Entrepreneurs

Meet The UK’s Next 15 Unicorns

A near 10-fold increase in technology sector investment over the past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the number of unicorn companies valued at more than $1bn in the UK – and dozens more are now poised to follow in their wake. New data from Dealroom and the Digital Economy Council reveals more than 100 UK companies now have a credible chance of securing a $1bn valuation in the near future.

The figures show that between 2010 and the end of 2020, the number of unicorns in the UK increased from just eight to 81, as businesses such as Betfair, Admiral Group and Ocado became household names. Over the same period, however, the number of “futurecorns” – those companies with the potential to become unicorns – increased from 10 to 126.

This rapid growth reflects a huge increase in the investment going into the UK tech sector. In 2010, venture capital investors put £1.2bn into the sector, the data from Dealroom shows; last year, the equivalent figure was £11.3bn.

The result is that the UK has accelerated ahead of its European counterparts as a marketplace for large tech companies, and is closing the gap to the US and China. France, for example, went from having no unicorn companies to 17 over the same period, while Germany went from one to 31. Dealroom and the Digital Economy Council estimate that the UK is now fourth in the world on the number of technology start-ups and unicorns created, with only California’s Bay Area, New York and Beijing having a better record.

Moreover, the pace of the UK’s tech growth appears to be picking up, with a surge already recorded in 2021. Already this year, the number of UK unicorn businesses has increased by 10 to 91, while the number of futurecorns is up six to 132.

“The rate of growth in the UK tech ecosystem in the last 10 years has been immense and we are confident that there is more to come,” says Stephen Kelly, chair of the industry group Tech Nation. “That the UK now has more futurecorns than France and Germany combined which demonstrates the extent to which the UK is leading Europe.”

To identify futurecorns, the research conducted by Dealroom and the Digital Economy Council focuses on companies that currently have a value of between $250m and $1bn and are therefore on a path to unicorn status. On that basis, the top 15 futurecorns identified in the research are:

1. Zopa – digital bank

2. Moonbug – global kids entertainment company

3. Atom Bank – the UK’s first neobank

4. Wejo – global leader in connected car data

5. Vashi – ethically-sourced engagement rings and fine jewellery

6. Gigaclear – rural broadband provider

7. Bloom & Wild – direct to consumer letterbox flowers

8. Truphone – global leader in digital connectivity software

9. Zilch – buy now pay later fintech provider

10. Tripledot Studios – mobile gaming company

11. Gryphon Group Holdings – insurtech revolutionising family insurance

12. Pollinate – fintech giving banks a modern toolkit for small businesses

13. Agriprotein – creates insect-based protein to replace fishmeal

14. Bulb – renewable energy provider

15. Thought Machine – next-generation core banking platforms

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