Monday 20 June 2016 6:38 am

London continues reign as unicorn startup capital of Europe

London is home to more so-called tech unicorns than any other country in Europe adding two new startups to the billion-dollar stable over the past year.

The capital is now home to 14 companies with the sky-high valuation, double the number of the next closest country, Sweden, which is home to seven.

The UK is home to another four unicorns outside the capital, bringing the total number of billion dollar companies to 18.

Blippar, the augmented reality company which secured millions more in investment in March, has joined the ranks along with the Yorkshire-founded business planning software business Anaplan.

Read more: Rarer than a unicorn? This venture capital firm just floated in London

The collapse of unicorn Powa earlier this year failed to dent the UK's dominance in the annual ranking from GP Bullhound as London Tech Week starts, however, their combined value slipped slightly lower from $40.4bn (£28.1bn) to $39.6bn. 

The total number of unicorns jumped from 40 to 47 across the continent and their combined value jumped from $120bn to $130bn, while the average valuation increased from £2.1bn to $2.8bn. However, there was also a slowdown, after a bumper year the previous year when nearly twice as many, 13, were created.

Spotify overtook Skype to become the most valuable tech unicorn in Europe, while Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland joined the ranks for the first time.

Read more: The six ways tech will change our lives in the next 20 years

"There has never been a better time to operate within the European market," said GP Bullhound managing partner Manish Madhvani.

"I firmly believe that the right ecosystem exists for one of the companies highlighted in this report to push forward and reach a $10bn valuation in the next few years, and over time a $100bn valuation," he predicts.


The so-called decacorn is now the more mythical beast as unicorn valuations become more common. GP Bullhound identified four firms which it predicts will surpass the $10bn decacorn valuation in the coming years. 

StartupFoundedannual growthValuationLocation
Hello Fresh2011+379%$2.9bnGermany


Some 12 tech startups have also been identified as unicorns of the future, including food delivery firm Deliveroo, online retailer The Hut and fintech firm WorldRemit in the UK.

The HutUK

​Sustainable valuations

Despite the surprise collapse of Powa in the UK, the research identifies that European unicorns – or Eunicorns – are more sustainable businesses with investors looking for a higher bar to investment.

US valuations are higher compared to European ones, on average but the reverse is true when it comes to revenue.

The average revenue of European unicorns is almost three times as high as their US counterparts – $315m compared to $129m, the report notes – and Europe's are valued at 18 times revenue, compared to 46 times revenue in the US.

Read more: Last year’s cohort shows UK unicorns are real deal

It also found that 60 per cent of European unicorns are profitable while 40 per cent have yet to turn a profit.

"Europe has yet to reach the dizzying heights of American giants such as Facebook and Google, but when you look at businesses in the $1bn to $3bn range, what we lack in quantity we more than make up for in terms of quality," said Manesh.

"All the data points towards a stable, maturing market that has avoided the excesses of the US in favour of sustainable growth. We are seeing a remarkable resilience in European technology markets.”