In June the UK tech sector reached new heights with 100 UK tech companies valued at $1bn or more, according to new data from Dealroom and Tech Nation.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Smashing through this milestone cements the UK’s place as one of the world’s top tech hubs.

“The government is backing our brilliant innovators and entrepreneurs by investing in world-class digital infrastructure and people’s skills, so that we can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and level up opportunity across the country.”

The UK’s 100th tech unicorn, Tractable, an AI startup building computer vision tools, and a member of Tech Nation’s late-stage Future Fifty programme,  announced a $60 million Series D raise, that takes the company’s valuation to $1 billion. 

Tractable joins the likes of travel search engine, Skyscanner, from Scotland, Durham-based challenger bank, Atom Bank, and Cambridge-based Darktrace, who utilise AI to develop cyber security solutions.

Number of tech unicorns in the UK, France and Germany (2000-2021). Source: Dealroom.co


UK tech unicorn creation reflects the rapid growth of the tech sector. So far in 2021, 13 UK tech unicorns have already been created, compared to 7 in the whole of 2020, and UK tech unicorn creation has increased by 127% since 2017, when the UK was home to 44 tech unicorns. 

Yoram Wijngaarde, Founder and CEO, Dealroom, said: “The UK has just passed a major milestone. Only three countries have created unicorns in triple figures: the US, China and the UK. The raw unicorn figures can be a sign of a maturing ecosystem, but there is also no let up in pace. Europe is an entrepreneurial hotbed attracting international investor attention, with 2021 investment already breaking all records. The 2021 Unicorn Founders Club will be welcoming new members before long.”

VC investment in UK tech companies by stage of investment (2011-2021). Source: Dealroom.co

Collectively, the UK’s 100 tech unicorns have raised almost $32bn (€28.9bn) in VC investment, across multiple tech sub-sectors, including e-commerce, insurtech, and cyber security and energy. 34% of UK tech unicorns are fintech companies, 14% healthtech, 8% travel and transport tech, 5% foodtech and 4% gaming. 

The UK now joins the US and China as the only nations to have triple digit tech unicorns globally, and is the first country in Europe to reach 100 tech unicorns, with more tech unicorns than Germany (42), France (22) and the Netherlands (18) combined.

These high levels of tech unicorn creation reflect the continued strength of the UK tech sector, which reached record highs in the first half of this year. UK tech startups have raised €13.2bn ($14.5bn) since the start of the year, beating the previous record of €8.1B ($8.9bn) (H2 2020), with two weeks still left to go.

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