The Most Innovative Companies in the UK | 2022

Most Innovative Companies in the UK | 2022

08 May 2022


Searching for the UK’s most innovative companies? Here at Beauhurst, we use research and development (R&D) expenditure as an indicator of a company’s growth trajectory, and its ability to innovate within competitive markets. R&D is undertaken by ambitious businesses looking to introduce new products or services. 

According to BCG (Boston Consulting Group), 75% of businesses claim that innovation is among their top priorities, with this figure growing each year. Yet just 50% of them are actually committing sufficient resources to achieve this. Recognising its importance to the wider startup ecosystem, the UK Government encourages R&D investment through various incentives and tax relief schemes, including R&D tax credits for SMEs and the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) for large companies. 

We’ve put together a ranking of the 12 most innovative companies in the UK, based on their total R&D expenditure in 2021. This list only includes private businesses that are headquartered in the United Kingdom and currently operating at the Seed, Venture or Growth stages of evolution.

Despite the wealth of R&D-intensive industries in the high-growth ecosystem, this ranking is largely dominated by pharmaceuticals and other healthcare-focused tech companies. These impressive startups will play a vital role in shaping the UK’s position as a global leader in innovation—read on to find out who they are and how much they’re spending on research and development right now.



R&D spend in 2021: £16.2m
Sector: Mobile, TV & wireless media
Location: London

Founded in 2010 and based in London, YouView operates a hybrid television platform, known as ‘Simply Smart TV’. With its box system readily available on Amazon, the scaleup company comprises a partnership of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT and TalkTalk. It provides customers with over 70 live TV and radio channels, accessible at any time, with the option for add-ons like Netflix

The company has focused on providing tailored services to the over 65 age group in recent years, alongside a study into how social media impacts TV viewing habits. It was named on the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain high-growth list in both 2014 and 2015. 

Despite fears that some of its broadcasting partners may be withdrawing from the collaboration, YouView committed over £16.2m to research and development expenditure last year. Under their shareholder agreement, the BBC and ITV have also both agreed to invest a further £750k into YouView annually for next two years.


GammaDelta Therapeutics

R&D spend in 2021: £14.7m
Sector: Pharmaceuticals
Location: London

GammaDelta Therapeutics develops immunotherapeutic drugs, using gamma delta cells, to treat cancer and other diseases. The company was founded in 2016 by Adrian Hayday and Oliver Nussbaumer, and spun-out of the Francis Crick Institute and King’s College London. 

In June 2018, GammaDelta Therapeutics acquired Portuguese pharmaceuticals firm Lymphact. More recently, in 2021, the biotech startup formed a partnership with Takeda Pharmaceuticals, following several years of collaborationtogether, they’re paving the way for new technological advancements in cell therapies for cancer patients. GammaDelta has raised £36.2m in equity investment so far, from investors including Abingworth and Takeda.

GammaDelta Therapeutics put more than £14.7m towards further R&D last year. Much of this spending has gone towards the company’s current research into exploiting the activities of gamma delta T cells located within the human body dysregulated by cancer. In 2021, it announced its first in-human trial for GDX012 cell therapy for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia


MISSION Therapeutics

R&D spend in 2021: £12.7m
Sector: Pharmaceuticals
Location: Cambridge

Drug discovery and healthcare company MISSION Therapeutics aims to develop new products and therapies to inhibit the proliferation of tumorous cells, selectively targeting deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs) responsible for diseases such as kidney injury, mitochondria disease, and fibrosis. The biotech company is a spinout from the University of Cambridge.

MISSION invested £12.7m last year towards further research and development, and was authorised to initiate the first clinical trial for its lead DUB inhibitor MTX652 in 2022. On top of this, it has raised £98m in equity investment, from investors such as IP Group, the University of Cambridge Seed Funds and New York-based corporate venture capital fund Pfizer Venture Investments. The company has also received six innovation grants to date, totalling more than £4.45m.



R&D spend in 2021: £8.13m
Sector: Clinical diagnostics
Location: Newcastle

Newcastle-based medical technology company QuantuMDx strives to “pioneer multiplex diagnostic solutions for the real world”. It develops medical devices such as Q-POC, a portable diagnostic laboratory designed to provide rapid testing via DNA analysis. Founded in 2008, the innovative company has taken strides during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop new PCR technology, investing £8.13m in R&D in 2021. 

The company was featured in the BusinessCloud MedTech 50 high-growth ranking in 2021, and has also raised over £72.6m in five equity funding rounds so far. QuantuMDx’s investors include 3B Future Health Fund, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the government-backed Future Fund. QuantuMDx has also been awarded seven innovation grants, totalling more than £19.8m, to further assist their next generation healthcare research.


30 Technology

R&D spend in 2021: £7.94m
Sector: Healthcare products
Location: London

Founded in 2009, 30 Technology develops a range of nitric oxide-based therapeutics to treat conditions such as tuberculosis. Its business model uses next-generation medical technologies to unlock the potential of the compound. The London-based healthtech company has already created new technology like EdixoMed (a form of nitrous-oxide wound dressing for sufferers of diabetes) and invested a further £7.94m into R&D last year.

30 Technology was listed amongst the Top 100 of Britain’s Fastest Growing Businesses in 2017, and has secured six rounds of equity investment. In total, it has raised £35.6m (mostly via unannounced deals) from investors including Alida Capital. 30 Technology has also been awarded numerous innovation grants, grossing £650k in additional funding.


