UK is 1st in Europe to have 100 tech unicorns

  • In June 2021, the UK reached a new milestone with its 100th tech unicorn, according to data from Dealroom and Tech Nation. 

    A unicorn is a privately held start-up valued at over $1bn, named as such because of its rarity, with reporting that currently only 750 businesses in the world are labelled as unicorns.

    Tractable, an artificial intelligence start-up building computer vision tools, announced a $60m Series D raise a few months ago, that took the company’s valuation to $1bn, making it the region's 100th tech unicorn and also making the UK the first nation within Europe to reach this number. 

    Northern Ireland is home to two tech unicorns - homegrown firms, Newry's First Derivatives (now known as FD Technologies) and Belfast-based Kainos.   

    Number of tech unicorns in the UK, France and Germany (2000-2021). Source:

    So far in 2021, 13 tech unicorns have already been created in the UK, compared to seven in the whole of 2020, and UK tech unicorn creation has increased by 127% since 2017, when the region was home to 44 tech unicorns. 

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    The UK is also the ninth quickest country globally for creating unicorn start-ups, according to research from financial comparison website, analysed 31 unicorn companies across the UK, including their start dates and the dates of their $1bn valuations. 

    The site deducted that it has taken these companies an average of eight years and seven months to reach this valuation.

    Country Total number of unicorn companies Average years taken to reach $1B (according to
    #1 China 155 5 years, 10 months
    #2 Hong Kong 5 6 years, 1 month
    #3 Japan 6 6 years, 3 months
    =#4 USA 378 6 years, 11 months
    =#4 Singapore 6 6 years, 11 months
    =#4 Australia 6 6 years, 11 months
    #7 Israel 17 7 years, 3 months
    #8 France 16 8 years, 3 months
    #9 UK 31 8 years, 7 months
    #10 India 34 8 years, 9 months

    The top three industries in which firms became unicorns in the quickest amount of time were the auto and transportation, artificial intelligence and hardware sectors. said that telecoms, e-commerce, supply chain, cybersecurity, data management and analytics, fintech and travel were also in the top 10.

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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