It has been announced to the dismay of the tech community in the UK, that Tech Nation, the country's leading network for tech entrepreneurs, will cease operations from 31 March 2023, having lost its critical government funding to Barclays' Eagle Labs. In its own words:
"After a decade as a government-backed organisation serving the UK scaleup tech ecosystem, we are today announcing that Tech Nation will be closing its doors from 31st March 2023. Tech Nation’s core grant funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport ('DCMS) is being awarded to Barclays Bank. With this foundation removed, Tech Nation’s remaining activities are not viable on a standalone basis.
As a direct result of the DCMS grant withdrawal, Tech Nation will be ceasing all existing operations through a carefully planned wind-down and has commenced a redundancy consultation process. Tech Nation is also actively seeking interested parties to acquire its portfolio of assets to take forward in a new guise"
The announcement has caused serious concern for in the digital technology sector, not least for leaders and potential leaders looking to relocate to the UK. This is because Tech Nation is the endorsing body for the digital tech experts under the Global Talent visa category (known colloquially as the 'Tech Nation visa').
Tech Nation has played a critical role enabling tech talent to migrate to the UK and, by its own estimation has endorsed more than 3,000 individuals applying to enter or stay in the UK under this route. Until 31 March 2023 Tech Nation will continue its role as an endorsing body. The Home Office has however, so far remained silent on what will happen thereafter, both for those making initial applications in this category and for those looking to renew their existing visas. What is clear is that Eagle Labs will not be taking on this endorsing role.
The loss of a visa specifically designed for tech talent would severely impact the competitiveness of the UK's offering to the digital technology industry, relative to other jurisdictions such as the US. It is thus in the UK's economic interests for the Home Office to announce an alternative before 31 March 2023. The question is whether they will do so?
For those looking to apply for, or renew, a 'Tech Nation visa' imminently, it would certainly be wise to do so before 31 March 2023 just in case they do not.