Top 10 startup stories of 2021

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Laptop Weekly’s startup protection in 2021 was formed by long-term however erratically distributed success of the UK’s startup ecosystem, in addition to its partial restoration from the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

For instance, whereas many tales touched on the record-setting funding raised by UK tech startups, others confirmed this funding was extremely concentrated in a comparatively small variety of London-based scaleup corporations.
Regardless of the long-term development of the ecosystem – with one tech enterprise being created each half-hour – the federal government was additionally pressured to take fairness stakes in additional than 150 startups on account of the pandemic.
Different tales targeted on particular corporations, akin to Glitch which signed a collective bargaining settlement with its white-collar staff, and people working to attain the United Nations’ Sustainable Improvement Targets (SDGs).

1. London received quarter of all European tech funding in 2020

On the very begin of the 12 months, it was revealed that London-based technology startups received $10.5bn of venture capital (VC) funding in 2020, accounting for 1 / 4 of all European tech funding.
The analysis, performed by market intelligence agency Dealroom and funding company London & Companions, confirmed {that a} vital chunk of the funding, $4.3bn, went to London’s monetary expertise (fintech) corporations, whereas $1.9bn went to corporations creating enterprise software program applied sciences – an 82% enhance on the earlier 12 months.
The figures marked a big enhance from the capital raised by London corporations in 2017 and 2018 – $7bn and $5.9bn, respectively – and got here near eclipsing the document $10.7bn raised in 2019.

2. UK ‘impact startups’ raise £2bn in 2021

UK expertise startups addressing a number of of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) raised £2bn in 2021, up from £1.7bn in 2020
Funding in these corporations, often known as “influence startups”, has elevated by 127% since 2018, and the UK now has practically 900 startups and scaleups working throughout a variety of applied sciences.
These corporations have a mixed value of £50bn and make use of greater than 35,000 folks, with many of the capital raised going to corporations engaged on clear power and different local weather change-related applied sciences.
Collectively, local weather tech corporations make up 65% of the offers signed by influence startups all through 2021. Amongst these are corporations akin to inexperienced power supplier Octopus power, which raised the most important funding spherical of any influence startup at £438m; electrical automobile subscription platform ONTO, which raised £130m; and waste administration and recycling agency Plastic Power, which raised £123m.
Exterior of local weather tech, various UK influence startups are how expertise may help clear up international well being issues. BenevolentAI, for instance, makes use of massive information and deep studying to find more practical medicines, whereas Huma allows distant affected person monitoring to scale back hospital readmission charges in international locations together with the UK and Germany.

3. Glitch signs collective bargaining agreement with unionised workers

Workers at software program startup Glitch signed a collective bargaining agreement with the company via their union, which claimed it was the primary time such a deal has been signed by white-collar tech staff within the US.
The settlement, which took impact on 28 February 2021 and can final 11 months, got here a 12 months after Glitch’s workforce voted to unionise underneath the Communications Staff of America’s (CWA) Native 1101 department in March 2020.
The trouble to convey Glitch staff into the CWA was a part of the union’s Marketing campaign to Manage Digital Workers (CODE-CWA), which launched in January 2020 to assist staff within the tech trade construct up their energy.
Though the settlement – which is a authorized contract between the union and Glitch – doesn’t embody something about greater wages, that are “already beneficiant” in accordance with a union spokesperson, it does embody necessary protections for staff.

4. UK technology business created every 30 minutes in 2020

A new technology business was created every half an hour during 2020, with practically 19,500 registering in whole throughout the UK, trade figures revealed in March 2021.
Knowledge analysed by trade physique Tech Nation for the Division of Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport (DCMS) – primarily based on figures supplied by the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics (ONS) and Corporations Home – confirmed that 19,465 new companies have been registered within the info and communication sector between January and December 2020.
The rise within the variety of expertise companies coincided with a document 12 months for enterprise capital (VC) funding, which noticed UK-based expertise corporations increase a complete of $15bn – a big proportion of the $43.1bn raised by European corporations all through 2020. Nonetheless, many of the capital raised by UK corporations ($10.5bn) went to these in London.

5. One-fifth of all UK tech investment went to just 10 scaleup firms in 2020

In line with Tech Nation’s seventh annual report, just 10 technology scaleups received one-fifth of all UK venture capital (VC) investment during 2020.
Funding within the UK tech sector hit $15bn in 2020 – $200m greater than the earlier document set in 2019 – however about 20% ($3.5bn) went to only 10 scaleups, eight of that are London-based.
Solely e-commerce enterprise Gymshark and semiconductor producer Graphcore are situated exterior the capital, in Solihull and Bristol, respectively.
Seven of those corporations – Octopus Power, Arrival, Cazoo, Gymshark, infobip, Gousto and Hopin – reached unicorn standing in 2020, which suggests they’re now every valued at greater than $1bn.

