Two Cambridge companies - AlertMe and Cambrionix Ltd - feature in the latest Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50, the annual independent ranking of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies.
2014 Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 announced
The 50 fastest growing UK technology companies generated over £963 million in total annual revenues in the year 2013/14, employing more than 8,500 people and recorded an average five-year growth rate of 1,695 per cent, according to the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50.
Cambrionix - mobile technology charging and connectivity experts - finished in 10th place, while AlertMe, leading technology innovator in cloud-based Smart Home Services, was 13th. Norwich software company ServiceTick came 43rd.
Deloitte has analysed information submitted by the 159 Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 entrants and surveyed 68 CEOs from these companies. They said one of the most important factors that contributed to their company’s growth in the last 12 months, was a sound business strategy (60%). Other popular choices included employee talent (41 per cent), a culture of innovation (41 per cent), and strong leadership (26 per cent).
David Halstead, partner leading the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50, said: “Finding the right people is a challenge made more difficult by the scale and pace of recruitment. For these companies, doubling the number of employees in a year is not unusual. These companies spend significant amounts of time and effort recruiting and retaining the people needed to generate growth in the company.
“An additional challenge is the need for diverse skills, to fill specialist, technical and traditional commercial roles, but also people who can translate the world of technology for business.”
Funding and finance
The most common sources of funding for Fast 50 companies in the last five years was cash generated by the business (76 per cent) and bank debts (31 per cent).
Halstead added: “Owner funding was popular among the top performers and eight of the top 10 fund themselves this way. For some this was a conscious decision to sustain the company themselves, for others a necessity during the financial crisis, when funding was difficult to secure.”
Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 entrants have received investment from venture capital or private equity firms over the last five years and there is evidence that companies are increasingly looking to this source of funding. Forty per cent of Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 entrant CEOs are expecting to access venture capital or private equity funding in the next 12 months. Eighty-two per cent of the surveyed CEOs were either strongly or somewhat focused on becoming a listed company in the next 12 months. This is in contrast to only 10 per cent of CEOs surveyed in 2013 who said this was their ambition.
London dominates with four of the top 10 companies based in the capital and the majority (56 per cent) of the Fast 50 companies are still based in London and the South East. However, this has fallen since last year (64 per cent) with greater representation across the other regions of the UK. The top five companies are each from a different region of the UK and seven of the nine classified regions are represented in the top 10.
Scotland achieved the greatest regional year-on-year gains as home to six of this year’s winners, compared to four last year. Only London can boast a greater share of the top 50, providing extra momentum to recent efforts promoting the Scottish tech sector. Earlier this year the Scottish Government announced £6.6 million of funding for the digital sector to support a programme designed to teach digital skills to young people, and increase their participation in industries with digital skills shortages. CodeBase, Scotland’s largest digital incubator company, was officially opened this year and two Fast 50 companies, FreeAgent and Skyscanner, offered support to TechCube, Scotland’s first privately funded technology incubator.*
The Fast 50 winners include organisations from diverse sectors of the technology industry. Software and Internet firms have always featured heavily within the winners list due to the inherent scalability of their business models, but this year saw a significant increase in their dominance; representing 82 per cent of winners compared with 56 per cent each year from 2009-2013. This bias is even stronger at the top of the league table, making the success of electronics company Cambrionix even more notable. The Cambridge and East winner has scaled rapidly by focusing on the design of charging and data transfer solutions and finding UK-based supply chain partners for manufacture; demonstrating that traditional commercial skills remain a powerful differentiator in the
This year’s winner – Switch Concepts Ltd
The Southampton based Switch Concepts Ltd have won the Deloitte Fast 50 with 10,477 per cent growth. Founded in 2008, by Tom Barnett, Joanne Spector and Julian Spector, Switch Concepts is among the small group of specialists that have pioneered decision-engine technology** for real-time bidding (RTB) worldwide. In less than four years, the advent of real-time bidding (RTB) has transformed the world of online advertising. Where big brand names and other advertisers once purchased internet banner space in bulk, RTB allows them to connect their brands with more relevant audiences by bidding instantly for a single ad.
*TechCube meets Wall Street Journal, ScotlandIS, 2014 http://www.scotlandis.com/news/stories/techcube-meets-wall-street-journal
**This refers to the set of algorithms (the ‘engine’) that match up (or ‘decides’ on) ad spaces with advertisers, based on a range of variables, including price.
Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50
The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 is one of the UK’s foremost technology award programmes. Now going into its 17th successful year, it is a ranking of the country’s 50 fastest-growing technology companies, based on revenue growth over the last five years. The UK Fast 50 awards are all about growth driven by leading intellectual property and are a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship. The UK Fast 50 is part of an international programme run by Deloitte, qualifying entrants of the UK Fast 50 will be put forward to the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) programme. Previous winners have come from across the UK, are both large and small, and included some of the most dynamic players in all areas of technology, from Internet specialists to biotech, digital media technology to life sciences, computers to semiconductors and software to telecommunications.
For more information and the full list of Fast 50 companies, visit www.fast50.co.uk
The Deloitte Cambridge office comprises 8 Partners and over 250 staff who deliver a full range of professional services to the East Anglian region. As well as focussing on the life sciences and technology sectors for which the region has become so renowned, the office has long standing specialisms in other sectors including the professions, consumer business, food and agribusiness.