The UK, not just London, is leading the way with business unicorns

The UK is a hub for valuable startups as new research reveals that it’s home to 15 tech startups worth over $1 billion (£770 million).

Startups valued at $1 billion are known in the business world as “unicorns” and are few and far between – hence their name. However, according to the latest research from Tech Nation and venture capital analytics firm Dealroom.co, the UK’s tech scene is vibrant and plays host to fifteen of these rare companies across six major cities.

“London’s tech sector is envied across the world so it is good to see evidence of how it is producing so many fast­growing new businesses,” said London mayor Sadiq Khan earlier this year. “However, we also recognise how important it is that the capital collaborates with other cities in the UK, which are building similarly strong tech communities.”

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It’s these similarly strong tech communities that have really driven the UK’s unicorn count up. Now Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Leeds are also working to build the nation’s startup successes.

“The UK is fast becoming a network of digital excellence, with various strengths in different digital domains,” said Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech Nation. “Cities like Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge are producing significant companies including The Hut Group, Sophos, Oxford Nanopore and Darktrace.

“Increasingly these cities are competing with other tech hubs in Asia and the US and can go head­-to­head with Europe’s capitals on many measures.”

Manchester has produced five fast-growing $1 billion tech companies, which puts it on a par with Amsterdam. Oxford hosts nine unicorns, beating Paris’s five and the entirety of Belgium, which has eight. Edinburgh, meanwhile, counts SkyScanner and data-consultancy group Wood Mackenzie as unicorns, helping to spread the success into Scotland.

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“The UK’s track record in creating fast­ growing tech companies is second to none in Europe,” said Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. “These new statistics show Manchester and Edinburgh are now competing on a global scale and stellar tech firms are growing right across the country, spreading new jobs and investment.

“Through our Digital and Industrial Strategies, we are creating the conditions to start up and grow brilliant tech ideas into world­-beating global businesses and pushing the boundaries of science to change people’s lives for the better.”

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