UK creating technology unicorns at rate of one a week

Twenty businesses become unicorns in first half of 2020, as £14bn of venture capital is ploughed into nearly 2,000 tech start-ups

Britain is creating unicorns, companies valued in excess of $1bn, almost at the rate of one a week, according to Government research.

Twenty new unicorns were minted just in the first half of this year – including Tractable, Zego and Depop – and the UK receives more venture capital than France, Germany and Israel combined.

A record £13.5bn of venture capital was invested in 1,700 companies in the first half of the year, including mega fundings for Revolut, Hopin and Cinch. More than half of all rounds raised this year have been for over £72m ($100m).

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This was almost three times what was invested in British tech in the first six months of 2020.

The UK is now home to 105 unicorns, again more than France and Germany combined.

The number of “futurecorns” – high-growth companies with the potential to become unicorns – is also growing, with 153 possible candidates in the UK. Some of these futurecorns include digital bank Zopa, kids entertainment company Moonbug and direct-to-consumer letterbox flowers platform Bloom & Wild.

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Fintech continued to dominate most investment rounds with the sector attracting £4.2bn in the first six months of the year.

Healthtech was the second busiest tech sector with £2.7bn raised, followed by £1.3bn for enterprise software.

The VC investment boom has not been concentrated solely in London. Five UK cities outside London are comparable to other European tech hubs: Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol and Edinburgh.

Of these, Oxford is ranked as top city for attracting venture capital outside of London, due to its biotech sector.

The Government trumpets the figures as underlining the UK’s position as the leading centre of tech in Europe and the main challenger to Silicon Valley after China.

The figures were compiled for the UK’s Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation by Dealroom for London Tech Week.

Carolyn Dawson, managing director of London Tech Week event organiser Informa Tech, said: “As we prepare to host the world’s top investors at London Tech Week, we are delighted that the UK’s tech sector is set to achieve a record year of investment and London remains the epicentre for VC funding.”

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