Editorial

DCMS launches £12 million competition to boost UK tech start-ups

Successful bidder will accelerate the growth of tech start-ups and scale-ups across the UK

Posted 12 April 2022 by Christine Horton


The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is launching a new government grant competition to boost the growth of tech start-ups and scale-ups in the UK.

The £12.09 million Digital Growth Grant will focus on opening up access to skills training and advice and providing support services to the digital and tech sector over two years.

Improving regional support networks for start-ups and scale ups is a key focus for the funding.

Criteria

The winner will deliver support services to the digital sector, particularly in transformative and emerging technologies These services should address key challenges faced by a wide range of companies from the seed funding stage to series A/B, their first or second round of financing.

They must also grow regional support networks for tech start-ups and scale ups. Activities should deliver concrete improvements in three or more areas identified in DCMS’ Regional Ecosystems report as crucial to the success of the digital economy: investment, skills, innovation, infrastructure and business growth. Support should be tailored to local needs and tech specialisms, developed in partnership with local bodies.

They must ensure founders and firms can access digital entrepreneurship and investment readiness training with tailored advice to help develop their skills to start and grow a tech business. The winner will need to signpost start-ups and scale ups to the digital skills initiatives in private and the public sector (DCMS’ local digital skills partnerships) and share information on the types of roles available in tech companies, the skills required to access these roles, and direction to low/no cost skills provisions to acquire those skills.

Elsewhere, they must promote and raise awareness of the strength and competitiveness of the UK tech sector with the aim of boosting investor confidence and inspiring the next generation of tech workers and entrepreneurs.

Thriving tech sector

The UK tech sector is the third globally to be valued at $1 trillion. There are now more than 40 unicorns – companies valued at $1 billion – outside London and 100 regional ‘futurecorns’. These are businesses on track to gaining unicorn status.

DCMS said this funding will help “create booming tech hubs throughout the UK and level up growth in these job and wealth-generating businesses.”

“Start-ups and scale ups are hugely important to our thriving tech sector,” said Digital Minister Chris Philp. “This funding is dedicated to growing these innovative businesses wherever they are in the country, providing the support and skills they need to succeed and create good jobs and generate wealth.”

The government will consult the market to help refine the grant specification before applications open later in the year.

The successful organisation will receive the funding from April 1, 2023. The funding for this grant has previously been awarded to Tech Nation Group Limited. DCMS will continue to provide direct grant funding to Tech Nation until March 2023.