6 UK Tech Firms Poised to Break the Billion Dollar Barrier
The United Kingdom is home to the highest number of future unicorns in Europe. That’s according to a new report by venture capital firm Creandum, drawing on data from Dealroom. While the report hails the whole of Europe as a “global tech challenger”, it highlights how the UK is surging ahead when it comes to burgeoning tech firms, with 34% of Europe’s “soonicorns” being based here.
That number is particularly impressive when we consider that the country with the next highest proportion of future unicorns, France, accounts for only 22%. What’s more, the UK has a strong track record in producing successful tech startups, bringing Europe the highest number of unicorns since 2021. In 1H2023, British startups also managed to rack up the most venture capital investment in Europe.
In a time of ongoing economic turbulence, it’s encouraging to see that there’s still great momentum within the UK tech sector. And, with that in mind, we thought it would be a good moment to look over some of the most exciting soonicorns currently operating in the country.
London-based Flo is the world’s most popular women’s health app, boasting over 280 million downloads as of the start of this year. A period tracker, ovulation calculator and pregnancy calendar, it was also the first such app to achieve ISO 27001, the internationally recognised standard for information security.
The app’s success partly rests on the highly bespoke service it provides, with its functionality including personalised graphs that chart users’ cycles, notification reminders for ovulation days and fertility windows, and health tips tailored to users’ situations. Flo has secured around $75.5 million in investment so far, and was last reported as being valued at $800 million.
We move from femtech to fintech now, with Paysend distinguishing itself as a prominent UK success story within the finance sector. The London-based payments platform, last valued at $700 million, lets users transfer money internationally in 170 countries and has over seven million users so far. The valuation is impressive considering how competitive this subsector is, with the likes of Wise and Remitly being perhaps the most well-known players in the online remittance space.
The company has secured almost $160 million to date, and recently made headlines in Ireland after announcing that it’s opening a Dublin office to “attract top talent to help drive our growth into more locations in Europe.”
Staying within fintech, Codat is another soonicorn we’re keeping an eye on. The London-based financial services firm develops API integrations for B2B businesses, with use cases including business dashboarding, loan decisioning and automatic reconciliation.
Last summer it made waves in the tech media by raising $100 million in an equity funding round led by JP Morgan Chase, bringing its valuation up to $825 million. That amounted to a precipitous 225% valuation increase in under 12 months, reflecting the excitement the platform has generated among investors. As a JP Morgan spokesperson put it, “Codat has the potential to fundamentally change the way data is shared across the small business economy.”
While the cleantech company Bboxx is headquartered in London, its focus is on Africa, where it’s championing the “economic empowerment” of the continent by tackling energy poverty – specifically, a startling paucity of access to electricity. According to Bboxx, more than 570 million people in Africa lack access, with many others having to make do with unreliable grids.
The company designs and manufactures plug and play solar systems, managed using the Bboxx Pulse operating system which utilises IoT technology to allow remote monitoring. The company says it is already positively impacting the lives of 3.5 million people with clean energy in a wide range of markets, including Rwanda and Nigeria.
If Wayve isn’t already a unicorn, it’s certainly well on course to enter that elite grouping. Last year, the London-based autonomous vehicle startup raised $200 million in a Microsoft-backed round, and while no valuation was provided by the company at the time, the move was reported in the press as being a strong indicator that Wayve is on the cusp of unicorn status.
The company creates AI software “that gives vehicles the intelligence to drive anywhere”, and enjoyed something of a PR coup earlier this year when Bill Gates took a ride through central London in one of its driverless vehicles. The Microsoft founder wrote that “it was a bit surreal to be in the car as it dodged all the traffic”, and hailed the deep learning technology that allows Wayve vehicles to “drive anywhere a human can drive”.
Having seen massive acceleration during the lockdown era, healthtech remains one of the hottest sectors with countless startups enjoying investment windfalls and soaring valuations. One star of the UK scene is Huma, whose platform allows clinicians to more easily monitor and share patient information.
Although it’s based in London, Huma has become an international player, with its remote patient monitoring software now being used in over 20 countries. Its platform connects patients with medical staff in real time, allowing constant monitoring of vital signs and creating “hospitals at home” and “virtual wards” that alleviate the burden placed on healthcare infrastructures globally.
Raising around $217 million in investment so far, Huma was valued at $593 million last year and the company says it’s making a real difference to efficiency within the NHS.