Cambridge sees a 35% increase in VC investment in 2019 as Healx and BenevolentAI join Tech Nation’s Future Fifty 8.0 programme

VC investment in Europe 2019

The annual Tech Nation Report today reveals key stats on the UK’s booming tech industry.

East of England, Tech Nation Report headline findings:

  • £800m total VC investment in 2019
  • £998m invested in emerging tech (2015-2019)
  • £486m AI investment (2015-2019)
  • 9 digital tech unicorns (2019)
  • 12 high-value tech scaleups (2019)


  • Cambridge is one of the fastest growing European tech cities, with an increase of 33% in VC investment into digital tech companies from £380mn in 2018 to £500mn in 2019
  • Cambridge is one of the leading cities in Europe when it comes to robotics investment and development with £411m in total funding in 2019
  • The median digital tech salary in Cambridge is £39,000 in 2019

Tech Nation’s Future Fifty 8.0 programme

Healx and BenevolentAI join Tech Nation’s Future Fifty 8.0 programme, for late-stage tech companies in the UK - Europe’s longest serving and most successful programme for late-stage tech companies, with 9 IPOs and 30 mergers and acquisitions.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Cambridge is home to one of the world's top universities and has a hugely talented workforce so it's no surprise the east of England has become a thriving tech hub and secured more tech funding than many major European capitals.

"We are determined to create the conditions digital businesses in Cambridge need to succeed. Right across the country we are investing £5 billion in gigabit speed broadband, 5G, cyber security, digital skills, research and development."

Thea Goodluck, Entrepreneur Engagement Manager, East of England, Tech Nation commented: “The Tech Nation report 2020 findings show the East of England tech scene is thriving. Close to £1bn has been invested in emerging technologies in the region between 2015 and 2019, and it is exciting to see the three emerging sectors identified in the report as Agritech, Cleantech and Healthtech. Emerging technologies and sectors are visible and growing across the region as a whole, with Cambridge producing incredible AI and healthtech scaleups, Norfolk and Suffolk leading the way on agritech and cleantech, and Essex having a vibrant digital creative and AR / VR presence. Local unicorns such as Darktrace and Cambridge Medical Robotics are providing high value, highly skilled jobs in the area, and I’m delighted to see Healx and BenevolentAI join our Future Fifty 8.0 programme for late-stage tech companies.”

Poppy Gustafsson, CEO, Darktrace, commented: “It is fantastic that the UK stands as one of the top 3 countries investing in AI globally. The lifeblood of brilliant technology companies is access to capital and great talent, and Britain has both of these ingredients. Darktrace is a fantastic example of Great British AI proving itself fundamental in solving one of the society’s greatest challenges. Thousands of organizations around the world are using this technology to fight back on their behalf to protect their critical data and systems from crippling cyber-attacks.”

Baroness Joanna Shields, CEO, BenevolentAI commented: "Future Fifty was created to support high growth tech companies as they strive to scale up and become market leaders. BenevolentAI could not be more excited or proud to be part of the cohort in 2020. We are a great British business and we have an important and purposeful mission to push the boundaries of technology to understand the underlying cause of diseases and to use AI and machine learning to develop more effective medicines for patients. We are delighted to have Future Fifty by our side for the journey ahead.”

Dr Kate Hilyard, Chief Operating Officer, Healx, commented: "At Healx we are committed to transforming the lives of rare disease patients by harnessing the power of AI to discover and develop new treatments. To be accepted to the Future Fifty 8.0 programme is a great validation of Cambridge’s thriving tech ecosystem and their support of mission-driven companies that are developing tech to positively impact society."


Tech Nation Report 2020

Investment and employment boom for UK tech sector

Future Fifty 8.0 announced with Atom Bank and BenevolentAI joining the programme

Full report here

  • Digital tech sector GVA grew nearly 6x faster than that of the rest of the UK economy in 2018 - contributing £149bn to the UK economy and accounting for 7.7% of UK GVA
  • Digital tech employs 2.9m people in the UK, an increase of 40% from 2017 (now accounting for 9% of the national workforce)
  • 25% of Europe’s top 20 highest investment tech cities in 2019 are in the UK - Manchester, London, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge
  • Manchester is the fastest growing European tech city, with an increase in investment of £48m to £181m from 2018 to 2019 – representing an increase of 277%.
  • 95 UK companies valued at between $250-$800m in the UK in 2019 - a 27% increase from 2018, in addition to the 77 $1bn valued companies currently in the UK
  • Tech Nation has also announced which companies have made it onto its Future Fifty 8.0 programme, Europe’s longest serving and most successful programme for late-stage tech companies, with 9 IPOs and 30 mergers and acquisitions. Successful applicants include Atom Bank, Vizolution, BenevolentAI, Elvie and Babylon (full list below)

Tech Nation, the growth platform for tech companies and leaders, has today announced the release of its annual Tech Nation Report.


The report provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of the UK’s tech ecosystem, exploring the drivers that underpin and power economic growth within the sector.

This year, the report explores the current state of the UK tech sector, how high value scaleups and tech unicorns are fuelling investment, which UK regions are competing on the international stage, and how the UK is leading the way on cutting-edge technologies.


