“Tech Nation gave us the foundation of who we are today”
The Sunday Times first ran the story that Barclays Eagle Labs, the bank’s national incubator network, had successfully bidded for the funding in September 2022.
At the time, the reaction was largely negative. In an open letter, over 140 tech founders, executives and investors wrote to the government arguing that the investment should instead go to an organisation “grounded in the startup ecosystem”.
Unsurprisingly, the fallout from that decision has now led to significant backlash from the startup community. After extensive consultation, Tech Nation has been forced to close its doors, accepting that the programme could not continue without core government grant funding.
For the many businesses which benefited from being named a Tech Nation ‘Rising Star’, there is dismay. For those companies that make up the organisation’s current cohort, who had been promised support and coaching on their growth journey, the future is uncertain.
Max Buchan founded Worldr, which also featured in the Startups 100 Index 2023, four years ago. The cybersecurity startup was selected by Tech Nation as a Rising Star Finalist in 2020, an honour which helped it to build crucial early-stage brand exposure.
Buchan describes the news as bitter. He continues, “Aside from giving Worldr a platform to network with like-minded innovators, Tech Nation provided valuable mentorship opportunities from industry experts, helping us build a solid foundation of who we are today.”
The feeling now amongst startups is confusion. Without Tech Nation, what will emerge to fill the gap in the UK’s tech ecosystem?
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