U.K.’s tech unicorns honored with ever-changing statue in NYC

The United Kingdom is honoring its unicorns — or startups with a valuation above $1 billion — with its Ever-Changing Statue in New York City.

The U.K. government’s GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland campaign unveiled The Ever-Changing Statue, a unique 3D-hologram installation that showcases the U.K.’s status as the third-largest tech investment destination globally.

The U.K. has over 160 unicorn companies valued at staggering amounts, some reaching up to $18 billion.

Commissioned by GREAT and created by British company HYPERVSN, the Ever-Changing Statue serves as a tribute to the U.K.’s vibrant tech ecosystem.

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Unlike traditional statues honoring past achievements, this installation rotates founders and CEOs of leading unicorn and futurecorn companies, including Quantexa, Blockchain, Octopus Energy Group, and Proximie. Located at Rise, created by Barclays, in New York, the statue will be on display until April 4, 2024.

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The United Kingdom has the third-largest tech economy after the U.S. and China.

The U.K. has emerged as a powerhouse in the tech world, ranking as the third country globally with a tech sector valued at over $1 trillion, trailing only behind the United States and China. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ambitious plan aims to solidify the U.K.’s position as a global tech superpower by 2030, with significant investments in key growth areas like quantum, supercomputing, and AI.

London alone attracted over $20 billion in VC investment in 2022. The U.K. is also home to 12 decacorns and remains in the top three in the world for unicorns across every key tech sector, despite being geographically 40x smaller than the US and China.

“The U.K.’s startup community has long punched above its weight, and this is no coincidence. The U.K. government has incubated a system that makes it easy to access capital, has done away with unnecessary red tape and funds innovation—spending £14 billion ($17.6 billion) on R&D in 2021 alone,” said Sunak, in a statement. “It’s only right that we celebrate the success of our startup community, and this statue does just that, showcasing innovative founders who have helped us grow the U.K. economy.”

The term “unicorn” was first coined a decade ago, representing companies valued at $1 billion or more. Today, unicorns constitute less than 1% of all venture-backed startups, yet the U.K. stands out, generating more unicorn companies than France and Germany combined.

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The list of unicorns from the U.K.

Saul Klein, managing partner at Phoenix Court — home to LocalGlobe, Latitude, Basecamp and Solar — said in a statement, “Over the past 20 years, the U.K. has become one of the leading tech ecosystems in the world, producing stellar companies such as DeepMind, Wise and Monzo. It’s been incredible to witness this shift and to see the impact that U.K.-born tech has had in Europe, the US and beyond. To continue this success, we need specialist knowledge and scalable capital to support the next generation of impactful founders.”

Fintech remains a stronghold for U.K. startups, ranking second globally in the number of unicorn companies, including Wise, Revolut, and Starling Bank.

Anne Boden MBE, founder and non-executive director at Starling Bank, said in a statement, “Achieving unicorn status not only underscores our relentless commitment to innovation but also highlights the tremendous potential of technology in the U.K. Starling Bank is proud to lead the charge in revolutionizing the financial landscape and to be featured in the Unicorn Kingdom campaign. We envision a future where cutting-edge solutions empower individuals and businesses alike, driving economic growth and prosperity for our nation.”

The U.K. is pretty good at making games too.

The Ever-Changing Statue not only celebrates the U.K.’s entrepreneurial spirit but also serves as a testament to its innovation and leadership in the global tech arena.

“We attribute much of our company’s success to the collaborative spirit and access to capital we have enjoyed in the U.K.,” said Oliver Kent-Braham, co-CEO of disruptive insurance carrier Marshmallow, in a statement. “We successfully built our company on supporting expats who come to the U.K. and need a fair deal on car insurance. There’s a correlation to be made with US investment opportunities—there is a fantastic option to support incredible innovation from startups that may not be US-based but who have the potential to make a significant impact on markets around the world.”

Here’s the unicorn list

1.    Anne Boden MBE: Starling Bank, Founder

2.    Tessa Clarke: Olio, CEO & Co-Founder

3.    Greg Jackson:  Octopus Energy Group, CEO & Founder

4.    Samantha Kempe: Immo, Co-Founder and CIO

5.    Alexander Kent-Braham: Marshmallow, Co-Founder & Co-CEO 

6.    Oliver Kent-Braham: Marshmallow, Co-Founder & Co-CEO

7.    Rishi Khosla OBE: OakNorth, CEO & Co-Founder

8.    Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram: Proximie, CEO & Founder

9.    Vishal Marria: Quantexa, CEO & Founder

10. Russell Sloan: Kainos, CEO 

11. Peter Smith:  Blockchain, CEO & Co-Founder

12. Paul Taylor: Thought Machine, CEO & Founder

13. Mike Tuchen: Onfido, CEO

14. Dr Ilana Wisby: Oxford Quantum Circuits, CEO & Founder

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