The unicorn companies at the centre of UK tech
London Tech Week is officially underway and the UK tech scene has a lot to celebrate this year. According to data by Tech Nation and Dealroom, the UK is the third in the world for producing successful tech companies, behind the US and China.
In particular, the UK has a lot of success when it comes to creating unicorns, private companies that are worth $1 billion (£800 million) or more. Since last June, a roster of new unicorns have been added to the list thanks to notable investment rounds for the likes of Monzo, Checkout.com, Deliveroo and Ovo Energy.
Things are only set to continue. At the opening of LTW this morning, UK prime minister Theresa May said more than £1.2 billion is expected to be invested in UK tech companies from around the world this year.
Here are the 17 UK tech unicorns to know
AI start-up BenevolentAI is making waves in the medical scene, using AI to develop new medicines for diseases including Motor Neuron Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
In 2018, the company was valued at £1.4 billion after raising £109 million in funding.https://d-1756074432213975973.ampproject.net/2108192119000/frame.html
Payments software Checkout.com hit the headlines earlier this year when it raised the largest fintech series A round in Europe, and the third largest globally too.
Launched in 2010, the company has offices in cities including London, Dubai, San Francisco and Paris, and counts Deliveroo, Transferwise and Samsung amongst its customers.
The company is now worth £1.57 billion.
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Security company Darktrace has developed its own machine learning technology based on the body’s immune system for companies to fight off cyber attacks.
Co-founder and co-CEO Poppy Gustafsson and the company’s CTO Jack Stockdale were recently made OBEs for services to the cyber security industry.
Darktrace is worth nearly £1.3 billion after only five years.
Food delivery start-up Deliveroo has changed the way we eat at home, and now has over 10,000 restaurants on its roster.
There were rumours last year that Uber was going to acquire its rival, however, Amazon recently led Deliveroo’s latest £452 million funding round which puts the company’s value at at least £1.5 billion, and could be even around the £3 billion
Will Shu, Deliveroo co-founder (Matt Writtle)
A new entry on the list, Graphcore was founded in Bristol in 2016 and creates semi conductor processes that accelerate machine learning and AI applications.
Earlier this year, the company raised £157 million from investors including BMW, Microsoft and Atomico, to value the company at £1.3 billion.
Fintech start-up Greensill provides supply chain finance, such as buying invoices and trade receivables for companies who want to be paid more quickly. Greensill then packages this into bonds and sells them to investors.about:blank✕
Japan’s SoftBank invested a whopping £630 million in the company earlier this year, bringing its valuation to £2.7 billion.
See more: Is the British pound a good bet?
Based near Oxford, Immunocore is focused on developing a new category of cancer drugs, named immunotherapies, which harness the immune system to destroy tumours.
In its last funding round, the company raised $40 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to propel its work into drugs for HIV and tuberculosis.https://d-1756074432213975973.ampproject.net/2108192119000/frame.html
Improbable is one of the UK’s most exciting companies, thanks to its cloud-based technology Spatial OS, which allows it to run virtual worlds on thousands of machines. Yep, just like The Matrix.
Last year, it received nearly £40 million in investment from Chinese tech company NetEase, bringing its valuation up to around £1.5 billion.
Fintech darling Monzo, of the hot coral cards fame, reached unicorn status last year after closing an £85 million funding round. At the time, founder and CEO Tom Blomfield, told the Standard, that it was “dangerous to see investment as an achievement.”
“We were more excited internally about hitting one million customers – that was a sign to us that a million people were using this product that we created,” he said.
Monzo recently hit the two million customer milestone.
A challenger bank like Monzo, OakNorth is focused on business banking. The company has developed its own AI software, which uses data to empower lenders to offer finance to small and medium businesses.
Earlier this year, it raised nearly £350 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, putting its valuation at £2.2 billion.
11. Oxford Nanopore Technologies
Launch in 2005, Oxford Nanopore makes portable gene-reading machines that can carry out biological analysis in real-time wherever you are.
The low-cost device, named MinION, is for people working in scientific and research situations, such as environmental monitoring.
In its latest funding round, it was valued at £1.5 billion and is planning to go public next year.
12. Ovo Energy
One of the new breed of energy tech companies, Ovo took a £200 million investment from Mitsubishi earlier this year to value the company at around £1 billion.
Ovo provides energy to customers in the UK and Germany and has an intelligent energy arm, named Kaluza, which will develop software and hardware to help bill-payers keep their electricity bills down and support the integration of electric vehicles and battery storage on the grid.https://d-1756074432213975973.ampproject.net/2108192119000/frame.html
One of only two North-based unicorns on the list, Radius Payment Solutions offers fuel cards for businesses – payment card specifically for use for diesel and gas.
It has also branched out to offer insurance products to its 200,000+ customers across 14 countries.
Radius is worth £800 million ($1 billion).
Monzo’s major competitor Revolut raised £179 million last year in Series C funding to make it worth £1.2 billion.
The fintech allows its customers to spend abroad in over 150 currencies with no fees and has nearly 2 million customers across the UK and Europe.
This valuation could change soon as it is apparently looking to raise around £400 million this year.
15. Sum Up
Mobile payments company Sum Up creates card readers, similar to Square and iZettle, that make it easier and cheaper from small businesses to take card payments.
Earlier this year, it acquired an e-commerce platform Shoplo and confirmed that it was worth over $1 billion, but didn’t specify the valuation.
16. The Hut Group
The only other Northern unicorn, e-commerce company The Hut Group owns brands including LookFantastic, My Protein, Zavvi and Illamasqua.
Last year, the company was valued at £4 billion and has recently added companies including luxury natural hair care brand Christophe Robin to its roster.
The original fintech, Transferwise was started in London by two Estonian developers, Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, after feeling frustrated at the costs involved with international money transfers.
The company has gone from strength to strength and is now worth £3 billion.
Source: Evening Standard