UK Tech Startups | A Look at Speedinvest's Portfolio in the UK
Since 2011, we've invested in more than 300 startups in more than 40 nations. Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, France, and Spain are currently the countries we've invested in most in Europe. Why and in what companies? Keep reading for a deep dive into our UK portfolio and exclusive market insights from our sector-focused investors. Click below for a breakdown of our other top European markets.
UK Tech Startups: A Leading Hub for Startups
Even after Brexit, the UK is still Europe’s leading startup hub with a tech ecosystem valued at just under $1 trillion. Its 40,000 startups attract more funding, close more deals, and realize more exits than any other country across the continent. It’s no surprise then that the UK has produced 122 unicorns––only the USA and China have more.
In total, UK startups attracted an impressive $40.6 billion in venture capital funding in 2021 alone. Despite all of the big numbers being bounced around, according to research by Google and Tech Nation, pre-Seed and Seed funding for UK tech startups is still lower than in other countries, making up only 4.8 percent of all investment in 2021.
As early-stage investors, we’re extremely excited about the burgeoning pre-Seed and Seed scene in the country. That's why our London office is home to nearly 20 investors from across our sector-focused investment teams.
Speedinvest UK Deal Flow
We’re thrilled to reveal that we now receive more pitches from UK startups than from any other country, and there’s no signs of slowing down. In fact, when we compare 2017 to 2023, the number of startup pitches from the UK increased more than 10x!
Our UK Tech Startups
With nearly 70 investments in the UK startup ecosystem, there’s a lot we could talk about. From our office in London, we’re constantly scouring for additional opportunities for investment in the United Kingdom. Our cross-sector investment teams actively partner with founders building deep tech, fintech, and healthtech to climate and industrial tech, marketplaces & consumer, and SaaS & Infra startups. They also collaboratively fund the technologies that are reshaping our industries, redefining global economies, and securing a future for us all––crypto and emerging markets.
Below, our investors dive deep into our portfolio and explore the opportunities we see on the ground.
The UK is home to 182 digital health startups, more than any other country in Europe. It also ranks first in terms of total funding in Europe with €3.5 billion invested. Our London-based team is busy looking for solutions that help change lives for the better.
A number of exciting UK healthtech companies we backed develop patient-centric digital companion or virtual care solutions. One example is Doccla, a next generation remote patient monitoring platform that lets hospitals run virtual wards. Less than a year after leading their Seed round, we were proud to continue backing the company as part of its £15 million Series A.
We’ve also partnered with The Lowdown, the UK’s first contraception review platform, and Fertifa, the leading reproductive healthcare employer benefits provider. Also in London is Second Nature, which was the first program to be commissioned by the NHS for long term lifestyle change and weight loss.
Our other UK health portfolio companies include ThinkSono, which is an AI ultrasound training and diagnostics platform, initially focused on deep vein thrombosis. There’s also Elephant Healthcare, which develops a mobile-first platform for every step of the healthcare journey.
Curious to learn more about the Digital Health landscape in the UK? Our Health team mapped it out in this market landscape.
“The UK's leading role in research, the unique role that the NHS plays, and the flywheel effect from the startup ecosystem put the UK at the top of digital health innovation. We are excited to fund and support UK founders solving the most pressing healthcare challenges around the world.” –– Daria Gherghelas, Analyst at Speedinvest
Climate Tech and Industrial Tech
Climate Tech and Industrial Tech are becoming one of the UK's biggest sectors, and the urgent need for solutions that reverse climate change and facilitate a transition away from hydrocarbons is at the forefront. In 2021, we launched our €80 million Climate & Industry Opportunity fund to provide long-term support for our existing sustainability-oriented startups as well as new startups that accelerate Europe’s decarbonisation efforts.
In line with this strategy, we joined the pre-Seed Round for Paua, an EV startup which uses renewable energy to enable a transition to cleaner transport and fill the gap that often stops people from switching to electric vehicles. Only a few months later, Paua announced that they are now the largest independent EV roaming network for businesses in the UK, with over 10,000 charge point connectors across the country.
Greyparrot is another one to watch in the UK industrial tech space. This AI-powered waste analytics AI recognition software powers next generation robotics and smart systems to monitor, audit, and sort waste at scale on conveyor belts and in plants across the world. The startup went on to raise a healthy $11 million Series A led by Una Terra in May 2022.
