This piece is an accompaniment to our newly launched ranking of UK startups and scaleups to watch for 2022. Check it out in full here.
The reference point of Europe’s tech landscape, the UK tops virtually every chart and metric of the region’s startup universe.
Its 48 private unicorns and 40k startups get the most funding, close the most deals and realise the most exits out of any other country across the continent. It’s an increasingly mature tech space capable of pulling its weight against other global ecosystems.
The latest from the UK startup ecosystem
While growth rates have slowed down in line with global market turmoil, the UK’s ecosystem value jumped 42.8% in 2021 and is steadily approaching $1tn — as much as Germany, France and Sweden combined, and third worldwide, according to Dealroom.
Much of its worth resides in London, however. Europe’s financial powerhouse has welcomed 63.5% of all UK funding in 2021, largely fuelled by fintech megarounds and international injections. In 2021, the capital shone as the fourth-most active tech city in the world.
Along with foreign investment, talent strategies have been key for the UK’s success. Around 80 startups have been founded elsewhere and later moved main headquarters to the region, including unicorns Wise and Zego (coming from Tallinn), HiBob and Rapyd (Tel Aviv), Payhawk (Sofia) and Infobip (Zagreb).
Elsewhere in the UK, Scotland has witnessed some major growth in 2021, racking up $704m in funding over the year — a 67% increase from 2020 — as well as $300m so far in 2022.
Scotland-based Paysend, Amphista and ENOUGH have gathered some heavy Series B rounds to help pump fresh funding into the country.
On the other hand, Wales and Northern Ireland have been performing below the European average. A £27m Series A from Welsh neobank ANNA Money accounted for around 25% of total funding for the year, while Cumulus Neuroscience gathered £6.8m in Northern Ireland’s largest 2021 round.
But the incoming generation of startups is well equipped to follow up on expectations and give London a run for its money. Sifted ranked the most promising among them in a weighted selection of new entries, older faces and fast-growing hits.
Some new entries: ENOUGH, Weavr.io, Uncapped, Yapily, Pocket FM, DNANudge, 5ire, Omnipresent
Some UK soonicorns: Tide, Beamery, Primary Bid, Quell Therapeutics, Paysend, 10x Banking, Multiverse, Pollinate
Some goodbyes: We bid farewell to a significant share of our 2021 ranking, as companies including Starling Bank, Thought Machine, Britishvolt, TrueLayer and Zilch passed the $1bn mark last year and graduated to our unicorns ranking.
Federico Scolari is junior intelligence analyst at Sifted.