Written by Natasha Bernal
First published 10 June 2019
The UK tech sector has produced one unicorn firm each month over the past year, according to new figures released ahead of London Tech Week.
The UK has created more unicorn tech companies, firms valued at more than 1 billion US dollars, than any other country except for the US and China, according to new data compiled by Tech Nation and Dealroom.
Ahead of this year’s London Tech Week, which starts today, it has been revealed that the UK produced 13 firms valued at more than 1 billion US dollars (£784 million) over the past year, taking its overall total to 72.
More than a third of Europe’s fastest-growing tech companies are now based in Britain, following 35 billion US dollars (£27 billion of investment in the British tech sector between 2013 and 2018.
London leads digital growth across the continent, with 45 unicorns based in the city, including 18 fintech firms, such as Monzo, Revolut and OakNorth.
The new figures also reveal that the UK has six cities outside of the capital which are home to at least two tech unicorns – Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Edinburgh.
Since the start of 2019, a number of UK firms have confirmed their unicorn status with major funding rounds, including Starling Bank, Deliveroo and Ovo Energy.
The figures come as Prime Minister Theresa May today prepares to announce that global technology companies pledge to invest more than £1 billion in the UK.
Mrs May will also commit the Government to invest £153 million in the development of quantum computing.
The prime minister will make the announcement at the opening of London Tech Week, the annual programme of events celebrating the city’s technology sector.
In total, more than £1.2 billion pounds is expected to be invested by companies from around the world.
“Already we are one of the best places in the world to start and grow a tech business,” Mrs May will say.
“British Tech is growing over one-and-a-half times faster than the rest of the economy, adding more than £130 billion to our economy every year.
“But if we are going to maintain our position as a global leader, our challenge is how we develop British Tech and make it even better.
“We want this to be the place everyone thinks of – and comes to – first when they want to develop their world-changing tech ideas. This is a challenge shared between industry and Government.”
As well as the investment from Government for quantum technologies, an additional £205 million has been pledged by industry – with a focus on how the high-powered computing system could be used to accelerate drug development.
“Today as we sit on the cusp of the next great industrial revolution, we have the opportunity to work together and ensure that the advances we see transform our world for the better, and for the benefit of everyone,” the Prime Minister will say.
“Government will back you all the way.”
Later on Monday, Mrs May will host a roundtable for leading technology firms, including Microsoft UK, Google and mobile bank Monzo, where they will discuss ways technology can be used to boost the economy, competition and tackle social challenges.
The announcements will also include the availability of 2,500 places on artificial intelligence and data conversion courses to start next year, and the launch of a study into tech competitiveness which will look to identify ways to ensure the UK remains attractive to businesses.
London Tech Week, now in its sixth year, will see hundreds of events take place across five days in a celebration of the city’s technology sector.