“As climate challenges grow ever more urgent, the UK continues to be at the forefront of climate innovation in Europe. We are on a mission to support and fund founders that are looking to innovate and decarbonize across high-carbon sectors from the built environment and energy to food and agriculture.” –– Namratha Kothapalli, Principal in our Climate Tech and Industrial Tech team
Marketplaces & Consumer
Marketplaces and consumer-focused startups are thriving in the UK, particularly eCommerce and retail. In fact, the UK has more eCommerce startups than any other country in Europe. We have a number of investments in both the B2B and B2C spaces.
In B2C, we joined the pre-Seed and Seed rounds for Lollipop, an app founded by Curve and Monzo alumni Tom Foster-Carter to take the stress out of the weekly shop. Users can set health goals and dietary requirements, then choose recipes and plan meals for the week. Lollipop conveniently delivers the ingredients to their door. In addition, we partnered with Lapse, an app that lets you snap and develop rolls of films with friends.
We’ve also partnered with monetization platform Admix, which helps AR/VR creators connect to traditional ad networks. In 2021, they went on to raise a $25 million Series B funding round led by Elefund and DIP Capital.
B2B Marketplaces are equally exciting in this market. YardLink is a construction equipment rental marketplace that connects builders with rental companies in one seamless experience, saving customers time, money, and headaches. We joined the Seed Round and participated again in their $17.5 million Series A led by Beringea in 2022.
“The UK has historically positioned itself as a hotbed for category-defining marketplaces and platforms in Europe. We remain bullish on the opportunities available in-country particularly on the B2B side, which is still in its infancy. Diversity of talent, increasing investment in ICT by the Government and the growing appeal of entrepreneurship as a career path presents the UK with the perfect ingredients to keep its position as the marketplace & consumer capital of Europe.” –– Toyosi Ogedengbe, Senior Associate at Speedinvest
In the first half of 2022, UK Fintech attracted an eye-watering $7.6 billion in funding. The UK has the largest Fintech startup ecosystem in Europe, and London is the third-biggest fintech hub in the world. This market is no doubt a hotbed for founders looking to shake things up in both the B2B and B2C spaces - and we’ve been lucky enough to partner with some of them.
The opportunities for consumer fintech solutions remain immense. We started backing Curve, a single card built on the MasterCard® network that lets customers connect different debit and credit cards to one single card and smart app, at the Seed stage, and they have raised $182.5 million to date, including a $95 million Series C backed by IDC Ventures, Fuel Venture Capital and Vulcan Capital.
Things are equally exciting on the B2B side. Primer is a no-code payments solution that helps merchants optimize their front and back-end payment flows. After making our first investment in 2020, we were thrilled to join their Series B led by ICONIQ Growth in 2021, where they raised an epic $50 million at a $405 million valuation.
TaxScouts is another long-time member of our community. The Estonian-founded, London-based startup makes the once convoluted tax assessment and filing experience seamless and simple. We were excited to lead the Seed round and follow their progress as they closed a $5 million Series A funding round.
We’re committed to investing in crypto across all of our sectors, especially when it comes to bridging crypto and traditional fintech. Following this thesis, we partnered with Fiat Republic, a banking and payments API which enables crypto companies to access fiat rails in an easy and compliant way.
Last but not least, activist investment is becoming more and more relevant. We are proud investors in Tulipshare, a startup that uses shareholder leverage for activist investment, and contribute to their Seed round in December 2021.
Not only do we support homegrown companies within the UK, we are actively supporting companies from other geos looking to expand there. Nigerian mobility fintech startup Moove provides vehicle financing in six African countries. In September 2022, Moove expanded to the UK and joined forces with Uber with plans to be the largest EV partner on Uber’s platform. Two examples of French startups expanding into the UK include Rollee, which helps financial institutions harness employee data to make fairer decisions across various industries, and Finary, a wealth management platform that provides users with an all-in-one, real-time dashboard of their investments across all asset classes. For the full details on these French startups and more, check out our article on the French tech startups in our portfolio.
