Big data, robotics and AI fuelling VC investment in London

Cutting-edge, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and big data are among the fastest growing areas for investment according to analysis of venture capital flows into London’s tech sector carried out by the founders of London Tech Week.

The findings reveal that London’s AI and machine learning companies have become particularly attractive for investors, with 20 times more investment in 2016 (£85.75 million) than the amount raised in 2011 (£3 million).

Table showing the top 5 fastest growing sub-sectors for venture capital investment into London technology companies from 1st January 2011 until 31st March 2017.

Sector % growth
Robotics and drones 30500
Big data 2602
AI and machine learning 2288
AdTech 826
E-commerce 539

Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal said: “London is the technology capital of Europe. With a rich melting pot of creative talent, London is leading the way in the development of emerging technologies such as mobile payments, big data and artificial intelligence. Our world-class tech sector is creating jobs and growth across the city, with Londoners working alongside the best and brightest from across Europe and all over the world.”

>See also: Why London will remain a global tech hub post-Brexit

“Since the referendum, London’s tech companies have attracted over £1 billion in venture capital investment, offering more proof that London remains open to investment, talent and innovation from all over the world.”

Over the past five years, London’s AI and machine learning companies have attracted over £207 million in venture capital investment, boosted by deals for London based companies such as Google’s DeepMind and Magic Pony1.

There has also been a sharp increase in VC pouring into London companies developing robotics and drone technologies, with over £14 million invested in 2016 compared with the small amounts invested in 2014 (£40,000) and 2015 (£70,000).

Starship Technologies, the company behind the takeaway delivery robots used by Just Eat and Domino’s, received £13.95 million seed funding in January 20172.

London’s position as a leading global hub for financial services and technology has seen fintech companies receive over £2 billion of VC investment in the last five years – greater than any other sector including SaaS, Mobile and e-commerce1.

London fintech companies saw strong investment in the first quarter of 2017 with over £177 million of funding since the beginning of the year – more than any other quarter in 2016.

>See also: Software innovation hub boosting London’s tech sector

Other sectors seeing high levels of venture capital funding in the past five years include e-commerce and AdTech with major deals for London based companies such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Unruly. And with more software developers than any other European city, big data, SaaS and cyber security all feature in the top 10 sub-sectors for venture capital investment into London companies since 20111.

Table showing the top 10 sub-sectors for venture capital investment into London technology companies from 1st January 2011 until 31st March 2017.

Sub-sector Amount invested (£) ‘000s
Fintech 2019.21
Mobile 1755.82
SaaS 1784.04
E-commerce 1556.15
Big data 334.26
AdTech 283.55
AI and machine learning 207.21
CleanTech 259.48
Marketing tech 193.48
Cyber security 109.27

NB: Data sourced from PitchBook, downloaded on 31/03/2017. Sub sectors defined by PitchBook

Major deals for Funding Circle (£82 million), Monzo (£22 million) and Currency Cloud (£20.27 million) offer further proof that investors still see London as a leading hub for fintech. This follows a report released last week by Deloitte which ranked London as the leading global fintech hub following the EU referendum.

>See also: London best place for women in tech, but lack of diversity remains

Investors continue to view London as one of the world’s fastest growing and most attractive tech hubs – despite the UK’s vote to leave the EU. In Q1 of this year, London tech firms received £395 million in venture capital investment – significantly more than total amount raised in Q4 of 2016 (£245 million).

In total, London tech companies have received over £1 billion in funding since the EU referendum – representing over 70% of the total £1.59 billion invested into UK tech firms since Brexit.

Russ Shaw, London Tech Week ambassador and founder of Tech London Advocates and added: “Over the course of the last decade London has become a global hub for the technology sector. More recently, our expertise in Fintech, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics has shown that the city is at the cutting edge of technological innovation.”

“London’s strength derives from the city’s diversity, rich pool of talent and global connections. This has been the basis for our considerable success, and it is important to protect these factors as our tech sector continues to create more jobs and wealth.”

Avatar photo

Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...