UK impactful startups raise £ 2bn to tackle world’s biggest challenges

  • UK technology is helping solve some of the world’s most pressing problems related to climate change, health and food insecurity
  • Impact startups in the UK raised £ 2bn in investments in 2021, up from £ 1.7bn last year
  • Impact investing has grown by 127% in the UK since 2018
  • Together these companies are worth £ 50 billion and employ over 35,000 people.

British impact tech startups – companies founded to craft solutions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – have raised £ 2bn in investment this year as technology becomes increasingly important in solving problems. global issues.

A new analysis released today by Dealroom for the UK’s Digital Economy Council showed impact investing in the UK has grown by 127% since 2018.

It comes as Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries is hosting the Future Tech Forum taking place this week in London, marking the end of Britain’s G7 presidency. The two-day event will bring together government ministers from around the world. They will meet with world-renowned experts from industry, civil society and academia to discuss future public policy issues relating to the development and use of digital technologies. In particular, they will discuss how technology can bring about positive global change and achieve some of the ambitious goals agreed by nations at COP26.

12 impact and counting unicorns

The UK is now home to 12 impact unicorns, businesses worth over $ 1 billion.

Unicorns are:

  • Arrival (London)
  • Octopus Energy (London)
  • Babylon (London)
  • ITM Power (Sheffield)
  • Ceres Power Holdings (Horsham)
  • Vertical Aerospace (Bristol)
  • Compass Pathways (London)
  • Depop (London)
  • Ovo Energy (Bristol)
  • Britishvolt (Blyth)
  • Towable (London)
  • BenevolentAI (Cambridge)

Of these 12 companies, six of them are based outside of London, demonstrating the extended nature of companies working in this space. These include Vertical Aerospace which is based in Bristol and builds zero carbon commercial flying taxis; ITM Power in Sheffield which designs and manufactures hydrogen power systems; and Ceres Power Holdings in Horsham, which is creating low-cost next-generation fuel cell technology to enable businesses to deliver clean energy on a large scale.

In addition, there are now 22 future impact horns, high-growth scale-ups that are set to achieve unicorn valuation in the next few years. These include alternative protein startup AgriProtein, fusion energy research energy company Tokamak Energy, and leading mobile healthcare and insurance provider Bima, with 25 million users. active in Asia and Africa. As these companies grow and evolve, they are expected to become future leaders and develop their technologies globally.

Technology tackles global solutions

Impact investing has grown around the world with investors keen to support businesses that will generate positive social and environmental impacts as well as financial returns. In the UK, there are now nearly 900 impactful startups and scale-ups using technologies such as artificial intelligence, cutting-edge technology, big data and blockchain to develop next-generation solutions to address challenges. global issues such as climate change, health and food insecurity. . From Dundee to Dorset, these companies have a combined value of £ 50 billion and have created more than 35,000 jobs.

Most of the capital in impact funds goes to companies creating affordable, clean energy and tackling the climate crisis, something investors around the world are paying more attention given the threat of global warming. climate. Collectively, climate technology companies account for 65% of transactions in the impact space. This is due to companies such as green energy provider Octopus Energy which has raised the biggest impact this year of £ 438m, electric car subscription platform ONTO which has raised £ 130m. British pounds in a Series B round, and the future energy company Newcleo. , which was launched earlier this year to disrupt the nuclear power industry.

It’s not just energy companies leading the green revolution – Plastic Energy, based in London with industrial plants across Spain, has raised £ 123million this year to transform plastic waste that would otherwise go to ‘Landfill in recycled oils that can be used to create recycled, plastic. Last year, UK climate technology investments accounted for more than a quarter (28.6%) of all climate technology deals in Europe and are expected to continue growing in value this year.

In addition to climate technology, UK impact startups are focused on solving global health issues. For example, Benevolent AI is the UK’s leading health impact company and uses big data and deep learning to discover more effective drugs and recently discovered a treatment for Covid-19 that was approved by the US regulator health care. Other big data health tech companies include Huma, which enables remote monitoring of patients to reduce hospital readmission rates in countries like the UK and Germany, and Cera, a application that helps families provide the right care to their loved ones.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said:

From world-class AI discovering new treatments for Covid-19 to green energy solutions paving the way for a net zero future, UK technology is transforming the world for the better.

Our ‘impact’ startups are mobilizing investments with nearly £ 2 billion in funding this year to help tackle some of the most pressing issues we face as a planet.

We want to harness the power of technology to make greener, healthier and safer choices and today I’m hosting the first Future Tech Forum in London to discuss how we can achieve this through governance, future policy and cooperation.

Luisa Alemany, Associate Professor of Management Practices in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital at London Business School, said:

Impact investing has come a long way from its beginnings in the late 90s, when it was seen more as a philanthropic endeavor until investors realized that these investments could not only provide social benefit. , but also a financial return. At the heart of it all is technology, because the way to increase social impact is through the application of science and technology. From biotechnology and nanotechnology, to clean technologies, computing and medicine, technology is not only improving our lives, but finding solutions to these pressing problems that only entrepreneurs, with the right source of funding. , can dare to solve.

Eric Archambeau, partner and co-founder of Atanor Ventures, said:

There are brilliant impact-driven UK entrepreneurs who are developing innovative technologies to put nature back at the heart of the economy. It is solutions like these that will transform the economics of an extraction system into a regeneration system, and entrepreneurs are the primary drivers of this transition.

Remus Brett, General Partner at LocalGlobe and Latitude, said:

COP26 and the current Covid-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for bold solutions to address these persistent challenges. Companies are realizing they need to make big changes and startups like Supercritical can help them make real change, not just greenwashing.

Rana Yared, General Partner at Balderton Capital, said:

With more money than ever being invested in UK tech companies, it’s critically important to see that an increasing amount is being spent supporting this new generation of impactful businesses. These companies have the dual mission of having a positive effect on the world, while being autonomous companies. As these companies grow and develop, it is important that they have the right conditions to thrive and become global leaders.

Gerard Grech, Founding CEO of Tech Nation, said:

The UK tech ecosystem is constantly innovating to solve societal, economic and environmental challenges – nationally and globally. The contributions of these inspiring impact technology scale-ups have never been more vital, as evidenced by the increased investment in impact technology we have seen this year. The value of UK tech companies Net Zero alone has almost doubled in the past year (from $ 24.4 billion to $ 47.6 billion). However, with 40% of the technologies needed to achieve net zero not yet at mass market scale, there is still enormous potential to be tapped. The UK tech ecosystem must do everything in its power to support and evolve the UK impacting technology developments that are shaping our society, economy and future.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The UK’s 12 impact unicorns are:

  • Arrival (London)
  • Octopus Energy (London)
  • Babylon (London)
  • ITM Power (Sheffield)
  • Ceres Power Holdings (Horsham)
  • Vertical Aerospace (Bristol)
  • Compass Pathways (London)
  • Depop (London)
  • Ovo Energy (Bristol)
  • Britishvolt (Northumberland)
  • Towable (London)
  • BenevolentAI (Cambridge)

Contact: [email protected]

About DEC

The Digital Economy Council is a non-statutory advisory committee made up of independent members, created to advise the government. Its goal is to harness the expertise of the industry and the wider tech community to develop a leading digital economy that works for everyone.

About the trading room:

Dealroom.co is the leading provider of data on startups, growing companies and tech ecosystems in Europe and globally. Founded in Amsterdam in 2013, Dealroom.co now works with many of the world’s foremost investors, entrepreneurs and government organizations to provide transparency, analysis and insight into startups and venture capital activities.


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