Who and where are the UK unicorns?

New data shows where the UK unicorns are located and how long it took them to achieve the status.

New research shows that the UK is a European leader when it comes to the business unicorn.

The UK, well-known for its vibrant start-up culture, now has 13 so-called unicorn companies to its name – privately held start-up businesses that are worth $1 billion or more, according to Compare the Market.

More unicorns than Germany and France

The companies are pretty evenly spread across a range of sectors, including fintech, virtual reality, food and drink, software and computers.

This means the UK has more unicorns than Germany (4), France (2), Switzerland (2) Sweden (1) and the Netherlands (1) put together

However, this is behind the US which has 114 unicorns and China which has 70.

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The research pulls together data on all 241 unicorns across the world and found that companies operating in the mobile and real estate sectors reach unicorn status the fastest, at an average of two and three years. Fitness, biotech, social, travel and cybersecurity companies reached a $1 billion valuation within an average of five years. The table below shows all the unicorns currently in the UK.

Company Valuation Date Formed
Became A Unicorn
Area Industry
Improbable $1bn 2012 2017
benevolent.ai $1bn 2013 2015
Funding Circle $1bn 2010 2015
Radius Payments Solutions $1.07bn 1990 2017 Crewe Internet Software & Services
BrewDog $1.15bn 2007 2017
ACORN OakNorth $1.2bn 2015 2017 Middlesex Fintech
Farfetch $1.5bn 2008 2015
Oxford Nanopore Technologies $1.55bn 2005 2015 Oxford Healthcare
TransferWise $1.6bn 2010 2015
Deliveroo $2bn 2012 2017
BGL Group $3bn 1992 2017
The Hut Group $3.25bn 2004 2017 Manchester eCommerce
Global Switch $6.02bn 1998 2016
Computer Hardware & Services

Companies tipped to become a unicorn in the next few years include Medopad, a UK healthcare company, which raised $28 million in Series A funding this year and digital bank Monzo and Perkbox are also expected to reach a $1 billion valuation soon.

Unicorn founders investing

Firstminute Capital, which is backed by 30 unicorn founders from the likes of lastminute.com, Skyscanner, Trulia and Betfair have raised $100 million in a new fund. The fund has backed Cambridge self-driving start-up Wayve and fuel delivery firm Zebra recently.

See also: Tech unicorns UK – complete guide to the billion-dollar club

Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2018 to 2019.

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