15 Hottest Tech Startups in the UK 2020

| Annabel Beales

Since 2011 the UK’s tech startups and scaleups have collectively raised £37b in announced equity funding. Whilst investment activity has slowed during the pandemic, the UK’s best and brightest technology startup companies have still secured some large sums of money. 

In this post, we’ve profiled the UK’s best tech startups, based on the largest funding rounds secured in 2020 so far. The resulting companies have developed innovative products and ambitious business plans, and secured the necessary funding to implement them.

Top tech startups in the UK 2020

Rank Company name Funds raised in 2020 Total funds raised Year founded
Bought By Many
Tokamak Energy
Thought Machine

 1. Revolut  

Founded: 2013
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 8
Total funds raised: £627m
Funds raised in 2020: £383m

revolut logo

Fintech startup Revolut operates a challenger bank which provides an app on which users can trade cryptocurrency, track and send money, as well as a range of other financial services. Since raising £180m in 2018 the bank has expanded globally, opening up in Australia and Singapore in 2019 and the United States in 2020. Named Deloitte’s fastest growing fintech company in 2019, Revolut now has over 10 million customers across 35 countries. 

Users with personal accounts can manage their money with spending insights, budgeting tools and open banking. They are also able to buy multiple cryptocurrencies and gold, send money abroad at the real exchange rate and enjoy discounts and cashback at popular retailers. 

Business account holders can issue smart company cards, enabling them to track employees’ spending in real-time, manage subscriptions and automate expenses. Revolut business accounts also integrate with popular softwares such as Xero and Slack to help operations run seamlessly. 

To date, the company has secured eight funding rounds, two of which included participation from crowdfunding platforms, Seedrs and Crowdcube. Its latest round, in February of this year, totalled £383m and set a pre-money valuation of £3.9b.

 2. Zopa  

Founded: 2004
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 11
Total funds raised: £411m
Funds raised in 2020: £275m

zopa logo

Zopa is the first ever peer-to-peer lending startup. Since launching in 2005, it has given £5b in personal loans and generated £280m in interest for 60,000 active investors. In March 2020, The company raised £275m backed by undisclosed investors, bringing its total funds raised to £411m. 

This year Zopa announced the launch of Zopa bank, starting with an innovative credit card and fixed-term savings accounts at competitive rates. Zopa bank aims to meet customers’ needs in areas where traditional banks fall down. 

Investors in Zopa have their money spread across individual borrowers; one single borrower will never see more than 1% of one investors’ money. Zopa also enforces direct debit repayment and asks borrowers to sign a legal contract to mitigate risk. Investors can see projected returns of 3.4-6% over three years minimum. 

Borrowers can apply for personal loans from £1,000 to £25,000, but only 20% of applicants are approved in order to minimise risk for investors. Zopa offers an app to both investors and borrowers to manage their money. This enables borrowers to utilise a ‘soft’ credit score check to avoid impacting their score and apply for a loan in minutes —a departure from a traditional bank loans system.

 3. OneTrust  

Founded: 2016
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 2
Total funds raised: £322m
Funds raised in 2020: £162m

Onetrust logo

OneTrust develops enterprise software designed to help users manage security, privacy and third-party risk. The tech company raised £160m in its first funding round in 2019, at which point it was classified as a unicorn company. It raised its second funding round earlier this year, securing a further £162m. Insight partners, a venture capital and private equity firm, led both funding rounds. Today, OneTrust’s SaaS model provides over 6,000 customers with programs allowing them to comply with hundreds of privacy and security laws, all over the world. The company  is headquartered jointly in the United States and the UK, with additional offices in Bangalore, San Francisco, Melbourne, New York, Sao Paulo, Munich, Hong Kong and Bangkok. 

OneTrust offers three primary softwares, which can be used individually or integrated to use together. OneTrust Privacy Management Software helps organisations  keep track of how they collect and keep data. OneTrust Preference Choice is for marketers; it helps them to be clear in their engagement efforts and provide options to their consumers. OneTrust Vendorpedia helps to assess any third parties and vendors, mitigating risk for owners by assessing how safe they are to work with.

