2020 has been a challenging year for many. But despite fears back in March that COVID-19 would have a lasting impact on investment and innovation in the UK’s startup ecosystem, we’ve since seen a whole host of ambitious new companies join the scene.
In fact, seven startups have reached unicorn status this year, with valuations of at least $1b—including four since the start of the pandemic. 2020 has also seen the growth of the eHealth sector, whilst fintech had its second-best quarter on record in Q3.
Here at Beauhurst, 2020 has been busy. And now seems as good a time as any to reflect on this past year, to celebrate some of the ways we’ve kept our readers and subscribers informed amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve published 100 articles on our blog, and provided a total of 18 research reports via our newsletter. On the Beauhurst platform, our data team has added 4,868 newly tracked companies, and collected data on 9,002 funding rounds this year.
Meanwhile, our development team has launched a number of product updates, from minor bug fixes to major new features. These helped our subscribers better understand the UK’s high-growth landscape, with the profile pages of Beauhurst-tracked companies accumulating a massive 2.5m views throughout 2020.
Across the company, we’ve also made a further nine permanent hires this year, and had the pleasure of welcoming six new interns to the team. We also released a new jobs page on our website—be sure to take a look at our available vacancies while you’re here.
With all this going on, we thought it would be fitting to showcase our team’s biggest achievements from 2020 in our final blog post of the year! We’ve handpicked some of our headline publications, important milestones, and our most exciting new platform features from each month.
Newly tracked companies
funding rounds identified
views of high-growth company profiles on the Beauhurst platform
One of our first blog articles of the year looked at some of the most promising startups to watch in 2020. It spotlighted UK tech companies that had recently gained the attention of investors, raising their first round of equity funding last year. We found that 2019 had seen the number of first-time fundraisings decline to levels last seen towards the beginning of the decade, making these nine ambitious tech businesses all the more impressive.
Our annual flagship report analysed equity investment into UK private companies throughout 2019. A record-breaking £12b was deployed, with crowdfunding platform Seedrs crowned the most active UK investor. 2019 was a top year for fintech and AI, with deal numbers increasing 11% and 5% respectively from 2018. Yet the proportion of investment secured by female-founded businesses had stagnated at around 20% (for the fourth year in a row).
In partnership with Parkwalk, we analysed equity investments made into UK spinouts. Spinout companies secured fewer deals in 2019 compared with 2018, with those involving international investors declining more than domestic ones. Meanwhile, spinouts based in London, the South East, and East of England dominated the investment scene in 2019, in particular those with links to Oxbridge universities.
Our platform’s original Networks feature helps our subscribers to better understand leaders across the industry. In March, we added My Network, a new tool for users to create their own relationship ecosystem, enabling them to leverage their existing business connections with top entrepreneurs, angel investors, C-suite executives, directors, and shareholders.
In the same month, the product and development teams added another exciting update to our platform: interactive maps. The responsive maps appear in our Explore pages and Advanced Search results, breaking down search criteria by country, region, local authority, or LEP. The feature enables users to better understand markets and quickly identify areas for new business.
The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through the economy, in particular the startup space, with small companies being especially vulnerable to economic shocks. As the whole of Beauhurst shifted to working from home, we compiled a hub of resources for SMEs that had been affected by the pandemic, providing updates and information on the support available to them.
Following the arrival of COVID-19, we set out to determine the precise effects of the pandemic on the UK’s startups and scaleups. Within just a few weeks, our incredible Data team had worked tirelessly to assign all 30k tracked companies on our platform with COVID-19 impact tags. These are updated monthly (at a minimum), and when new restrictions come in, we review every businesses in affected sectors and locations.
Our unique COVID-19 dataset allowed us to measure and map the broad impact of the pandemic, as well as individual government restrictions, on the UK’s high-growth economy. In this preliminary report, we highlighted at-risk areas as well as the types of companies that may perform well under these circumstances. Our analysis showed that 22% of jobs were immediately under threat, whilst £320b of turnover was facing moderate to critical risk.