“The London fintech scene has long been the crowning jewel in European fintech. The UK has traditionally been a pioneer in fintech-friendly regulatory frameworks, which supports the birth and fast growth of companies which now define the European (and global) fintech ecosystem as we know it. The UK is also the hub for fintech innovators and talents, and we are strongly committed to investing in UK-based fintech businesses as well as supporting our companies from other geos expanding in the UK”. –– Olga Shikhantsova, Partner at Speedinvest
The UK is the global frontrunner for growth in deep tech. Deep Tech investment in this market has increased 33x since 2011 with investments topping $8.5 billion in 2021. Deep tech makes up a steady 22 percent of investment deals in the UK with megarounds of over $250 million contributing heavily.
When it comes to new deep tech technologies that unlock new capacities, a key example is PoroTech, a microLED proprietary technology startup based in Cambridge. We partnered with PoroTech in 2021, and less than a year later they went on to secure an impressive $20 million Series A to accelerate their global expansion.
Then there’s Breathe Battery Technologies, a startup which builds physics-based battery performance software, improving safety and performance, while cutting costs. The company is following this up with a strong series A. Watch this space!
Artificial intelligence is another core pillar of our investment strategy. In 2022, we co-led Bitfount’s Seed round to help the startup further develop its federated AI and data collaboration platform. The federated nature of the platform means users can share the benefits of their data without ever having to give up control or privacy. Also in the AI space is the UCL spin-out TurinTech, a unique optimisation platform that is particularly good with data intensive applications. Most recently, we co-led the Seed round for Boltzbit, whose latest breakthrough is a low-code generative-AI platform which makes foundation AI models easily accessible to non-specialists.
Our AI investments in the UK are rounded off with three more cutting edge companies; Pimloc, Tenyks and Solvo.ai. Pimloc’s technology allows users to analyze unstructured data such as video while maintaining privacy standards, allowing for use cases such as security monitoring in airports. We were proud to continue supporting them when they raised a $7.5 million Seed in 2022. We also backed Tenyks, a Cambridge spin-out, right before they were accepted to Y-combinator’s prestigious programme to develop their technology that lends transparency and interpretability to the deep learning black box. And last but not least, Solvo.ai. Solvo’s advanced application of reinforcement learning makes supply chains more efficient and resilient in unpredictable times.
And of course, our portfolio wouldn’t be complete without quantum. We were excited to co-lead the Seed round for KETS, a startup leveraging the properties of quantum mechanics to solve challenging problems in randomness generation and secure key distribution to enable ultra secure communications.
“The UK sports an advanced deep tech ecosystem that we are intimately familiar with. We have invested across the entire spectrum of its varied frontier, from AI and quantum technologies to semiconductors and material science. We will continue to actively seek out and back the most innovative founders, pushing the boundaries of what is possible.” –– Rick Hao, Partner at Speedinvest
SaaS & Infra
SaaS is booming in the UK. Nearly 8 percent of high-growth companies in the UK are SaaS businesses, and SaaS companies secured 3 out of the 10 biggest equity deals in the UK in H1 2022.
B2B solutions like Sylvera are proving SaaS’ potential to make positive changes at scale. Sylvera is the world’s first carbon offset ratings provider that leverages geospatial data, machine learning, and proprietary climate data to create a reliable and transparent assessment of carbon offset projects, which helps identify issues and inform future decisions. We started supporting Sylvera at the Seed stage, and were delighted to see them raise a $32 million Series A led by Index Ventures only one year later.
Anyone who has worked in hospitality knows hotel data can be spread across hundreds of PMS systems, making it difficult to access, and even more difficult to glean insights. That’s why we partnered with Impala, which provides a Meta API for hotel PMS, making it possible to access all data in one place. We got in early in the pre-Seed stage and are very proud to see Impala has now raised $32.9 million over 4 rounds, most recently in a Series B led by Lakestar.
In the HR SaaS space, we have Sona, an employee app tailored to modern frontline workplaces. It combines powerful productivity tools and features like schedule view, absence management and shift booking. We led Sona’s pre-Seed round in 2021, and joined the €6.2 million follow on round just four months later.
“The UK is Europe’s most mature SaaS & Infra ecosystem and we’re excited to back its plethora of experienced builders. Cloud software is continuing to grow at astonishing rates and we believe it will continue to do so until it has reached every crevice of the economy.” –– Frederik Hagenauer, Partner at Speedinvest