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The fintech top 50 +5

 4. Cazoo  

Founded: 2018
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 5
Total funds raised: £205m
Funds raised in 2020: £125m

Cazoo Logo

Cazoo operates a digital platform from which users can buy used cars. The tech startup is relatively new; it was founded in December 2018, and launched late December 2019 having set a record for raising over £180m pre-launch. Cazoo has already secured two further funding rounds this year, one in March worth £100m, and the other in June for £25m. Investors include venture capital firms Draper Esprit, General Catalyst, Octopus Ventures and Stride.VC. 

Cazoo’s business model has weathered coronavirus well, as customers are able to buy their car entirely online and get it delivered to their door. Cars are fully cleaned and reconditioned before being dropped off, which can be done while maintaining social distancing. 

Cazoo’s new technology allows customers to inspect a car from every angle on the inside and outside. Each car owned by Cazoo has passed a 150-point inspection, minimising risk to the buyer. A 7-day money back guarantee and week’s free insurance allow purchasers to test the car and see how it fits into their lifestyle before committing. Finance applications, paying a deposit and making the final agreement are also done completely online. 

 5. Checkout.com  

Founded: 2012
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 2
Total funds raised: £298m
Funds raised in 2020: £121m

Checkout.com logo

Checkout.com’s new technology allows businesses to process their payments online in multiple currencies, and simplifies a previously lengthy and convoluted process. In 2019, checkout.com’s first funding round raised £176m at a reported valuation just shy of $2b. Coate, a tech sector hedge fund investing in public and private equity markets, led its second funding round this year, which totalled £121.5m. The company now has 13 offices globally, in locations including London, Singapore  and silicon valley

Checkout.com’s payments platform covers 150 currencies and domestic processing in nearly 50 countries. It is fully customisable, allowing users to quickly process popular regional payment methods. Users are protected against fraud and provided with data and insights to help them stay on top of their finances. Checkout.com’s SaaS-model pricing is based entirely on a business’s profile and risk category.

 6. Graphcore  

Founded: 2016
Location: Bristol
Total funding rounds: 6
Total funds raised: £365m
Funds raised in 2020: £116m

Graphcore Logo

Graphcore has developed a processor optimised for machine-learning tasks, and technology to accelerate artificial intelligence and machine learning applications both in servers and in the cloud. It also provides an open source machine learning development framework in C++ and Python. The company launched in 2016 and raised £24.5m in its first funding round, just five months after inception. Graphcore reached unicorn status in 2018 with a £158m funding round backed by various investors, including Atomico, Amadeus Capital Partners and Draper Esprit. The company raised a further £116m earlier this year. Today, Graphcore has offices across the UK, the United States and Asia. 

The Graphcore IPU products launched in 2019, supporting industries such as finance, healthcare and telecommunications. The  IPU allows developers to accelerate complex current models and create new techniques, which in turn will radically speed up machine learning. The IPU supports complex data, promises a faster result time and is designed to scale. Its training and inference flexibility improves the cost of ownership. 

The tech company’s Poplar software integrates with Tensort Flow and ONNX to develop existing machine intelligence tools and machine learning models. Developers have access to Open Source Poplar libraries to support common machine learning. The software is intuitive to use and users can have full control of the processor if they choose.

 7. Snyk  

Founded: 2015
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 7
Total funds raised: £199m
Funds raised in 2020: £115m

snyk logo

Snyk is a software company that helps developers to ensure their code is secure by continuously finding and fixing open-source vulnerabilities. The cybersecurity startup raised £2.11m in its first funding round in 2016 at a pre-money valuation of £6.9m. Four years later, in January 2020, the company reached unicorn status in a £115m round backed by various American venture firms. Snyk now has offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Israel, and customers including Google, Nordstrom and Salesforce. 

