Last week at the consumer electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas the event's organiser said the UK government's lack of support for startups was a "source of embarrassment". Gary Shapiro's comments were no doubt self-serving - he was criticising the government specifically for not supporting startups to attend CES - but did he have a point?

UK minister for sport, media and culture Matt Hancock responded to the criticism, telling the BBC: "He's wrong on that because the British presence here is significant. This is one of many different shows around the world where we have a British presence. In a sense what it shows is there is a constant battle to stay ahead."

© iStock
© iStock

So what does the UK government do to support technology startups? Here are the main resources available to founders, from hard funding to soft advice.

1. Funding

There are many ways to fund a startup. You can bootstrap the business yourself or through friends and family, go to the bank or gain entry to an incubator or accelerator. In terms of government support though there are several funding routes that can be taken.

Read next: How to fund a startup - 11 options for funding a new business - How to get your startup off and running

The government's Start Up loans scheme offers up to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6 percent per annum for new business ideas, as well as mentoring and support services.

Theresa May pledged £2 billion in government investment by 2020 for projects and businesses conducting research and development of cutting edge technology, with a specific focus on AI, robotics and biotechnology.

Government body Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) holds funding competitions for businesses and research organisations. Funding of between £250,000 and £10 million is up for grabs from its 2016/17 budget of £561 million for anyone working on emerging technologies; health and life sciences; infrastructure systems; and manufacturing and materials.

For businesses setting up shop in the capital there is the London Co-Investment Fund, founded and managed by Funding London and Capital Enterprise and which includes £25 million in funds from the Mayor of London’s Growing Places fund. This money is earmarked for investment in seed rounds of between £250,000 to £1 million for successful applicants.

2. Support

In terms of soft support the Business is Great website is a solid resource for information on subjects as varied as how to protect your intellectual property to tax advice. is also a resource for founders to find tips on setting up in the capital, from workspaces and events to mentorship programmes, job boards and funding tips. Tech London is a joint project between the Mayor of London, investor portal Gust and lead sponsor IBM. London & Partners also offers support and advice for scale-up companies looking to set up shop in the capital.

Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson also set up the International Business Programme last year to help UK startups to set up and trade abroad.

Read next: Two UK tech companies explain how to expand internationally, and how the Mayor of London aims to help hundreds of startups follow in their footsteps

The government is also keen to present the UK as a good place for startups to set up outside of their home market due to its corporation tax rates, access to talent, the ability to register a business within 48 hours and general government support and guidance.

For example: it may have outgrown the startup moniker by now but Snapchat parent company Snap Inc recently decided to set up its international headquarters in the UK, regardless of the Brexit vote.

3. Visas

The government relaxed rules on visas for up to 200 "exceptional" technology workers a year through the Tech Nation visa scheme in October 2015. However many in the sector warn that access to international talent is too restricted.

Since the beginning of April 2016 the Home Office has issued just over half of the available visas, according to Tech City UK. However, it still takes on average 16 weeks to hire someone through the government's tier 2 visa for skilled workers with a job offer and around three weeks without that.

The government also offers entrepreneur visas for founders with "businesses which have high growth potential" and has been funded by at least £50,000 from an approved organisation.

However, the future of these schemes, and of visas for tech talent wanting to live and work in the UK in general, is currently up in the air following the UK decision to leave the EU.

Nine technology entrepreneurs and investors signed a letter detailing recommendations for the government post-Brexit at the end of 2016, with free movement of talent a top priority. The letter states: "It is imperative that the government recognises the need to attract and retain the very best talent globally."

Read next: Tech founders and VCs send their 10 post-Brexit recommendations to the Prime Minister

In terms of actual recommendations the letter states its support for a STEM passport policy. This would mean the automatic granting of a visa, or permanent residency, to foreign students who earn advanced STEM degrees like PhDs at a range of accredited UK universities, to ensure talented individuals don’t leave simply because they don’t get a job straight out of university.

France has recently set up its own tech visa programme called the French Tech Ticket.

4. Broadband

The government's broadband connection voucher scheme provided more than 50,000 businesses with discounted broadband before being shut down at the end of 2015.

The government does still run better broadband schemes for businesses in areas where their speeds are below 2MB per second.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged £1 billion towards the rollout of superfast fibre optic broadband across the country in the Autumn Statement last year, however this is the latest in a long line of similar, unfulfilled, pledges by government.

5. Mentoring

Tech City UK is a government-funded body which provides a range of support for technology companies. Its schemes include the Future Fifty, which gives select startups access to expertise within both the Government and across the private sector. Alumni include Just Eat, Shazam and Skyscanner.

Tech City UK also runs the Digital Business Academy, a free online learning platform for budding tech entrepreneurs to learn key skills, with rewards including free and discounted work space and mentoring.

The government also backed a mentoring portal, linking new businesses with relevant mentors, called back in 2011.