The new figures are announced as the wider UK tech sector is now worth $1 trillion in value, becoming only the third in the world to ever reach this landmark valuation.
The Northern Ireland tech ecosystem had one of its strongest years yet in 2021, with digital startups and scaleups raising a record £37 million in funding, up from £21.5 million the year before.
This optimism in Northern Ireland tech has continued, with Belfast companies including streetwear trading platform Responsible and virtual healthcare training platform MedAll raising seed rounds already this year. And this growth is only set to continue.
Research by DCMS published last year found that Northern Ireland’s digital sector has the potential to grow by at least £800 million in annual GVA by 2025, a 53% increase in 2019’s value, and created an additional 13,300 jobs.
In 2018, the UK tech ecosystem was valued at $446 billion and was steadily growing until 2020 when it surged 42% to $942 billion because of increased investment activity into digital tools during the start of the Covid 19 pandemic and an active stock market. This has helped to catapult the valuations of many companies from unicorns - companies valued at $1 billion or more - to the rarer decacorns spot, for companies worth over $10 billion or more.
The UK is now home to 13 decacorns, of which 10 have gone on to IPO, and are the most highly valued tech companies in the country. This is double that of Germany (6) and three times’ Sweden (4).
This coveted club is set to grow in size over the next few years with 14 UK companies, with valuations of between $5bn and $10bn that are expected to become the next decacorns. The majority of the decacorns and unicorns are concentrated in London, however, there are now 44 unicorns spread out across the regions and 100 regional futurecorns that are laying the groundwork for future success across the country.
Digital minister Chris Philp, said: “The UK tech industry has gone from strength to strength in the past few years and all this hard work and dedication is paying off now that it’s become the third ecosystem in the world to reach $1 trillion in value. It’s brilliant to see how every tech company in the UK, from early-stage startups in Northern Ireland to global leading decacorns in London has a part to play in lifting up the ecosystem and making it thrive.”
Having launched a start-up in Belfast, Dr Phil McElnay, MedAll CEO, added: “The world needs to train 18 million more healthcare professionals by 2030, which is what motivated me to launch MedAll in Belfast. In one year, over 1000 healthcare organisations from more than 20 countries have used it to deliver thousands of training courses. We’re a clear example that you can build a globally impactful business from the UK and we’re excited to scale up the world’s healthcare training capacity alongside the amazing healthcare community and our passionate investors.”
Yoram Wijngaarde, founder and CEO at Dealroom, concluded: “The UK is only the third country in the world to reach this $1 trillion valuation milestone. The explosion in VC investment started by the pandemic amid the overwhelming demand for digital services for healthcare, education and food delivery has helped spur on this growth but the foundations were laid long before 2020. As companies and investors grapple with the global challenges of 2022 from the Russian Ukraine war to the ongoing supply chain crisis and the cost of living rises, it’ll be interesting to see how tech ecosystems like the UK’s adapt and adjust.”
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