UK first in Europe to reach 100 tech unicorns

Fintech firm Tractable is the 100th startup to reach a $1bn valuation, according to Tech Nation

A black and white photo of a unicorn statue

The UK has recorded its 100th tech firm to be valued at $1 billion or more, according to research from Dealroom and Tech Nation.

The milestone means that there are more than double the number of unicorn companies in the UK than its closest European rival Germany, which currently has 42 unicorn startups, and is only behind the US and China internationally.

The UK had 70 startups valued at $1 billion as of 2019, with 30 more added over the course of the pandemic and 13 of those reaching the valuation in 2021. In 2017, there were just 44 tech unicorns in the UK, which represents a 127% increase over four years.

The majority of the startups, 34%, are fintech companies, with 14% in healthcare, 8% in travel and transport technology, and 4% in gaming. The country's 100th unicorn is Tractable, a fintech that builds digital tools, having raked in $60 million in a recent funding round.

"Tractable is a UK success story, built by people who studied AI at British universities, and joined together at Entrepreneur First, a UK programme for scaling great companies," the firm's CEO, Alex Dalyac, said. "While most of our 200 staff are located in the UK, over 90% of our revenues are generated abroad, and we count over 25 of the world's largest insurers as our customers. We're proud to be the UK's latest unicorn, and the world's first computer vision unicorn for financial services."

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The UK's biggest unicorns are currently analytics firm Market, valued at $41.3bn, payment platform Wordplay, valued at $39.1bn, and semiconductor giant Arm, which is valued at 36.4bn. The startups that became unicorns in 2021 include Starling Bank, digital price comparison site Bought By Many and connected car firm Wejo.

The sheer number of unicorns is a good measure of the overall health of the UK tech economy, with these startups raising €13.2bn ($14.5bn) since the start of the year, beating the previous record of €8.1B ($8.9bn).

"With UK tech unicorn creation growing by 127% over the last 3 years, it's clear that the UK tech sector has become a rapidly growing hub for unicorns, culminating in 100 companies with unicorn status today," said Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech Nation.

"It's a privilege to have worked closely with many of these inspiring companies, helping them navigate scaling challenges as they continue to transform every corner of UK industry."

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