UK tech investment jumps 44%, despite Brexit uncertainty

The country has sprouted eight unicorns in the past year – more than any other European nation

Investment in the UK's tech sector outstripped both the US and China in 2019 ,with 44% growth year-on-year, according to research. 

Venture capital investment leapt to a record high of $13.2 billion (£11.7 billion) in 2019, according to figures from Tech Nation and Dealroom, which is an increase of $4.1 billion (£3.6 billion) compared to the previous year.  

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The numbers paint a healthy picture of the UK's digital sector, which many thought would struggle with the uncertainty of Brexit but in the past 12 months secured 33% of all tech investment in Europe

2019 also saw eight UK tech companies became unicorns – companies valued at $1 billion or above – which is twice the number created in Germany and three times as many as France. What's more, the number of early-stage investments grew by 20% with $5.1 billion (£4.5 billion) going to UK startups. 

"As we head into a new decade, we want to keep up this momentum ensuring the tech sector flourishes right across the country, helping more entrepreneurs turn their ideas into business successes and strengthening the nation's digital skills," said Matt Warman, the UK's minister for Digital and Broadband. 

Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates, welcomed the news by praising the UK's tech startups, but warned that securing an additional £3.1 billion in a year "defined by political turmoil" was not a clear indication of long-term national economic output.  "The tech start-ups and scale-ups in Britain stand at the forefront of innovation on the world stage and have again claimed the lion's share of VC investment heading into Europe from the US and increasingly Asia," Shaw told IT Pro "I will caution that there are challenges to come for UK tech. Boris Johnson will need to negotiate a favourable trade deal on services with the EU whilst the tech community at large campaigns for free movement of labour to help keep the talent pipeline flowing." 

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