Tech Nation, a scaleup accelerator, has announced the release of its annual Tech Nation Report, the ultimate state-of-the-nation report on the UK tech sector.
In its 7th year, the report lifts the lid on tech in an extraordinary 2020, revealing how the sector has changed, who the top performers were through the year, and the challenges and opportunities the UK faces as it navigates out of the pandemic and leaving the EU.
Gerard Grech, founding chief executive, Tech Nation, said: “This year has highlighted the UK tech sector’s enormous resilience and world-beating innovative spirit. In the face of a major global crisis, it has not only survived; in many areas, it has boomed. From EdTech to HealthTech, tech scaleups are at the centre of rebuilding the British economy and setting new standards worldwide.
“Now the focus turns to the future, as the UK pivots to a wider global role. Developing Britain’s AI-powered deep-tech is especially critical. Much of our future economy will be built on this new technology that leverages machine learning for faster innovation. Bold investment is needed in R&D to boost Britain’s new deep-tech companies and ensure our global competitiveness.
“These are truly exciting times for UK tech. The successes of the past decade have shown what the UK is capable of when policy foresight, investment and a diverse and ambitious pool of talent come together. By continuing to set our sights high, the next decade promises to be the most innovative yet.”
In 2020, the UK tech scaleup ecosystem continued its strong growth. Valued at $585billion, startups and scaleups more than doubled (120 per cent) their collective value since 2017. In comparison, the next most valuable European scaleup ecosystem, Germany, was valued at $291bn. Driving UK tech into new heights in 2020 were 10 superstar scaleups, which between them secured 20 per cent of total UK tech VC investment, at $3.5bn:
- Revolut – Fintech – £580million in funding
- Octopus Energy – Energy – £577million in funding
- Ki – Insurtech – £500million in funding
- Arrival – Transportation – £400million in funding
- Karma Kitchen – Real estate; food -£333million in funding
- Cazoo – Transport Tech – £310million in funding
- Gymshark – Fashion/e-commerce – £264million in funding
- Graphcore – Semiconductors – £222million in funding
- Infobip – Marketing; enterprise software – £200million in funding
- Zenobe Energy – Energy, transportation – £198million in funding
Octopus Energy, Arrival, Cazoo, Gymshark, infobip, Gousto and Hopin were the seven unicorns to make it into the unicorn class of 2020, bringing the UK’s total unicorn count in 2020 to 80. An additional 6 unicorns have already been created so far in 2021, Blockchain, Kymab, PPRO, Touchlight Genetics, Starling Bank and Zego. Hopin, the online events platform which raised $150million in 2020, has gone on to raise a further $400million Series C round from US VC, Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst with a valuation of $5.65billion.
Fintech challenger, Revolut, and insurance platform, Ki, helped to cement the UK’s position globally for fintech and insurtech. Revolut raised $580 million over the course of 2020, while Ki raised $500 million in its bid to redefine the commercial insurance market.
Nik Storonsky, CEO and co-founder of Revolut said: “Tech Nation’s annual report highlights the richness of the UK tech landscape and the record investment in the sector. At Revolut, we’re honoured to be successful among such original and entrepreneurial businesses. But all of our successes owe much to the dynamism of the UK tech ecosystem that attracts exceptional talent and patient investment from the UK and around the world.
“In this extraordinary year, every business has faced exceptional challenges as we and our customers dealt with the global pandemic. As our customers embraced digital spending and account management, we switched to truly virtual operations, learning as we went and ending the year as a faster and more productive business than we started. We launched Revolut in the US, in Australia and in Japan. We added new products that our 15 million customers use every day. And we accelerated along our path to building a financial superapp that makes our customers’ lives ten times easier as they use Revolut for all things money, from savings to spending, rewards and more.”