on our world leading strengths in AI, life sciences, quantum, fintech, and green technology to deliver tangible and positive change across the UK”.
So, while last week was a very uncertain week, this news provides a positive step for the future of the UK tech sector and the Global Talent Visa in Digital Technology program.
I will keep updating you on any new information and in the meantime, best of luck with your applications.
In the meantime, we still 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.