Snyk offers four main products: Snyk Open Source, Snyk Container, Snyk Intel Vulnerability DK Access and Snyk Licence Compliance Management. Users can begin by trying its major features and up to 200 open-source vulnerability tests for free. Standard and Pro package pricing will depend on the size of the developer team; any team larger than 150 people will require an enterprise package. Integrations with tech products, SaaS and cloud platforms, and Marketplaces allow Snyk to fit seamlessly into an organisation’s existing operations.

 8. Arrival  

Founded: 2015
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 5
Total funds raised: £318m
Funds raised in 2020: £85.5m

arrival logo

Arrival designs and manufactures commercial electric vehicles that cost the same or less than petrol and diesel-equivalents . Its network of public transport vehicles will help create sustainable urban environments that meet emissions targets. Arrival is headquartered in the UK with offices across the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Russia and Luxembourg. This year Arrival secured a €100m (£85.5m) investment from Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation. JP Morgan acted as advisor to the round, and reported that a company valuation of €3.3b. 

Earlier this year, Arrival revealed its zero-emission, financially viable bus. It can be adapted to social distancing measures and is designed with a sense of space and cleanliness in mind for a ‘new normal’. 

Arrival’s unique technology allows for all of its vehicles to be assembled in local Microfactories, which will benefit the local community through employment and paying local taxes. They plan to have set up 1000 by 2026.

 9. iwoca  

Founded: 2011
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 8
Total funds raised: £301m
Funds raised in 2020: £85.3m

iwoca logo

iwoca provides small businesses with a faster, more flexible alternative to banking finance, as their new technology quickly and easily approves loans. Since 2012, iwoca has awarded loans to over 50,000 small businesses, and had issued over £1b in funding by 2019. Today, the company has a team of 300 across London and Frankfurt. The company has raised £301m to date. It’s latest funding round was completed in February 2020, and saw Insight Investment inject £85.3m into the business. 

iwoca is an official provider of the government’s CBILS loan, which enables small businesses affected by COVID-19 to borrow between £50,000 to £250,000 over three years. The first year is payment and interest free, and borrowers are able to repay early with no fees. The loan is available to current iwoca customers and will soon be rolled out to new customers. 

This year, iwoca launched iwocaPay to support small businesses impacted by lengthy and delayed payments from suppliers due to COVID-19. iwocaPay offers flexible payments to suppliers, who can pay in 30 days’ time for free, or spread their payment out over 90 days. Meanwhile, business owners will be paid upfront for any purchases amounting between £150 and £15,000, meaning their cash flow is uninterrupted.

Have you read our latest report on 2020 equity investment trends yet?

 10. Onfido  

Founded: 2010
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 10
Total funds raised: £174m
Funds raised in 2020: £79.2m

Onfido Logo

Powered by artificial intelligence, Onfido’s online platform allows companies to remotely assess whether a government-issued ID is genuine and ownership is legitimate. Onfido has raised £174m in total, and £79m in 2020 alone. Investments were led by TPG, an American private equity firm. Today, Onfido helps over 1,500 customers across industries such as banking, government and recruitment verify applicants and customers. Its 400-strong team is spread across the world in Europe (London and Paris), the United States (San Francisco and New York), Delhi and Singapore. 

Onfido’s product is app-based: users just need a smartphone device and an ID. The app will check that the ID is not fraudulent. On the other end, the applicant or customer takes a selfie or video, and the technology will use facial biometrics to assess their ownership of the ID. Onfido uses a team of AI and human experts to mitigate risk, and users can repeat the process whenever they need to.

 11. Bought By Many  

Founded: 2011
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 7
Total funds raised: £111m
Funds raised in 2020: £78.4m

bought-by-many logo

Bought By Many launched in 2012 to offer bespoke and well-priced insurance in a sector that typically treated consumers poorly. In 2015, it launched a SaaS platform in China, and in 2017, following its fourth funding round, launched Bought By Many Cat + Dog insurance. It is now one of the major players in insurtech, and has three offices across the UK. 