6. UK tech sector grows tenfold in 10 years

The UK’s expertise sector has seen a tenfold increase in both venture capital investment and the number of billion-dollar “unicorn” companies (these valued at greater than $1bn) over the previous decade, in accordance with figures launched in Could by the federal government’s Digital Financial system Council and
Between 2010 and 2020, funding within the UK’s tech trade grew from £1.2bn to £11.3bn, with most of this enhance going down since 2015 when funding was £4.1bn.
There has additionally been a tenfold enhance within the variety of unicorns, which elevated from eight in 2010 to 81 by the top of 2020. An additional 10 unicorns have been created between the beginning of 2021 and Could.
Out of those unicorns, 32 have been fintech corporations, 14 targeted on enterprise software program and 13 have been in well being tech – sectors which have persistently attracted probably the most capital over the previous decade.

7. UK government takes equity shares in more than 150 startups

Knowledge from the British Enterprise Financial institution launched in September revealed that the UK government has taken stakes in 158 high-growth startups after its Covid help loans transformed into fairness.
Launched in April 2020 by finance minister Rishi Sunak to help startups and loss-making corporations with the funding wanted to remain afloat throughout the pandemic, the Future Fund scheme’s funding got here within the type of convertible mortgage notes, giving the UK authorities fairness shares within the enterprise when the funding is transformed.
Tech-related corporations on the record embody Vaccitech plc, which co-invented the Covid-19 vaccine with the College of Oxford; Century Tech, an schooling platform that makes use of synthetic intelligence (AI) to personalise studying for kids; gig ticketing app Cube FM; and Ripple Power, which permits prospects to purchase shares in wind farms.
In line with British Enterprise Financial institution CEO Catherine Lewis La Torre, the Future Fund was integral to making sure funding continued flowing to high-growth startups, with greater than £1bn of convertible loans being issued to almost 1,200 corporations in whole.

8. UK tech sector on track for another record year of investment

The UK is creating virtually $1bn “unicorn” expertise enterprise per week after inflow of £13.5bn enterprise capital (VC) funding within the first six months of the 12 months, setting the tech sector up for another record year of investment in 2021.
The UK is now house to 105 unicorns, 20 of which reached unicorn standing within the first six months of 2021 alone, together with Tractable, Zego and Depop. By comparability, Tech Nation claims it took from 1990 to 2014 for the UK to create its first 20 unicorns.
From these 20 corporations, 11 are monetary expertise (fintech) corporations, which as a subsector attracted £4.2bn of the full raised. After fintech, healthtech attracted the second highest quantity (£2.7bn), adopted by enterprise software program (£1.3bn) and transportation (£1.1bn).
The variety of potential future unicorns additionally elevated, from 132 corporations in Could 2021 to 153 within the newest figures.

9. UK government announces safety tech challenge fund winners

The UK authorities introduced the 5 winners of its Safety Tech Challenge Fund, who will every obtain £85,000 to assist them advance their technical proposals for brand new digital instruments and functions to cease the unfold of kid sexual abuse materials (CSAM) in encrypted communications.
Launched in September 2021, the problem fund is designed to spice up innovation in AI and different applied sciences that may scan, detect and flag unlawful baby abuse imagery with out breaking end-to-end encryption (E2EE).
The fund is being administered by the Division for Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport and the Dwelling Workplace, which is able to make further funding of £130,000 out there to the strongest tasks after 5 months.
Digital minister Chris Philp instructed Laptop Weekly that CSAM-scanning was the one inherent use of the applied sciences, and that the federal government wouldn’t mandate its use past this goal.

10. Tech startups turn to digital PR platform for media exposure

Early-stage expertise startups within the UK are utilizing digital public relations (PR) platform Newspage to assist enhance media visibility and safe additional funding.
Conceived throughout the UK’s first nationwide lockdown, Newspage allows startups to create and disseminate their very own publicity with out the involvement of pricey PR businesses whose prices are prohibitive to many early-stage startups.
Whereas Newspage is designed to be used by any small companies working within the UK, the newest vertical its founders are concentrating on is expertise startups.
“I’ve labored with tons of tech startups which might be bootstrapping and have hardly any money – they arrive to see PR businesses, it’s £1,000 a day and even £500 a day, however its past their finances. Till they get an angel funding or VC [venture capital] backing, they’re off the radar,” mentioned co-founder Dominic Hiatt.
He added that the underlying idea of Newspage is to be a “port” for connecting media and information organisations with tales that will in any other case be troublesome to seek out, and that for startups themselves the platform may help them increase cash by means of elevated visibility.

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