London, according to a new report from Dealroom and London & Partners, is Europe’s global tech city. If 2020 was a record year for European tech funding, London was at the epicentre of the funding action. London-based startups attracted just over a quarter of the total $43.1 billion in VC capital that flowed across Europe this year.
At the same time, London’s tech profile is also expanding beyond its status as the fintech capital of the world, attracting half of all European fintech investments and home to some of the globally recognised fintech unicorns. Dealroom reports that even as London continues to bring in fintech venture capital, startups in other sectors, like healthtech and transport, are garnering global investor attention.
Yes, compared to 2019, total funding was off a wee bit, and the city remains stuck in the second position for fastest-growing tech hub in the world for the fifth year running. But with consistent 11-figure funding rounds and a self-reinforcing ecosystem of talent, capital and managed service providers, London continues to hold and build on the attention of the global tech industry.
According to another report, from Beauhurst, there 276 tech-based startups in the UK that raised equity for the first time in 2020. Of these, 141 were located in London and 41 raised over £1m.
So with all tech roads leading to London, here’s our list of the 15 tech startups to watch out for in London in 2021.
Click on the icons below to view 15 tech startups to watch out for in London in 2021:
Only two of these startups were launched last year, with the oldest on the list launching way back in 2015. But all of the listed startups have raised capital in the trying year gone by and each one of them continues the rich London tech ecosystem tradition of disrupting key business processes and industries.
#1 Tech Startup - Ki Insurance
Founder/CEO: Mark Allan
Latest Funding: $500M (~ £366M) (Private Equity)
Ki Insurance is a first-of-its-kind fully digital insurance startup that spun out as a standalone business from commercial insurance specialist Brit Insurance. The Ki service, built in partnership with University College London, seeks to redefine the commercial insurance market with the first algorithmically-driven Lloyd’s of London syndicate.
Scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter this year, Ki will enable brokers to search for insurance through a Google-like search function with the proprietary algorithm then making a transparent and real-time offer based on the clients’ risk appetite, exposure and portfolio.
LinkedIn: Ki Insurance
#2 Tech Startup - Peptone
Founder/CEO: Kamil Tamiola, Matt Heberling
Latest Funding: $2.5M (~ £1.84M) (Seed)
Peptone bills itself as a Molecular Computational Physics startup that is building the world’s first Protein Engineering Operating System (PeOS) by combining generative AI with state of the art Computational Molecular Physics. The company’s AI-orchestrated operating system is designed to completely automate protein drug engineering and accelerate the pace at which lab-quality molecules are generated at a fraction of the current costs.
Investors in Peptone’s seed round led by Hoxton Ventures also included dRx Capital, a venture investments company from pharma major Novartis, Founders Factory and several angel investors.
#3 Tech Startup - NearSt
Founder/CEO: Max Kreijn, Nick Brackenbury, Thomas Schoffelen
Latest Funding: £2M (Seed)
NearSt is a Google-backed retail technology platform designed to enable brick and mortar retailers to present their live inventory to local customers searching for products nearby. The company aims to make local shopping as quick and convenient as online shopping by connecting Real-Time Local Inventory data to the sites, apps and services already being used by shoppers.
The NearSt technology is already being used by companies like Google and Facebook to showcase live in-store inventory to shoppers on their platforms.
#4 Tech Startup - Contingent
Latest Funding: $2.3M (~ £1.7M) (Seed)
Category: Supply Chain Risk Management
Contingent is an intelligence platform for procurement, compliance and operational resilience leaders to proactively predict, manage and monitor third-party and supplier risk. Designed and built by a team of financial risk technology veterans and AI researchers, the company’s SaaS product provides a real-time comprehensive analysis of suppliers and businesses in order to help companies comply with regulation, de-risk exposure and prevent fraud.
The seed funding will help the company accelerate product development, expand the number of key supply chain risk parameters in the assessment process, deliver analytic support to measure fragility and resilience in clients’ supply chains, and improve integration with enterprise systems.