Bought by Many uses data and social media to identify problems with existing insurance, off the back of which they develop their own insurance plans. It offers six different pet insurance plans, all of which offer lifetime cover and unlimited free video calls with a FirstVet. It has no unfair charges or penalties and will contact the Vet for you to claim, as well as producing insurance guides to increase understanding for pet owners.

 12. Behavox  

Founded: 2014
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 6
Total funds raised: £150m
Funds raised in 2020: £77.2m

behavox logo

Behavox software uses AI to analyse internal data to assist companies with regulatory and compliance risk. It is backed by various venture capital funds including Index Ventures and Hoxton Ventures, and this year announced a £77.2m investment from Softbank Vision Fund 2. Behavox has offices in the UK, the United States, Canada and Singapore. 

Behavox uses machine learning to help people teams in the financial industries with improving customer service, corporate culture, and increasing operational effectiveness. It uses machine learning and 80 algorithms to analyse text and audio data, before providing users with reporting, visualisations and case management. Behavox also partners with Google Cloud, PWC and Behavox uses machine learning to help people teams in the financial industries with improving customer service, corporate culture, and increasing operational effectiveness. It uses machine learning and 80 algorithms to analyse text and audio data, before providing users with reporting, visualisations and case management. Behavox also partners with Google Cloud, PWC and AWS (Amazon Web Services) among others to integrate with existing operations. 

 13. Privitar  

Founded: 2014
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 6
Total funds raised: £120m
Funds raised in 2020: £71m

Privitar Logo

Privitar’s new technology protects customer data to allow the safe and ethical mining of data sets primarily in the financial services, healthcare and retail sectors. Privitar runs on a SaaS model, and raised £71m in its latest funding round. Investors included HSBC, private equity firm Warburg Pincus, and venture capital firms including Accel and Partech. Privitar has offices throughout the United States, Europe and Asia; its headquarters in Europe are in London and Boston.

Privitar offers a data privacy platform that allows users to apply consistent privacy policies, de-identify customers, and trace provenance to optimise their data usage. Their de-identification platform offers multiple techniques which can be chosen or combined to suit the users’ needs. Integrations including the Google Cloud platform, AWS and Azure allow Privitar to fit seamlessly into most customer’s operations.

 14. Tokamak Energy  

Founded: 2009
Location: Oxfordshire
Total funding rounds: 10
Total funds raised: £123m
Funds raised in 2020: £67m

tokamak logo

Tokamak Energy aims to advance the development of energy production by the process of fusion, through using devices that combine plasma in a magnetic field along with superconductors. Its mission is to find a ‘faster way to fusion’, from which it believes a clean and sustainable energy source for the world will be created. Its latest funding round in January 2020 raised £67m, and it has also recently been named one of the Sunday Times’ Disruptors to Watch. 

Tokamak Energy have built new technology based on existing science to create their unique compact spherical tokamak design, which is widely accepted as the smallest and most cost-effective way to achieve fusion. The technology now needs to be demonstrable and commercialised; once this is achieved it will be rolled out, bringing the world closer to a clean and sustainable energy source.

 15. Thought Machine  

Founded: 2015
Location: London
Total funding rounds: 5
Total funds raised: £90.8m
Funds raised in 2020: £64.9m

thought machine logo

Founded in 2014, tech startup Thought Machine combines machine learning and big data to develop retail banking software, enabling banks to centrally manage a range of financial products. The company’s core product, Vault, provides a cloud-based end-to-end check point system.

To date, Thought Machine has secured a total of £90.8m through five funding rounds. In March 2020, it received £64.9m in equity fundraising led by Draper Esprit, and with contributions from Backed VC, IQ Capital Fund, Playfair Capital and Lloyds Banking Group. Following this, in May 2020, Thought Machine announced it had been selected to join Mastercard Start Path – an industry collaboration which helps banks, merchants and startups to provide new tech solutions for the payments industry.

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