Rising Stars competition on its last lap as Tech Nation prepares to close
The current Rising Stars competition will be the last in its current format following the announcement that its host, Tech Nation, will be closing its doors on March 31.
The Rising Stars competition is the only national early-stage tech scaleup competition in the UK. A government-backed national asset, Tech Nation has delivered one of the best ROIs for the taxpayer, delivering £15 return on every £1 funded by the UK government since its inception in 2010.
While 80 per cent of start-ups fail within their first two-to-five years, over 95 per cent of start-ups on Tech Nation’s accelerator programmes have gone on to scale. One third of all UK tech unicorns and decacorns have graduated from a Tech Nation programme, collectively raising £28bn to date in venture capital. Alumni include Cambridge-based Darktrace, plus Deliveroo, Revolut and Depop.
All that is about to end because the organisation’s core government grant funding has been terminated. A £12.1million Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) grant has been awarded to rival Barclays Eagle Labs, and, without the funding, Tech Nation – a not-for-profit – will not be able to run its activities, including the Rising Stars programme after the current contest ends.
A statement issued by the tech scale-up organisation said: “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.”
One of the last Cambridge start-ups still in the competition is Purrmetrix, which has developed new ways of creating and utilising environmental data for property professionals, has made its final pitch in Tech Nation’s Rising Star programme.
The team of four, which moved into Chesterton Mill last month after being in Shelford since its 2016 inception, is optimistic.
Purrmetrix, along with other Cambridge start-ups Medwise.ai and RippleXn, was proud to have been part of the very last Rising Stars competition.
Hermione Crease, Purrmetrix CEO and co-founder, said: “At a time when getting housing to net zero is urgent, we are so excited to be recognised as a Tech Nation Rising Star regional winner.”
She added: “It’s been really fun, we spent several years bootstrapping the business so now we have a chance to unveil to a wider audience.”
Dr Keith Tsui, co-founder of Medwise.ai, said he was “really proud” of being in the final, while Adrian Land, co-founder of RippleXn, said: “The entire Tech Nation experience has been phenomenally valuable.”
With the future looking bleak, Joanna Shields, CEO of Babraham-based BenevolentAI, said of the journey so far: “It was a privilege to serve as chair of Tech City UK before it became Tech Nation, and we at BenevolentAI have greatly valued our partnership in the years since.
“Whilst it is sad to see the end of this impactful chapter, I am proud of the great contribution Tech Nation has made in spreading digital growth and in supporting our vibrant community of scale-ups in their journeys to build businesses which are shaping the trajectory and success of technological innovation across the UK.”
The final cohort of Rising Stars is expected to be announced at a live event on March 29.