UK tech sector surged by 44% in 2019, outpacing US and China

Edmund HeaphyFinance and news reporter
A viev over the skyscrapers of the City of London and the River Themes in London, United Kingdom on 11 December, 2019. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A viev over the skyscrapers of the City of London and the River Themes in London, United Kingdom on 11 December, 2019. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Venture capital investment in UK tech companies surged by 44% in 2019, meaning that growth in the country’s technology sector continues to outpace that of the US, China, Germany, and France.

New data prepared for the government’s Digital Economy Council shows that around £10.1bn ($13.2bn) was invested in companies in the sector last year, which accounts for around a third of all technology investment in Europe.

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The data, compiled by Tech Nation and Dealroom.co, also shows that the UK produces twice as many unicorns — companies with valuations in excess of £1bn — than Germany, and three times as many as France.

2019 was the third year in a row that growth in venture capital investment exceeded 40%.

Early stage investment rounds climbed by 20% in 2019, while investment in more mature companies doubled.

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Five companies raised more than $250m in 2019, including Checkout.com, the London-based payments startup that is now worth more than $2bn.

The data, the council said, also suggests the UK is now behind just the US and China in terms of total venture capital investment.

Companies in London raised £7.4bn in 2019, meaning that the UK capital now sits alongside the San Francisco Bay Area, Beijing and New York on the list of the world’s most-funded locations.

London is also the leading city for unicorns in the UK, and has produced 46 over the past three decades.

In the same period, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Bristol produced a combined total of 20.

Fintech was the best-performing sub-sector, according to the data. UK fintech firms raised £4.1bn last year, three times as much as those in Germany.

“These brilliant new numbers demonstrate the strength of the UK tech industry and how it is a sweet spot of our economy,” said digital secretary Nick Morgan on Wednesday.

“Our tech companies are not only commanding the confidence of global investors but they are also creating new jobs and wealth across the country,” Morgan said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that London’s tech sector was “a global success story.”

“Our city is the undisputed tech capital of Europe and the record $9.7bn of investment in this sector clearly shows London open to talent and investment from all over the world,” he said.

“London’s successful digital economy is not only an important source of jobs for Londoners but is also bringing prosperity and growth to the rest of the UK.”

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