Tech Nation was founded in 2011 by the coalition government. The core grant of funding also allowed Tech Nation to endorse applications under the Digital Technology category of the Global Talent visa route.
In supporting start-ups and scaleups with their growth programmes, Tech Nation has been at the forefront of nurturing the UK’s tech ecosystem to becoming the top-rated digital economy in Europe, valued at $1trn and employing up to 5 million people nationwide. Indeed, scaleups create over 90% of UK tech jobs. Tech Nation’s endorsement and involvement with the Global Talent visa route has not only focused on driving investment and innovation within the UK, but has also resulted in growing regional support networks and has encouraged tech unicorns and decacorns to flourish. However, after a decade of serving as a government-backed organisation Tech Nation will be ceasing operations and therefore will no longer administer Global Talent immigration endorsements.
Reasons behind the closure
The Home Office granted core funding to Tech Nation in order to help the UK to become a centre for global tech startups. Approximately 75% of Tech Nation’s revenue derived from government grants, with the Digital Growth Grant from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) comprising a significant portion of that funding. Tech Nation will be ceasing operations as of 31 March 2023 as DCMS has awarded the 12 million pound Digital Growth Grant to Eagle Labs instead of to Tech Nation in September 2022.
Eagle Labs is a tech branch of Barclays pioneered to support the UK’s digital tech scene. However, Eagle Labs will not be taking on Tech Nation’s role in administering global talent visa endorsements and there is no update yet on which body or organisation will resume this responsibility.
Global Talent endorsement – what’s next?
Tech Nation plays an essential role in the operation and success of the Global Talent visa route. Individuals with experience in the digital technology sector can only apply under this visa category once they have obtained an endorsement from Tech Nation. Once the endorsement is granted, the applicant has three months to apply for a visa. The closure of Tech Nation as an endorsing body creates uncertainty around the Global Talent visa route, not only for those who intend to or have pending applications for an endorsement with Tech Nation, but also those who have already secured endorsement and require this to be continued in order to maintain their immigration status.
Tech Nation has informally said that the processing of Tech Nation Visa endorsement applications is currently expected to continue as normal up to and beyond the 31st March. They also expect that any previous endorsements issued by Tech Nation will be unaffected and remain valid.
However, there is no official statement on Tech Nation’s website confirming the date on which new applications will stop being accepted, and who will take over the endorsement process.
At time of writing the UK Visas and Immigration Department has not made a public statement about the closure or inevitable changes to the Global Talent visa route, which is disappointing.
Although another operator is expected to take over Tech Nation’s endorsement operations, details of this are yet to be confirmed. Individuals seeking to obtain visa endorsements under the digital technology category of the Global Talent route should consider accelerating their applications to avoid the risk of delays.