Science superpower! Brexit Britain crushes EU rivals with £29.4bn record tech funding year

Denis MacShane: Lord Frost branded 'Boris Johnson's useful idiot'

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Both Germany and France have been left in the dust as the Digital Minister said the UK has been creating a $1billion unicorn every fortnight”. It comes after British technology firms raised a total of £29.4billion this year, more than double last year’s figure, according to data compiled by analysts Dealroom. It compares to £11.5billion raised in 2020.

This year, technology companies outside of London and the South East alone raised £9billion.

Digital Minister Chris Philp said 29 companies this year have reached the so-called “unicorn” status – being worth more than $1billion (£750million).

And they are said to be the envy of the rest of Europe.

The £26billion raised is nearly double Germany’s £13.5billion and three times the amount raised in France, at £8.6billion.

While some had predicted an exodus away from the UK technology scene in the wake of the Brexit vote, five years on start-ups have raised nearly four times as much in 2021 as they did in 2016.

Mr Philp said technology investors were expecting “a whole load of Spacs (special purpose acquisition companies” after regulators loosened rules around the funding mechanism.

And he said there was now a need for longer-term British investors, such as pension fund managers.

He added: “Pension funds are hugely under-allocated to pre-IPO tech. There is a massive opportunity there for UK pension funds to invest in UK venture capital.”

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make the UK a “science superpower” after the split from the EU.

He wants to build on the success of the UK’s coronavirus vaccine programme and apply it to other areas.

These include developing technology to reach net zero carbon emissions and curing cancer rather than simply treating it.

But it comes after the UK postponed an ambitious science spending target by two years.

In his budget, Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, announced that the Government will ramp research and development (R&D) spending up to £22 billion per year by 2026.

It is two weeks later than originally planned.

But it means that, in five years time, public spending would be around £5billion higher than 2021.

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