Tech Nation tracks growth of startup ecosystem

Tech Nation has unveiled its inaugural Scale Ratio, which compares the number of seed stage, early growth and late growth companies in the UK’s tech ecosystems, to help measure tech hub potential and success.

The Scale Ratio comes as industry body Tech Nation announces the latest cohort of its Upscale programme, consisting of 33 UK startups that will get six months of scale-up support - 48 per cent of them are based outside London.

Tech Nation says a 50:30:20 ratio of seed (50 per cent), early growth (30 per cent) and late growth (20 per cent) companies in a UK regional tech hub is “indicative” of a “mature, balanced ecosystem”.

It says such a ratio is “well placed” to benefit from the accelerated growth of late stage companies while creating the next wave of tech scale-ups.

It said London, Manchester and Cambridge generally exhibit the 50:30:20 ratio and attracted the most investment in the UK in 2020, with 70 per cent of this investment made into late stage companies.

Belfast (54:32:14), Dundee (54:26:20) and Exeter (59:14:27) are revealed as the “tech hubs to watch in 2021”, with ratios that indicate they have the highest growth potential.

These cities have the highest proportion of seed stage companies compared to any others in the UK. Belfast witnessed a doubling of pre-seed (£0-800,000) investment in 2020.

On the other hand, Milton Keynes, Watford, Reading, Peterborough and Slough “over index” on late stage companies and have less developed seed stage pipelines, with as many as 52 per cent of total scale-ups in late state growth.

Looking at sectors, FinTech, HealthTech and enterprise software are the most mature scale-up sectors, where the number of companies are heavily weighted towards late-stage companies.

Meanwhile, EdTech and MediaTech are weighted heavily towards seed stage companies, “indicating these are sectors with opportunity for future growth and development”, said Tech Nation.

George Windsor, head of insights at Tech Nation, said: “Crucially, the Scale Ratio tells us about the growth potential of the UK’s tech hubs and provides the levelling up agenda with new evidence to boost regional ecosystem development.

“It highlights exactly where scale-ups are not receiving the support they need to grow from seed stage upwards to ensure these gaps are plugged.

“Despite the challenges of the past 12 months, the growth and potential of home-grown tech pioneers gives us something to celebrate,” said Windsor.

It comes as Tech Nation announces the next cohort of its Upscale programme including startups from Belfast, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Oxford, as well as London.

HealthTechs make up almost a fifth (18 per cent) of the total - the UK is now third in the world for HealthTech investment after the US and China, with investment in the UK increasing from $2.27 billion in 2019 to $2.32 billion in 2020.

The latest Upscale companies to receive support are: accuRx, Atom Learning, Bidnamic, Blink, Brytlyt, ClauseMatch, E-days, Exonar, Gravity Sketch, iProov, Judopay, LabGenius, Laka, Leaf Grow, Locate a Locum, Molo, Navenio, One Team Logic, Orka, Red Sift, Riverlane, Rovco, Second Nature, Sensat, Speechmatics, Superscript, Tillo, Total Processing, Unmind, Virti, Vitaccess, Vizibl and YuLife.

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