Over £2 billion invested in ‘impact’ tech companies in 2021, Digital Economy Council reveal

November 30, 2021

More than £2 billion was invested in ‘impact’ tech companies in 2021, the latest statistics have revealed.

The research, published by Dealroom for the UK’s Digital Economy Council, highlights the success of startups founded to build solutions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, such as good health and wellbeing, quality education, sanitization, innovation, and climate action.

According to the report, UK tech companies “solving the world’s most pressing problems” raised a record £2 billion this year – up from £1.7 billion in 2020 and by 127 per cent since 2018.

This year’s growth was driven by companies such as green energy provider Octopus Energy, which raised the biggest impact round this year of £438 million, and electric car subscription platform ONTO, which raised £130 million in a Series B round.

The analysis also reveals that there are now nearly 900 ‘impact’ startups and scale-ups using technologies such as artificial intelligence, deep tech, big data, and blockchain to develop next-generation solutions, with climate tech companies accounting for around 65 per cent of this sector.

The ‘impact’ industry also boasts 12 ‘unicorns’ – defined as companies worth over $1 billion (£750 million) or more in value, as well as 22 ‘futurecorns’ – high-growth firms that are on track to reach ‘unicorn’ valuation in the next few years.

Commenting on the figures, Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “From world-class AI discovering new treatments for Covid-19 to green energy solutions paving the way to a net-zero future, UK tech is transforming the world for the better.

“We want to harness the power of technology to make greener, healthier and safer choices and today I’m hosting the first Future Tech Forum in London to discuss how we can make that happen through future governance, policy and cooperation.”

Gerard Grech, Founding CEO of Tech Nation, added: “The contributions of these inspiring impact tech scaleups has never been more vital – as is made evident by the increase in impact tech investment that we have seen this year.

“However, with 40 per cent of the technologies needed to reach net zero not yet at mass market scale, there is huge potential still to be realised. The UK tech ecosystem must do all we can to support and scale the UK’s impact tech scaleups who are shaping our society, economy and future.”

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