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From the Ashes of Tech Nation, Rises Tech Nation 2.0 for UK SMEs

‘Tech Nation 2.0’ is finally becoming a reality as Tech Nation officially relaunches, working with the government to be an independent voice for founders. This comes as a result of Tech Nation being a part of the Founders Forum Group.

In March 2023, Tech Nation lost a bid for a £12million government grant and consequently, shut down. However, Tech Nation is now back. Following the relaunch, the company will carry over four of its predecessor’s startup growth programmes. This includes one for ethnic minority founders, a competition for early-stage startups, a climate programme and a programme for late-stage businesses.

Tech Nation will continue to be the endorsing body for digital technology applications under the Global Talent visa and the relaunch will be the support system for the most exciting businesses and founders, from early seed stage to success story.

Key objectives include producing data-driven reports on the tech ecosystem. These tools can equip founders with the knowledge they need to drive the growth of innovative, game-changing businesses.

Carolyn Dawson, OBE of Founders Forum Group
Carolyn Dawson, OBE of Founders Forum Group

Carolyn Dawson, OBE of Founders Forum Group, gave a keynote speech announcing the relaunch news at Birmingham Tech Week on 16 October 2023. There, she announced that Tech Nation aims to help the industry by investing £10billion into SMEs over the next five years.

She commented: “Our mission is to build a world in which all tech entrepreneurs have access to the knowledge and communities they need to succeed.”

“Tech Nation 2.0 will champion all kinds of tech founders, highlighting their needs and fighting for our incredible industry from seed stage to success story.”

A breeding ground for innovation

In 2022, 99.2 per cent of all businesses in the UK were SMEs. With a turnover from these companies estimated to be around £1.6trilllion, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, it is paramount that SMEs get all the help they can to ensure the innovative environment is nurtured and improved.

Wayne Johnson, CEO and co-founder of Encompass Corporation
Wayne Johnson, CEO and co-founder of Encompass Corporation

Exploring the importance of Tech Nation on the UK SME market, Wayne Johnson, CEO and co-founder of Encompass Corporation, comments: “The relaunch of Tech Nation is a positive step for the UK’s technology industry as it collectively goes after ambitious growth goals. This will be particularly encouraging for the entrepreneurs and business owners who will benefit from the support, collaboration, and spotlight that such a network brings.

“This collaboration must be fostered and promoted, and Tech Nation will act as an example, helping to drive the development of the solutions that are imperative to key industries today, such as financial services.

“London recently being highlighted as a global technology investment powerhouse underlines the UK’s potential, and having a hub to access knowledge and resources is vital to maximising this and supporting businesses at the forefront of critical innovation.

“Tech development and adoption are at the top of the agenda across industries. We must come together to create a marketplace that breeds innovation. Founders and business leaders have a vital role to play as the UK works to cement its position as a science and technology superpower. To ensure their success, we must encourage and support them.”

A new chapter for UK tech scene
Ekaterina Almasque, general partner at OpenOcean
Ekaterina Almasque, general partner at OpenOcean

SMEs took a significant hit when Tech Nation shut down, but now it has returned, the ecosystem will greatly benefit according to Ekaterina Almasque, general partner at venture capital firm OpenOcean. She said: “It was a dark day for the UK tech industry when Tech Nation had to close its doors.

“After leading the charge for the UK’s digital industries during the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ heyday, overseeing growth programs for start-ups, digital academies, and international expansion efforts, being shut was a significant blow.

“The loss of Tech Nation denied entrepreneurs of a vital network within the UK tech industry. It’s imperative that key players in the industry are able to find each other and share ideas and expertise. Consequently, we must make every effort to simplify this process, which entails connecting investors, start-ups, and policymakers.

“Therefore, it’s welcome news that Tech Nation 2.0 is back. It’s vital the UK provides grassroots support for its tech start-ups or risk falling behind other nations. We should pay close attention to the structure of the new Tech Nation.