Beauhurst is the only data provider with comprehensive and structured coverage of unannounced investment deals in the UK. Unannounced deals make up more than 70% of all UK fundraisings, and help our subscribers to better understand the growth of ambitious companies. Back in May, our data team hit this important milestone, with 30k unannounced fundraisings tracked on our platform.
In June, we introduced a new feature to the Beauhurst platform: the Upload Contacts tool for Networks subscribers. Following the arrival of My Network earlier in the year, this additional update enables users to upload contacts and Linkedin connections to their Beauhurst accounts. This makes it easier for subscribers to find out who they know at tracked companies, and to set up warm introductions to the people that matter to them.
Over the last decade, impact investing has become an increasingly popular avenue of deploying capital. But looking at fundraising figures since 2011, we found that the impact investment market had been hit harder by COVID-19 than the rest of the equity investment market. We listed the most active investors in the social impact space, and the trailblazing companies that they’ve funded.
The range of job titles used at startups can make finding people with the right experience a challenge. To make the search process easier for our users, our data team created a new classification algorithm for job functions, with simple categories like ‘Sales/BD’, ‘Finance’ and ‘Legal’. Since July, Networks subscribers have been able to filter by job function in the platform’s Advanced Search.
For several years now, London has been leading the way in European venture funding. Our most popular blog article this year explored 23 of the city’s most active venture capital firms in 2020, taking a look at their recent deal activity and investment criteria.
In 2019, crowdfunders backed 422 deals, making them the second most active investor type, behind venture capital and private equity firms. This report analysed crowdfunding activity across the UK, exploring the characteristics of these investments and how they’ve performed over time. We also profiled the 10 companies that had secured the largest amount of funding from the crowd in 2020.
Life sciences is a broad sector, encompassing biotech, pharmaceuticals, and biomedical technologies, and more recently becoming intertwined with AI. This article looked at top investors, and spotlighted the 10 most-funded companies actively operating in the sector. We also included key stats like how 32% of the UK’s high-growth life sciences space had been spun-out from academic institutions—ten times the rate across all sectors.
In collaboration with Triple Point, we carried out an in-depth exploration of the 2,724 acquisitions and IPOs completed by high-growth private companies in the UK since 2011. The report highlighted the increasing maturity of the UK’s growth ecosystem, despite a retrenchment in exit numbers during 2019.
Six months on from initial lockdown measures, we compared the findings from our initial COVID-19 Business Impact report with our most up-to-date figures. From particularly vulnerable areas to those likely to see a positive impact, we looked at how the situation had progressed between April and September 2020.
Working alongside the Scaleup Institute, we published the fourth edition of our comprehensive annual analysis of UK scaleups. 2019 fell slightly short of the 2017 record for total equity investment into scaleups, at £5.32b. Alongside investment figures, the report included data on people, regions, and sectors, plus a directory of all 7,464 visible scaleups in the UK!
Last month, our data team hit another fantastic milestone, with 200k person profiles on our platform, including founders, C-Suite executives, and directors. Person profiles help our subscribers to find out more about key employees and shareholders at the companies they’re interested in, and to approach them directly through email, phone, or Linkedin, with verified contact details.
The most recent addition to our website, the Diversity Hub, is our new home for publications and resources on matters of diversity, including gender, race and ethnicity, disability, LGBTQ+, and age. Diversity has been proven to fuel growth and innovation, and we believe that imperfect data shouldn’t stop us (or others) from analysing the issues of diversity in the UK’s business landscape.
We want to thank everyone who has supported the UK’s startups and scaleups this year. We’re feeling positive about the future of the high-growth space, and looking forward to what 2021 has to bring, with loads of exciting new content and product releases in the works. In the meantime, make sure to sign up to our newsletter below, or follow us on Linkedin and Twitter, to keep up-to-date with all things Beauhurst!