The UK tech sector raised £13.5bn in the first six months of this year, almost three times more than the same period a year ago, according to new data. As a result, the number of British unicorns has jumped to 105.
Companies including fintech giant Revolut, online video conference business Hopin and online car sales platform Cinch were major contributors to the record-breaking investment.
The UK’s Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation by Dealroom, which crunched the numbers, said it means the UK in on course to make 2021 the biggest year for tech investment ever.
During the first six months of the year the biggest fundraising rounds included Revolut raising £577m, Cinch with £1bn, cybersecurity platform Snyk raising £289 million and Hopin banking £289m to make it Europe’s fastest-growing tech company.
The details come ahead of London Tech Week and the Government hopes to use the data to showcase the country’s position as Europe’s tech centre.
According to the data, more than 1,400 UK tech companies have benefited from the £13.5bn raised and the investment is more than double that achieved in the next biggest market – Germany, which managed to raise £6.2bn.
The UK now has 105 unicorns – businesses worth more than 1 billion dollars (£720 million) – with 20 created in the past six months alone including Tractable, Zego and Depop.
By comparison, it took 24 years – from 1990 to 2014 – to create the UK’s first 20 unicorns. The UK also has £7.2bn tech companies, with seven created this year alone.
Gerard Grech, founding chief executive of Tech Nation, said: “The UK tech industry is on course for another record high in terms of investment in 2021.”
“The success of established companies like Wise, Darktrace and Depop show there is a clear pathway for UK tech companies to make an impact on a global scale.”
Fintech firms are particularly popular in the UK, due to the strong banking industry already in place in the country.
According to Tech Nation, 11 of the 20 companies that became unicorns in the first six months of 2021 were in fintech, with Revolut leading the way, valued at £23bn.
Healthtech is the second largest area of growth, particularly during the pandemic, followed by transportation tech firms.
London continues to attract the most venture capital cash, followed by Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham and Cambridge.
In Scotland, start-ups raised £53.5 million this year, including £35.9 million for alternative protein company Enough and a seed round by the on-demand workspace platform Desana.io.
Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook vice president for Europe, Middle East and Asia, and member of the Digital Economy Council, said: “The UK tech sector is fast maturing and the country now has leadership status alongside Silicon Valley and China.
“This is an exciting time to be part of this industry and we should be encouraging talented young people to understand that the best careers of the future can be found in those companies that are creating innovative products and services that help businesses and individuals.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been pushing hard for the UK to emerge from Brexit as a tech centre.
He said: “Our tech revolution is creating jobs, driving growth and boosting investment across the country.
“We have a number of cities firmly on the map as tech hubs and new companies springing up at a rapid pace.”
New Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “As Digital Secretary, I’m going to push our pro-tech agenda to even greater heights and make sure every corner of the UK benefits from the tech revolution.”