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London is home to more billion dollar tech businesses than anywhere else in Europe

William Shu, the co-founder and CEO of Deliveroo. The delivery startup is one of several $1bn tech businesses started in London over the last decade. Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images
William Shu, the co-founder and CEO of Deliveroo. The delivery startup is one of several $1bn tech businesses started in London over the last decade. Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

London has seeded more tech businesses worth over $1bn than any other European city over the last decade, according to new research.

Britain’s capital is also currently home to more “unicorn” tech businesses than any other city in Europe, according to tech-focused investment bank GP Bullhound.

17 London startups have surpassed a valuation of $1bn since 2010, according to the bank’s research. Of those, 13 are still based in the capital.

Notable “unicorns” born in London include Asos (ASC.L), Just Eat (JE.L), Zoopla, Funding Circle (FCH.L), Monzo, and Deliveroo. The most recent London startup to surpass a $1bn valuation was fintech Revolut.


The figures make London the undisputed capital of tech “unicorns” in both the UK and Europe. 26 $1bn tech businesses have been created in the UK since 2010, highlighting London’s dominance, while the next biggest “unicorn” hub in Europe, Berlin, has seeded just 9 $1bn startups in the last 9 years.

“London is the beating heart of the European tech scene,” Manish Madhvani, co-founder and managing partner of GP Bullhound said. “It is great to see so many unicorns currently based here, along with several contenders that are likely to hit the status next.”

“Like some of the more mature technology hubs in the US, London is starting to feel the benefits of a growing pool of serial entrepreneurs with experience of taking businesses to very significant scale,” Alliott Cole, CEO of investment firm Octopus Ventures, said.

Monzo was founded by one of the cofounders of GoCardless, a direct debit startup that raised $75m earlier this year. Alex Chesterman, the founder of Zoopla and LoveFilm, recently announced a new used car tech venture. And the likes of Chesterman and Wonga cofounder Errol Damelin have become prolific early stage investors in new tech businesses.

Madhvani said: “The challenge now is for London unicorns to kick on, and crucially for investors to back them with increased resources so that they can challenge the dominance of Silicon Valley.”

London’s booming tech scene, which hardly existed a decade ago, faces headwinds from Britain’s looming exit from the European Union. So far in 2019, investment has held up, with fintech in particular attracting lots of capital.

However, so-called “seed” funding into early stage startups fell by 15% last year. This could threaten to reduce the pipeline of potential billion dollar businesses being created in the capital.

Separate research by London & Partners, released in tandem with GP Bullhound’s report, found that London had the third highest total of foreign direct investment of any city globally in 2018. £8.8bn was invested in London by overseas investors last year.

“From artificial intelligence to fintech, London is home to lots of exciting companies that are leading the way in developing innovations and ideas to change the world,” Laura Citron, CEO London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, said.


Oscar Williams-Grut covers banking, fintech, and finance for Yahoo Finance UK. Follow him on Twitter at @OscarWGrut.

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