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New Report Reveals UK’s Leading Position in Tech Investment and High-Growth Startups, but Highlights Inequality Among Founders 

Posted 10 Oct 2023

New report reveals UK’s leading position in tech investment and high-growth startups, but highlights inequality among founders

A groundbreaking report commissioned by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, underscores the UK’s impressive dominance in tech investment and the boom in high-growth startups across five different technology areas. However, the report also exposes stark inequalities, especially concerning founders who are female or from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The comprehensive “Diverse Founders in Advanced Digital Technology 2023” report details the amount of investment in UK startups during the 2022-2023 financial year, compiled by leading research firm Beauhurst, and paints a revealing picture of the UK’s tech landscape. It showcases a remarkable amount of tech investment across the nation, with an increasing number of high-growth startups.

Notable highlights include substantial investments in the immersive (virtual, augmented and mixed reality) technology sector, where all-female teams secured 13.7% of the annual total, and mixed-gender teams achieved an all-time high of 16.6% of annual tech investment. The report also reveals a clear disparity in ethnic representation within specific technology areas, particularly distributed systems and quantum, signifying the need for critical action to level the playing field.

  • Future networks companies founded by all-male teams secured £2.19b, or 89.7% of the total £2.44b raised between 2013 and 2022.
  • Quantum companies with at least one Asian founder secured £8.45m (7.47%) in 2022, while companies with a Black founder obtained less than 0.1% of the annual total.
  • In distributed systems, all-male founded companies received 93.2% of equity investment in 2022. Across the decade, they received 94.8% (£3.09b) of the £3.26b total investment.
  • Companies with a Black founder in distributed systems raised £7.51m in 2022 the second highest amount recorded following a peak of £11.2m in 2018. 

Despite the UK’s wealth of booming tech startups’ technological advancements, the report sheds light on stark disparities in investment and opportunities among founders based on gender, ethnicity, and educational backgrounds. For example, in 2022, all-male-founded companies with a focus on distributed systems technologies such as blockchain, secured a staggering 93.2% of all equity investment related to that technology. 

Digital Catapult is collaborating with industry leaders such as Sony Music UK, and organisations like MSDUK, on a brand new accelerator programme supporting Black Founders in the digital entertainment sector. Digital Catapult supports businesses interested in running positive action programmes to deliver initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion with our team of technology and business experts. 

The report highlights the pressing need for investors to actively seek opportunities to invest in businesses led by underrepresented founders. Closing this investment gap is crucial for fostering diversity and innovation within the tech industry.

The report’s findings underscore the necessity to create more accessible funding opportunities and support programs for underrepresented founders. Digital Catapult encourages everyone interested in the UK’s tech landscape and the challenges faced by diverse founders to download and read the full report. It provides valuable insights into the current state of the industry and how founder backgrounds vary across different technology areas from quantum to immersive.