#5 Tech Startup - Metrikus (formerly Asset Mapping)
Founder/CEO: Adrian Purvis, Gary Cottle, Juan Quintas, Michael Grant
Latest Funding: £2.5M (Series A)
Category: Smart Buildings
Metrikus is a digital solution that connects all of a building's assets and sensors to a single platform to provide 24/7, real-time information that can help understand and optimise the building's environment, maintenance, usage and health.
This unified approach can deliver a range of unique insights and analysis into many areas, including critical asset maintenance, space utilisation and health of a building's physical environment.
#6 Tech Startup - Homeppl
Founder/CEO: Alexander Siedes, Elran Kadosh, Ohad Shalev
Latest Funding: $2M (~ £1.5M) (Seed)
Category: Rental Inclusion
Homeppl offers a unique technology to assess and validate tenants’ true transactional and rental abilities in order to reduce discrimination, expand the pool of tenants and protect rent and properties for landlords.
The solution leverages Open Banking technologies, unique fraud detection tests, behavioural analysis, and proprietary algorithms to enhance the accuracy of the tenant referencing process. Homeppl clients include Foxtons, Knight Frank, OpenRent, and the Countrywide Group.
#7 Tech Startup - Uncapped
Founder/CEO: Asher Ismail, Piotr Pisarz
Latest Funding: $26M (Venture Series Unknown)
Category: Revenue-based financing for startups
Uncapped is a London-headquartered and Warsaw-based startup that provides growth finance as the third option at a flat fee as low as 6% for European entrepreneurs. As Europe’s first revenue-based finance provider, Uncapped does not require founders to dilute their equity, as in the VC model, and the capital has to be repaid only after the businesses start generating revenue.
The company recently partnered with Salt Edge, a leader in offering open banking solutions, to accelerate data verification from the client’s bank accounts and further streamline the funding process.
#8 Tech Startup - Knoma
Founder/CEO: Brett Shanley
Latest Funding: £21M (Series A)
Category: Education Finance
Knoma is a knowledge marketplace and payment solution that aims to revolutionise education by making life-long tech learning accessible to everyone.
The startup’s business model democratises funding for tech and coding courses by eliminating typical barriers, such as upfront payment and high-interest loans, and providing a simple, zero-interest zero-fees payment solution. Learners can avail loans of up to £10,000 with flexible monthly payments spread across 12 months. The company’s Knowledge Marketplace lists leading tech and coding courses from around the world.
#9 Tech Startup - Audoo
Founder/CEO: Ryan Edwards
Latest Funding: $6.9M (~ £5.2M) (Series A)
Category: Music Royalty Payments
Audoo focuses on bringing transparency to the music industry by using technology to revolutionise performance royalties. Royalties in the music industry are typically calculated based on rough estimates from radio play and manual data entry.
The Audoo solution features an audio meter that plugs into commercial establishments, captures a digital imprint of the music played and then relays the information in real-time to Performance Rights Organisations (PROs). By digitising the process, the startup ensures that royalty distribution is transparent, fair and accurate.
#10 Tech Startup - Hopin
Founder/CEO: Johnny Boufarhat
Latest Funding: $125M (~ £92M) (Series B)
Category: Virtual Events Platform
Hopin is a first-of-its-kind all-in-one event platform that, unlike the more ubiquitous Zoom, is designed to host a range of virtual events, from a 50-person recruiting event to a 50,000-person annual conference. Each virtual venue features multiple interactive areas that attendees can move through, just as in in-person events, to engage and connect with content.
The flexible yet secure platform allows organisers to host private and password-protected events, hidden and invite-only gatherings or even sell tickets. In January 2021, the barely two-year-old startup acquired live-streaming studio Streamyard for a reported $250 million.
