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,, 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.

See more: Instant payment transaction values to exceed $27 trillion globally by 2026

Here are the 17 UK tech unicorns to know

1. BenevolentAI

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.


Payments software 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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3. Darktrace

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's CEO Poppy Gustafsson
Darktrace’s CEO Poppy Gustafsson / Darktrace

Darktrace is worth nearly £1.3 billion after only five years.

4. Deliveroo

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

Matt Writtle

Will Shu, Deliveroo co-founder (Matt Writtle)

5. Graphcore

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.

6. Greensill

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?

7. Immunocore

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.

8. Improbable

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.

9. Monzo

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.

Monzo's CEO Tom Blomfield
Monzo’s CEO Tom Blomfield / Monzo

10. OakNorth

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.

See more: London fintech Revolut launches new Payday feature in the UK

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.

13. Radius

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).

14. Revolut

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.

(Revolut )
(Revolut ) / Revolut

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.

17. Transferwise

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