UK founders probe government's plans to reform startup services

UK pressure advocacy Coalition for a Digital Group is urging the government to commit to state funds for startup immigration visas, promotional campaigns and global investor networking. [image credit: Barclays]
UK founders probe government's plans to reform startup services

More than 60 startup founders expressed concern over speculation the UK government plans to end its existing startup services support and instead fund Big Four banking group Barclays to deliver a new services model.

Tech Nation's tech entrepreneurs' network offers help securing special immigration visas for tech talent — under the UK's Global Talent Visa programme  — as well as promoting startup resources and global network opportunities with potential investors.

Early reports emerged a few months ago that Eagle Labs had snatched the £12 million government tender from Tech Nation. 

In a letter organised by UK pressure advocacy Coalition for a Digital Group (Coadec), over 60 co-signatories urged the government to maintain funding for initiatives such as the above, which they described as "the front door for investors".

The letter, signed by Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and Founders Forum co-founder Brent Hoberman, continued: "Providers of government-backed support should be grounded in the startup ecosystem and local ecosystems across the country ⁠— not looking to ride on its coattails."

Barclays's involvement with the UK startup scene catalysed in 2015 with the launch of its brick-and-mortar incubator network, Barclays Eagle Labs, now with 30+ UK locations the length and breadth of the country.

Tech Nation was formed from the merger of two preceding government bodies in 2019, with its services now supporting 4,000 or so UK companies.

UKTN reports Tech Nation generates roughly 75% of in-bound revenue from government grants, but it expects to stay solvent even if it loses the £12 million tender.

The executive director for Coadec, Dom Hallas, commented: "Amid economic turbulence, startup founders need help more than ever.

"This means Government backing the ecosystem more - not pulling away. We want to ensure that if changes to support do occur, the things startups value most, including the special visa system for tech, are protected.”

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