UK tech investors last year created eight tech ‘unicorns’- or businesses with a worth of than one billion US dollars – says new industry insight.

These unicorns formed part of a UK tech sector which last year secured a total £10.1bn ($13.2bn) investment, £3.1bn more than in 2018.

The new figures are the result of research by government-backed network for tech entrepreneurs Tech Nation and business database Dealroom.co for the Digital Economy Council.

Unicorns

Eight new billion-dollar companies, or unicorns, were created in the UK in 2019 as part of those investments, bringing its total to 77.

The  unicorns created in 2019 include London ‘FinTech-as-a-service’ platform Rapyd, which last year closed a $100m funding round and Cambridge-based medical robotics firm CMR Surgical which announced a £195m raise.

The UK’s new unicorns also includes London-based AI-powered HealthTech firm Babylon Health, which secured $550m last year, and Sumup, a mobile payments firm headquartered in London.

Also taking the moniker are FinTech payments firm Checkout.com, which raised a record $230m in May 2019, alongside Acuris, Trainline, and OVO Energy.

Investment

The research suggest that the UK’s tech sector growth outpaced that of the US and China, which both saw a decrease in investment during 2019.

As a result of the growth, the UK received more investment than Germany and France combined, and about one third of total investment in Europe in 2019.

Venture capital (VC) investments also increased in 2019, as 44 per cent more was secured than in 2018.

The UK now sits behind only the US and China in global VC funding charts, but even with a 20 per cent fall in investment, the US still has a comfortable lead having reached $116bn.

By city, London follows only New York, Bejing, and the San Francisco’s Bay Area, which is home to Silicon Valley.

Almost half of all UK tech sector investments last year were international, primarily from North American and Asia.

The report suggests that the UK has a wider mix of investors than that of Germany or France, with only $3.8bn investment coming from the UK.

“Our tech companies are not only commanding the confidence of global investors but they are also creating new jobs and wealth across the country,” said Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan, who visited Tech Nation last week.

“It’s absolutely vital we maintain this impressive success and in Government we are working tirelessly to make sure the conditions are right.”