“Will it be able to provide the same level of support for the tech ecosystem as the previous incarnation? This means being able to increase R&D budgets, creating additional sovereign funds to support strategic initiatives, and increasing the inflow of talent into start-ups.

“Tech Nation 2.0 will be especially important for deep tech firms in fields like quantum technology. These companies have timelines measured in decades. They rely on targeted incentives and funding from the government to ensure continued progress is made. Furthermore, we need to establish the right procedures to guide visionary founders with innovative software concepts from initial whiteboard sketches all the way to becoming publicly listed companies in Piccadilly Square.”

A leap into the future
Howard Davidson, CMO at Almond FinTech
Howard Davidson, CMO at Almond FinTech

For Howard Davidson, CMO at Almond FinTech, the blockchain-based funds transfer network, the relaunch is a breath of fresh air for the UK tech industry. “The phoenixing of #TechNation 2.0 this October, under the keen eyes of Founders Forum Group. It is like a fresh brew for the UK’s fintech aficionados. It’s not just a makeover; it’s a nod to the relentless innovation coursing through the UK’s tech sector.

“With new programs and insightful reports on the table, there’s a clear intent to fuel entrepreneurial fervour​.

“The ‘Building Better Together’ report, born from Tech Nation’s Fintech Delivery Panel’s review of the UK Fintech Pledge, is more than words on paper. It’s a call to unity, urging fintech startups and scaleups to band together and conjure disruptive fin-magic​.

“Tech Nation 2.0 isn’t about retracing old paths; it’s an invite to a wild, inventive jam. It’s where fintech minds can riff, experiment, and create solutions. Solutions that don’t just address today’s queries but dare to probe tomorrow’s uncertainties.

“It’s about fostering a realm where SaaS solutions don’t just exist, they thrive and evolve. This relaunch isn’t a pat on the back. It’s a leap into a domain where the UK fintech scene doesn’t just survive; it leads.

“So here’s to #TechNation 2.0, the fresh playground where the fintech narrative gets not just written but re-envisioned.”

Fostering growth
Zain Ali, CEO and co-founder of Centuro Global
Zain Ali, CEO and co-founder of Centuro Global

Zain Ali, CEO and co-founder of Centuro Global, the global expansion platform, points out the importance of Tech Nation in the UK’s ecosystem.

“Tech Nation has played an important role in the UK tech startup scene for more than a decade and its sudden loss of funding earlier this year was a shock to many, including me. Given its role in supporting UK startups by bringing in foreign talent and also helping foreign talent launch businesses in the UK, its return is truly fantastic news.

“In a fiercely competitive global arena where nations are vying for top talent, especially considering the recent hike in the UK’s visa fees, Tech Nation’s resurgence is a welcome beacon to the UK startup scene. Lastly, this news is a crucial counterbalance, reaffirming the UK’s commitment to being a true hotbed in supporting startup success.”

Solving the talent problem

The talent crisis is a global problem and could cost businesses $449.7billion by 2030 if nothing is done according to Dufrain. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that organisations such as Tech Nation are doing all they can to ensure the success of new strong talent in the industry.

Karoli Hindriks, co-founder and CEO of tech-enabled employee relocation provider, Jobbatical
Karoli Hindriks, co-founder and CEO of Jobbatical

Speaking on the topic Karoli Hindriks, co-founder and CEO of tech-enabled employee relocation provider, Jobbatical says: “The UK’s tech scene will be optimistic at the relaunch and investment into Tech Nation.

“The industry’s ongoing struggle with a talent crisis has worsened due to the increased visa fees for foreign talent, which came into effect earlier this month, further clouding the future of the Global Talent Visa. Therefore, clarity over the future of the visa programme, along with a commitment to work with the government to ease skilled migration of tech talent, should be a priority for Tech Nation as it ramps up operations again.

“Only by enabling tech firms to hire the right workers at the right time – be that home-grown or international talent – can sustainable growth of the sector, and a genuine global competitive-edge, be a reality.”

Author

  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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