According to a recent report produced for London Tech Week, the UK technology (tech) sector produced 13 so-called ‘unicorn’ businesses, which are firms worth more than £784 million, in 2018, taking its overall total to 72.
The data found that the UK has created more tech unicorns than any other country in the world, apart from the US and China, and it is home to more than one-third of Europe’s fastest-growing tech firms.
Unsurprisingly, London is leading digital growth across the EU, with 45 unicorns, which include 18 fintech (financial technology) businesses which have brought in 13 per cent of the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP). Meanwhile, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Edinburgh are all home to at least two tech unicorns.
Commentators claim that the report provides a measure of the health and strength of the tech start-up sector, with one claiming that the rising unicorn population is evidence of an increasingly fertile environment for young businesses.
There is also evidence that there are a number of businesses in the unicorn pipeline, with 75 more firms currently being valued at £198 million or more.
However, critics claim that Brexit could scupper the chances of a higher unicorn population, and, while fintech is strong, other start-ups could struggle. For example, entrepreneurs working on Artificial intelligence (AI) for driverless cars could find it difficult to scale up as car production rates decrease in the UK.
Having said this, other commentators are more optimistic, with one pointing out that Manchester is strong on e-commerce and Belfast is performing above average on cybersecurity.
Jon Stocker, Partner at Milsted Langdon said: “The report shows that the UK technology sector is thriving, with these latest ‘unicorn’ businesses meaning the UK has created more than any other country in the world apart from China and the US.
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