Sense Biodetection

R&D spend in 2021: £6.96m
Sector: Clinical diagnostics
Location: East of England

Huntingdonshire-based Sense Biodetection aims to transform healthcare through redefining diagnostics of severe medical illnesses. Founded in 2013, the company has developed a series of new products, such as handheld screening devices and disposable tests, to detect and diagnose infections and diseases. Its ultra sensitive testing methods eradicate the need for complex hardware.

Sense Biodetection has secured £58.4m worth of equity fundraisings so far, from investors such as Mercia, Cambridge Innovation Capital, and angel networks OION and Angels in MedCity. It has also been awarded an additional £2.40m in funding, via seven large innovation grants. The life sciences firm’s Veros COVID-19 testing kit received CE Marking recently amidst the COVID pandemic and, in 2021, it committed £6.96m to further research and development.



R&D spend in 2021: £6.67m
Sector: Digital security
Location: London

Southwark-based Privitar places privacy at the forefront of its business model, with concerns over data corruption and infringement in social media and cloud usage growing every day. Privitar’s digital security software allows organisations to mine sensitive data sets and maximise their data usage, whilst still preserving the privacy of the underlying individuals. 

Founded in 2014, Privitar has attended the PwC Scale Programme, as well as Tech Nation’s Future Fifty accelerator for late-stage tech businesses. It has also gained a great deal of notoriety in high-growth lists, including the FT 1000, The FinTech50 and the Deloitte Fast 50. 

The innovative company has secured six rounds of equity fundraisings so far, totalling £122m, from backers such as 24Haymarket, ABN AMRO and Cambridge Angels. It invested £6.67m last year into research and development, contributing to the launch of The Privitar Data Provisioning Platform in 2021.



R&D spend in 2021: £6.55m
Sector: Precision medicine
Location: Oxford

The key being in the name, Genomics is a healthcare-focused tech startup which has developed analytics for genome sequencing diagnostics. Its unique technology assesses genetic and non-genetic factors through machine learning, to detect the susceptibility of individuals to illnesses such as cancer, autoimmune disease and diabetes, before they take hold. 

Founded in 2014 by four of the world’s leading human geneticists from the University of Oxford, the innovative life sciences spinout has raised £66.2m in equity funding so far. Its backers include F-Prime Capital Partners, Oxford Science Enterprises, Foresite Capital and Invesco. Genomics invested £6.55m towards R&D in 2021.



R&D spend in 2021: £4.17m
Sector: Pharmaceuticals
Location: Oxford

Yet another life sciences entry in this list of the UK’s most innovative companies, Oxular develops highly advanced treatments for sufferers of retinal disease. It aims to provide new products in retinal healthcare that are longer lasting and more efficient than any others to date.

The pharmaceuticals startup has secured five equity funding rounds so far, worth £49.6m in total, alongside four large innovation grants to aid its research. Oxular’s backers include Consort Medical, Forbion Capital Partners and Touchstone Innovations. 

The company spent £4.17m on research and development last year, assisting the development and distribution of its OxuspheresTM (a biodegradable polymer system which reduces how often vision-impaired individuals require treatment).



R&D spend in 2021: £3.38m
Sector: Business banking & financial services
Location: London

Quantexa has developed a large-scale technology platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and big data software, to flag illegal user activity and eliminate crime. Founded in 2016 and based in London, the fintech company has already incorporated its software into big corporations and tech giants such as Google and HSBC. 

Quantexa has attended the Future Fifty and Microsoft for Startups accelerator programmes, and been featured on a number of high-growth lists, from the FT 1000 to The Regtech 100 and Lazard T100 European Venture Growth Index. With five rounds of fundraising under its belt, Quantexa has also secured £181m in equity investment, from backers including Accenture, AlbionVC and HSBC. The startup invested £3.38m last year to its research and development expenditure.



R&D spend in 2021: £3.04m
Sector: Business banking & financial services
Location: London

Aiming to revolutionise the way we pay, Form3 has developed a next-generation payment technology platform. The fintech startup’s software is removing the need to keep up with constantly evolving payment regulations, instead offering agency payment services which are faster and safer. Paving the way for global innovation, the technology can also be used to scale markets worldwide without restraints. 

The London-based company invested £3.04m in research and development in 2021, having secured £155m in equity investment so far, from the likes of 83North, Molten Ventures, MasterCard and Barclays. Form3 has also attended the Mayor’s International Business Programme, and been listed in The FinTech50 and 100 FinTech Disrupters in both 2019 and 2020.



R&D spend in 2021: £2.67m
Sector: Analytics
Location: London

Founded in 2014, Faculty is an AI startup which combines human and artificial intelligence to help companies in analysing and understanding data. Through its use of AI technology, the innovative company holds a notable competitive advantage over other consulting services. Faculty partners with governmental organisations and private organisations alike, including the NHS COVID-19 Early Warning System, greatly assisting in the early pandemic response. 

Faculty attended Tech Nation’s Upscale accelerator in 2018 and has been featured on high-growth lists such as Fast Track’s Tech Track 100 and Startups 100. It has also secured £39.6m in equity investment, from investors such as Apax Partners, Guardian Media Group’s GMG Ventures and LocalGlobe. The company committed £2.67m to research and development last year, as it continues to improve its services.

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