Hello Tech Nation

Author

UK Business Angels Association

15 November 2017

On Wednesday 15th November, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have announced the start of Tech Nation. They have have pledged to commit an additional £21 million in funding over the next four years, to support the expansion of Tech City UK and Tech North into Tech Nation.

Tech Nation will also benefit from an increasing number of greater allocation of exceptional talent visas. These will be available to all endorsing bodies including for highly skilled tech workers who want to come and work in the UK, in recognition of the sector’s global nature.

Thriving digital tech clusters have sprung up all over the country from Bristol and Bath in the West Country, to Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland. But if the UK is to retain its position as Europe’s centre for tech, we need to develop and strengthen these clusters into a nation-wide network of digital excellence. Since its launch in 2011, Tech City UK and Tech North (from 2014) have helped the digital tech start-up and scale-up sector become the UK’s fastest growing industry. More than 1.7 million people now work in the digital tech sector and jobs are being created at twice the rate of other sectors in the economy. According to Tech Nation 2017, the tech sector has a turnover of £170 billion – an increase of 22% in five years.

With the government’s backing, we will take this proven formula and build a national network across eleven cities, including London. The digital tech sector has never been just about East London or booming Northern hotspots. By becoming Tech Nation we will transform the UK from a series of standalone tech hubs into a powerful network that can place the nation firmly at the top of global tech rankings.

We’ve made a great start. Tech City UK is arguably the longest-running and most successful ecosystem builder in Europe. It is connected, independent and trusted by digital entrepreneurs. It has unrivalled expertise in catalysing growth in tech companies at different stages of their development. The success is evident. London has become the digital capital of Europe and the envy of many tech hubs in helping entrepreneurs start and grow a digital business.

Tech Nation: A national network

Our priority will be to build a national network, connecting and catalysing growth in 11 tech clusters including London, through programmes aimed at every stage in the lifecycle of a digital business. The new funding provides the resources to add tech clusters to the network already established by Tech City UK and Tech North (that is, London and three clusters in the North – the North West, Yorkshire and North East). We will extend, where applicable, programmes which have proved successful in the North, such as Founders Network and Northern Stars, to build a national network of digital entrepreneurs. We will also strengthen our national programmes Future Fifty and Upscale.

Tech Nation – Visas

An important aspect of Tech Nation’s work on skills is its administration of the Tech Nation Visa scheme, which is an entry option for exceptionally talented individuals from around the world, who want to apply to work in the UK.

We are delighted that the Home Office is doubling the number of exceptional talent and exceptional promise visas that can be obtained – up from 1,000 to 2,000.

In addition, in future there will be no restriction on the limit for each sector, after the first 1,000 visas. This is great news for the UK’s tech community. Visa applications soared during 2016, underlining the desire of many talented people to work or start tech businesses in the UK. By doubling the allowance of exceptional talent visas, the tech community will feel confident that it can continue to hire for global expansion from a talent pool across the world.

Tech Nation – Entrepreneurial Skills (start-up & scale-up)

A priority for Tech Nation will be to enable ambitious founders and entrepreneurs to fulfill their potential. The UK’s tech sector has many talented individuals working in it, but it also faces a skills challenge which needs action.

Tech Nation will address the skills challenge across the UK, whether amongst people wanting to bring digital skills into their existing businesses, start a new tech business or companies on the brink of international expansion.

We will expand the content and reach of the Digital Business Academy so that it can support more than 40,000 people to learn the skills needed to start, join or grow a digital business. This will complement our existing skills programmes. Skills initiatives, like all our initiatives, will be underpinned by research, data and insights in order to showcase the country’s burgeoning tech ecosystem both nationally and internationally.

Tech Nation – Emerging Sector focus

As the tech ecosystem has matured, demand has risen for sector-specific programmes that can build on the UK’s competitive advantage. With the agreement of the Treasury, we will work especially hard to accelerate the Fintech sector and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector.

Linking together the best-in-class scaling businesses from the same sectors across different cities will help growing companies learn from each other and get support quickly when they need it.

Concentrating our resources on priority sectors will ensure the UK becomes the internationally recognised leader in these key emerging areas. In places where emerging sectors are starting to show dominance, we will work with these sectors to accelerate their growth. While doing so, we will make sure that supported sectors are capable of standing on their own when that sector support is withdrawn.

More can be found here via a blog post: http://www.techcityuk.com/blog/2017/11/we-are-tech-nation/

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