The UK is the European leader for the creation of tech unicorns

The tech scene in the UK only continues to gallop onwards like a wild steed. Seems appropriate then that the country is also trailblazing with the most unicorns being born in the sector when compared to its European competitors

The UK is the European leader for the creation of tech unicorns

The UK has been a pioneer in being home to unicorns like Deliveroo, Brewdog and BenevolentAI, showcasing the nation’s diversity in producing potent businesses. Of course, many of these are leading the global ecosystem with futuristic technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality. Given that, it’s perhaps unsurprising Blighty wears the crown of Europe’s tech capital. And now, the country is also responsible for producing more unicorns than many European countries, accounting for 35% in the continent.

This news comes from a report released by the Digital Economy Council, the government’s engagement forum for the digital sector, which showed cities of Oxford and Cambridge combined are the torchbearers in the tech industry with nine $1bn companies being born. The two cities are ahead of European cities like Paris which created only five.

Being home to unicorns like AI-based cybersecurity firm Darktrace, chipmaker CSR and chip designer ARM, Cambridge has had close links to some of the most fast-growing startups. The city of Oxford on the other hand has startups like Oxford Nanopore, which created a mobile DNA sequencer the size of a USB stick, as well as Microsoft-backed biotech company Immunocore to its name. This is a clear testament of the unparalleled talent that the UK has under its wing.

Not far behind are cities being boosted by the Northern Powerhouse. While Manchester is thriving with e-commerce startups like boohoo, and The Hut Group, Leeds created two unicorns in the form of gambling company Sky Betting and Gaming and data analysis firm Callcredit. According to the report, even with a lesser population, Manchester spawned five unicorns putting it on par with Amsterdam.

Inevitably the capital of Blighty can’t be left behind. London, producing 21% of the continent’s unicorns, has created 36 of the firms worth a total of $132bn, while Berlin has produced eight worth $32bn.

Looking ahead, the UK also leads Europe by the number of potential future unicorns. With 54 businesses worth between $250m to $1bn adding to a total value of $18.6bn, the UK is far ahead when compared to its European competitor, Germany, which has 28 with a value of $8.8bn.

Commenting on this achievement, Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “The UK’s track record in creating fast-growing tech companies is second to none in Europe. These new statistics show Manchester and Edinburgh are now competing on a global scale and stellar tech firms are growing right across the country, spreading new jobs and investment. Through our Digital and Industrial Strategies we are creating the conditions to start up and grow brilliant tech ideas into world-beating global businesses and pushing the boundaries of science to change people’s lives for the better.”

Following the recent successful IPOs of Farfetch and Funding Circle and with 60 unicorns already under its belt, it’s no secret that the UK will soon be leading the globe in the tech sector. No wonder it’s attracted $1.4bn worth VC investment in a quarter.


Varsha Saraogi
Varsha Saraogi

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