#11 Tech Startup - Heroes
Founder/CEO: Alessio Bruni, Riccardo Bruni
Latest Funding: $65M (~ £48M) (Venture - Series Unknown)
Heroes is a technology-driven eCommerce company that acquires, operates, and scales small and medium-sized Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) brands. The company’s focus is on acquiring category-winning products in high-growth niches by offering these businesses an exit opportunity and then leveraging Heroes’ infrastructure and expertise to scale these companies internationally.
With its latest funding round, Heroes is better positioned to support over 2.3 million brand owners and work towards the long-term goal of becoming Europe's largest operator and acquirer of Amazon FBA brands.
#12 Tech Startup - Quell Therapeutics
Founder/CEO: Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo, Giovanna Lombardi, Hans Stauss, Marc Martinez-Llordella
Latest Funding: £35M (Series A)
Category: Cell Therapy
Quell Therapeutics aspires to be the leading Cell Therapy player in the Immune Dysregulation Field with the focus on developing engineered T regulatory (Treg) cell therapies that add transformational value to a range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
The company has also entered into multiple collaborative research agreements, most notably with the University of Sheffield and the Hannover Medical School in order to accelerate its pipeline expansion into various diseases.
LinkedIn: Quell Therapeutics
#13 Tech Startup - Karakuri
Founder/CEO: Barney Wragg
Latest Funding: $8.4M (~ £6.3M) (Undisclosed)
Karakuri is a robotics startup with a focus on ushering in the fourth industrial revolution for food. Their vision is to change the way the world prepares, offers and experiences convenience food with an emphasis on enabling healthier eating, improving choice and quality, improving staff well-being and reducing food waste.
Just over a month ago, the company unveiled its automated canteen, the DK-One, a high volume, quick turnaround solution with a range of potential applications in restaurants, buffets, hotels and supermarkets. The company also offers Marley, a lower cost, lower throughput solution for smaller-scale applications.
#14 Tech Startup - Wagestream
Founder/CEO: Peter Briffett, Portman Wills
Latest Funding: $25M (~ £20M) (Series B)
Category: Financial Management
Wagestream is an Earned Wage Access service that allows users to access the portion of their wages that have already worked for. Employees can use the Wagestream app to track their earnings, stream earned wages and also get access to financial education tools to improve their financial resilience. Employers, meanwhile, can use their Enterprise HR Analytics platform to review their financial wellbeing strategy and get real-time visibility over engagement, retention and the financial resilience of employees.
Wagestream already serves several high profile customers such as Brewdog, Honest Burgers, Rentokil and five NHS trusts with its reach extending to almost 300,000 workers.
#15 Tech Startup - Flown
Founder/CEO: Alicia Navarro
Latest Funding: £1.20M (Pre-seed)
Category: Working Place Rental
Flown is an online platform that creates ideal mental and physical spaces to help knowledge workers achieve deep work by thinking and working more creatively and productively.
The platform will offer ergonomic and functional workspaces, as well as a set of digital tools and resources to enhance creativity and focus, based on deep work principles to allow knowledge workers to take a break from their day-to-day environments and do their best work.
These, then, are some of the most promising and innovative London-based startups that, we believe, will go on to make global headlines in the years to come.
The tech sector is playing a crucial role in helping us deliver an economy that works for everyone through a modern Industrial Strategy for jobs and growth.
It’s certainly an exciting time for the UK digital tech industry, and here at zsah – a London-based award-winning Cloud and IT Managed Services provider – we are privileged to be a part of the ecosystem that has made London a world-class tech hub.
We’d be glad to hear from you in case we can assist you in any way to launch or scale up your startup businesses.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Hopefully you’ve discovered something new on this list that is going to transform your business for the better. But, it is by no means exhaustive.
So, the question is – who have we missed?
Let us know which UK Tech startups you’ll be keeping a beady eye on in 2021 in comments below or by reaching out to us on Twitter – @zsahLTD – and LinkedIn - zsah- and we’ll continue to update this list throughout the year with your worthy suggestions.
Enjoy our article? You might be interested in this blog post as well 10 Fast-Growing SaaS Startups to Follow in London. Happy reading!