The Tech Nation report is proudly supported by partners Openreach and BNP Paribas Real Estate, who are pivotal in digital transformation through the provision of valuable infrastructure and in championing the UK tech sector. We would also like to thank our data partners Aon.Radford, Dealroom, Pitchbook, Crunchbase and Gsma.


UK Tech sector growth

2019 was an incredibly positive year for the UK tech sector. Compared to the rest of the UK economy, digital tech grew 6 times faster than any other industry (the digital tech sector contributed £149bn to the UK economy in 2018, accounting for 7.7% of UK GVA. This is nearly 6 times greater than growth across the economy as a whole, which increased by 1.4%).

Source: Tech Nation 2020; DCMS 2020


In 2019 there were 2.9m people employed in the digital tech economy, an increase of 40% from 2017, with the digital tech economy now accounting for 9% of the national workforce compared to 7% two years ago.


Late stage scaling investment in the UK has boomed over the last year: Series C investment onwards grew by 71%, and Growth Equity (Private Equity) grew by 51%, indicating that the UK tech ecosystem is scaling and companies are ready to take on large sums to enable unicorn style growth.


In 2019, 81.2% of investment into UK tech went to scaling firms, compared to 80% in 2018. A ‘scaleup business’ is defined as a company which has seen average annualised growth of at least 20% over three years with 10 or more employees at the start of the period.


Fintech remains the UK’s largest tech investment sector with a 100% rise from 2018. 44% of Europe’s Fintech unicorns and companies valued between $250m and $800m are based in the UK.


UK Growth powered by High Value Scaleups across the country


The UK is home to 95 companies valued at between $250-$800m in 2019 - the most ever on record – which represents a 27% increase from 2018, and significantly more than the UK’s counterparts: France is home to (61) of these high value scaleups, Germany (46), and Israel (46).


These companies are important as they represent the pipeline of companies that are already disrupting the UK’s tech ecosystem, and show trends and patterns in the development of the UK tech sector. To date these companies have raised £6.75bn and employ 17,475 people.


Forty-five per cent of high value scaleups are based outside of the capital, including in wejo based in Chester, Bybox based in Coventry and Crisp Thinking based in Leeds.

These companies are set to become the tech unicorns of the future. The UK is a world leader in producing tech unicorns - it’s 3rd in the world, behind only the US and China. The UK is home to 77 tech unicorns, tech companies valued at over $1bn, and eight tech unicorns were created in 2019.


UK Investment in Europe Perspective


UK companies secured a third of the £30.4bn of investment raised by tech companies during 2019 in Europe.


London generated record investment among European cities - £6.8bn in 2019, a 67% increase on 2018, followed by Berlin (£3.5bn), and Paris (£2.4bn).


25% of Europe’s top 20 highest investment tech cities are in the UK - Manchester, London, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge. Furthermore, Manchester is the fastest growing European tech city, with an increase in investment of £48m to £181m from 2018 to 2019 – representing an increase of 277%.

UK Pioneering New Technologies & Leading in Value Driven Technology


In 2019, for every £1 invested into New Technologies (AI, robotics, cybersecurity, blockchain, IoT, virtual reality, and augmented reality) in Europe, 35 pence was invested into UK companies.


  • Artificial Intelligence:
    • The UK is 3rd in the world for the level of AI investment. From 2015 to 2019 UK AI companies raised £3.2bn of global AI investment, meanwhile the US raised £32bn, and China raised £12bn
    • The UK is the only country of the top 5 AI nations to have demonstrated consistent positive year-on-year growth for the last 5 years
  • Cybersecurity
    • The cybersecurity big hitters are the US and China, closely followed by Israel and the UK.
    • The UK raised £7.8bn in cybersecurity investment from 2015 to 2019. The US and China continue to dominate with total investment of £17.5bn and £16.4bn from 2015 to 2019
  • Blockchain
    • The UK comes in fourth in the world for blockchain investment at £8.9bn of investment for 2015 to 2019. 
    • The US is third in the world for blockchain deals, at 249 compared to the US at 1,212 and China at 268
  • Healthtech 
    • £1.18bn raised by UK healthtech companies In 2019 -  accounting for 61% of the total European market (£1.93bn)

It’s not just new technologies that are driving change in the tech ecosystem, but also values. Purpose-driven UK tech companies are coming to the fore, with investment in UK tech companies addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) almost doubling in the last year, from £1.59bn investment to £3.06bn. UK SDG aligned companies have raised more over the last six years than those in any other European country. 



Future Fifty 8.0 Cohort Announcement


In conjunction with the annual Tech Nation report, Tech Nation,  the growth platform for tech companies and leaders,  is pleased to announce the high-growth scaleups which have been selected to join the 8th edition of Future Fifty, the UK’s leading late-stage growth programme.


The programme supports companies in achieving their global ambitions, creating jobs and opportunities across the UK, and inspiring the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, founders and businesses.


Previous Future Fifty Alumni include a host of successful tech companies, including Deliveroo, Funding Circle, Skyscanner and Partnerize.


New entries onto the programme this year include Atom Bank, BenevolentAI, Elvie, Soldo and Vizolution.


The programme is supported by partners CBRE, RSM, Talent Works International and Shearman & Sterling who bring their expertise and networks to Future Fifty.