This UK government-funded organisation could have given out 200 visas to tech workers -- but it only managed 7

Joanna ShieldsReutersTech City UK chair Baroness Shields.

A UK government organisation tasked with helping London tech startups to grow only managed to grant a handful of specialist visas to talented foreign tech workers, Techworld reports.

Tech City UK was given an allowance of 200 “exceptional talent visas” to attract overseas workers to come and join UK tech startups. But according to Techworld the organisation only managed to hand out seven visas in a year.

Only 10 applications were received for Tech City UK’s visa scheme, and seven applicants were approved. That might seem like a decent outcome for a pilot scheme — but Tech City UK had 200 visas to hand out, not 10.

Tech City UK was one of five British organisations allowed to endorse and fast-track visa applications for valuable workers from foreign countries. Only 10 applications for the scheme were received between 6 April 2014 and 1 April 2015, a freedom of invitation request sent by Techworld reveals. Seven were approved, two remain under review, and one was rejected.

The Arts Council was another British organisation given access to the exceptional talent visa scheme. It managed to attract 83 applications, far more than Tech City UK.

So what went wrong? Techworld suggests that Tech City failed to market the visa properly to tech companies in London. It points to a workshop held at Google Campus in London which focused on the exceptional talent visa, but seemingly had little effect on the companies who attended.

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