The UK's Top Startups and Tech Firms You Need to Know About

By Bruce Harpham Tuesday, January 5, 2021

There are successful startup companies in the United Kingdom, but they are not widely known in the US. For a fresh perspective in the tech industry, take a look at these startups. They're well funded and have different approaches to the world's most exciting technologies.

1. Global Switch ($6.5 Billion in Funding)

The data center industry might be dominated by a handful of technology giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Yet, Global Switch has managed to grow and succeed in the data center industry since 1998. The company's multi-tenant data centers are located in Europe (i.e., London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt) and Asia-Pacific (i.e., Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney).

Global Switch has raised funds from venture investors like Ping An Ventures and banks like China CITIC Bank. Global Switch's last investment round of £2.1 billion ($2.8 billion) closed in 2018. All of the 2018 investors are based in China: AVIC Trust, China CITIC, and Shagang Group.

The company does not disclose revenue figures. However, Fitch Ratings report forecast that the company will grow in 2020 by 11%.

2. The Hut Group ($3.9 Billion in Funding)

Focused on health and beauty ecommerce, The Hut Group is one of the UK's most successful ecommerce brands. Unlike Amazon, which mostly focuses on a single brand, the Hut Group takes a different market approach. The company operates more than 100 websites, including My Bag, My Protein, Grow Gorgeous, and Look Fantastic.

With annual revenue of over $900 million, this ecommerce giant has grown partly with investors' support. The British ecommerce giant's funding sources include banks (i.e., Barclays, HSBC Bank, HSBC, JOP Morgan, and Santander Bank). The Hut Group operates in 169 countries and accepts 39 currencies. In addition to ecommerce, the company has also branched into related digital ventures such as ICON, a digital content creation studio.

3. Deliveroo (Total Funding: $1.5 Billion)

Competing with other food delivery apps like DoorDash or UberEats, Deliveroo helps restaurants sell meals and customers to buy them. While the company offers delivery service in multiple countries, it has the most significant UK presence. The delivery app has signed up approximately 30,000 UK restaurants. Excluding pubs and bars, Deliveroo provides delivery for one-third of all UK restaurants. Key investors in the company include Greenoaks Capital, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity Management, and General Catalyst.

In 2018, the company made around £476 million ($576 million) in revenue while posting an estimated loss of about £232 million ($309 million). From 2015 to 2018, the company has managed to grow revenues and posted losses for each year. Amazon invested in the company in 2020 after going through a lengthy review by the UK government. Amazon's investment may give Deliveroo breathing room to achieve profitability and now owns approximately 16% of the delivery app.

The company has also grown through acquisitions such as Maple, acquired in May 2017, a New York-based food delivery company with $29 million in funding before the acquisition. Furthermore, Deliveroo acquired Cultivate, a Scottish software development company, in July 2019.

4. Oxford Nanopore Technologies ($666 Million in Funding)s

This healthcare technology company produces products for researchers in several fields, including cancer research and environmental research in more than one hundred countries. Oxford Nanopore Technologies has made essential contributions to COVID-19 research. Specifically, the company has developed a low-cost, fast test for the virus. Also, the company contributed to the sequencing of the virus.

Founded in 2005 as a spin-off from Oxford University, the company has approximately five hundred employees. In 2019, the company opened a manufacturing facility in Oxford. In 2018, the company reported revenue of $43 million. Given its involvement in COVID-19 research, the company has probably grown far more in 2020. Investors in Oxford Nanopore include Amgen (a global biotechnology company that invested $62 million in the company) and GT Healthcare Capital Partners.

5. Telegram Messenger ($850 Million in Funding)

The UK's answer to Facebook Messenger, Telegram, focuses on private and secure messaging between individuals and groups. With four hundred million users, Telegram may have a more extensive user base than Twitter. In addition to chat and file transfer, Telegram also supports pots, media playback, and payments. Using payment bots, Telegram can process payments via Stripe and Yandex.
Telegram is different from other companies on this list in its funding model. Rather than charge user fees or advertising, the app is currently funded through "donations." Telegram's $850 million funding dates to a 2018 initial coin offering. It remains to be seen if the company's unusual funding and business model will prove sustainable over the long run.

About the Author


Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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