A major new survey just released by Dealroom and London & Partners shows that not only has London been the second fastest-growing mature tech ecosystem in the world since 2016, but it is also the only European city in the global top 10 for VC investment since 2016. These two factors mean that London’s dominance over other European centres, and indeed over many other global centres, is only increasing. London is fifth in the world ranking, only behind Beijing, San Francisco, New York, and Shanghai.
For this to have happened during 2020 underlines the fact that despite the global pandemic funds continued to be available for the right companies with the right stories. But perhaps even more telling is the level of strength shown when set against all the uncertainties that Brexit brought with it last year.
Not only is London the preferred destination for VC investors, with a third of all new European funds having been raised there in the last two years, but London startups also attract high levels of international investor interest, particularly at later stages of growth. Cross boarder European investment tends to dominate smaller and earlier stage raises, whilst investors from North America and Asia increasingly dominate larger and later stage rounds.
Taking all the different levels and stages of rounds together, London startups have a more internationally diverse mix of investors compared to other European tech ecosystems, with 57% of capital coming from outside Europe. The fact that the London fintech ecosystem has such width and depth will only continue to act as a magnet to attract more fintech companies to be based there, and ever more fresh investment funds to invest in those companies.
Fintech remained the favoured sector for VC investment in London, representing 41% of funds deployed, equating to some $4.3bn. These figures do not include enterprise software or cybersecurity which represented a further 17% and 6% of funds invested respectively.
In 2020, London raised almost half of all Europe’s fintech capital. The importance of this cannot be over estimated as the fintech sector ranks number one in both Europe as a whole, and in London specifically, for unicorns and those businesses that are expected to become unicorns in the future. Over 38% of European fintech unicorns are based in London and, from a wider perspective, London is the unicorn capital of Europe, with over four times as many unicorns based there compared to the second highest ranking city, Berlin.
Whilst these statistics are impressive enough, and undoubtedly cover the vast majority of funds raised, it is important to remember that they are based only on funds invested by VC firms. The amount of pre-seed, seed, and even series A funding, that goes into the fintech sector from crowdfunding, HNWIs / UHNWIs, family offices, and the like, not only adds to the amount of funds invested, but it is also crucial in ensuring that fintech companies are able to raise the initial funds to grow sufficiently to then be able to attract funding from VCs in the future.
The message seems to be clear that pandemic or no pandemic, Brexit or no Brexit, if you run a European based fintech that is looking for funding, or will be looking for funding in the future, then London seems to be the place to be, and its dominance only looks set to rise.
in British English