Next $1bn stars

Four Scots firms named as future unicorns

Roslin Technologies: among the future stars

Four Scottish companies have been identified as Scotland’s next unicorns – fast-growth private companies valued at more than $1 billion.

Amphista Therapeutics in Motherwell, Roslin Technologies in Edinburgh, Interactive Investor in Glasgow, and NuCana BioMed in Edinburgh, are named in new research by startup data provider and the Digital Economy Council. 

In recent years Scotland has created two recognised tech unicorns – Skyscanner and FanDuel – while brewery and pubs group BrewDog has also been valued at $1bn.

Since 2010, the UK has experienced a sustained increase in venture capital flowing into the tech sector,.

It has resulted in a huge expansion in the number of startups scaling rapidly in fintech, food delivery, e-commerce and healthtech.

Scottish startups last year attracted £345m in venture capital investment, despite the pandemic and a recent report recognised that 13,000 digital tech job opportunities were created every year in Scotland. 

The number of unicorns has increased from eight in 2010 to 91 in 2021. They include Betfair, Admiral Group and Ocado which have become household names. 

Meanwhile, the number of future unicorns has accelerated from 10 to 126 in 2020. Over the same period, venture capital investment into the UK has increased from £1.2bn in 2010 to £11.3bn 10 years later. 

These numbers demonstrate the extent to which the UK is catching up with the US and China in tech, with London now fourth behind the Bay Area, Beijing and New York, when it comes to the number of startups and unicorns created. No other European country has been able to grow at such a speed. 

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While France has invested millions of euros in its startup ecosystem, in 2020 it had only 17 unicorns, up from zero in 2010. Germany had one unicorn 10 years ago and 31 in 2020, including companies such as insurtech platform Wefox, neobank N26 and travel e-commerce platform Omio.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “Tech companies across the UK are improving our lives through creativity and innovation. With three unicorns and four fast-growing scaleups, Scotland is one of the UK’s leading tech hubs.”

“The UK Government is dedicated to supporting investment in tech in Scotland.

“Our recent commitment to create five new innovation hubs in fields such as robotics and space technology will ensure the industry has a bright future.”

Nicola Thompson, CEO of Amphista Therapeutics, said: “It’s brilliant to be recognised as one of the UK’s leading futurecorns.

“At Amphista we’re building a world-leading biopharmaceutical company, based on groundbreaking research from the University of Dundee, and situated in BioCity Scotland.

“We’re dedicated to delivering innovative new medicines in areas of high patient need, including cancer and CNS, and this is all possible thanks to our outstanding team and support of our great investors.”

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