Asian investments in UK tech startups skyrocket: Here are top 10 rounds in H1 2021


Within Asia, the country investing most heavily in UK tech is Japan. Other active investors from the region include Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and China. However, Japan’s dominance of Asian investment flows to the UK has become weaker in the last five years, as investors in other countries have backed investment opportunities here.

The increase in Asian investments matches wider investment trends across the country. Already, venture capital investment in the UK has reached £12.3bn in the first half of 2021, compared to £10.8bn for the whole of 2020.

Softbank leads the pack followed by GIC and DST Global. The five biggest Asian investors in the UK in 2020 were SoftBank, GIC, DST Global, Temasek and Tencent. Japan’s SoftBank remains the leading Asian investor in UK tech, but is joined by GIC (Singapore), DST Global (Hong Kong), Temasek (Singapore), and Tencent (China).

Investors from the Middle East, also included in Asian investment data, have stepped up their investment in the UK, challenging the dominance of Japan in particular. Between 2016 and 2020, Japan’s investment in UK tech has shrunk from 72% to 24%, as other investors in the region have stepped up their backing for UK tech startups and scaleups.

Investors from this region include the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which invested in Cinch, and the Qatar Investment Authority, which were involved in UK mega rounds including Starling Bank and Tandem.

At the time of writing, there are now 577 UK startups with Asian investors, we take a look at the 10 of them which got the most.

Image credits: Arrival


Funds raised in 2021: £475M

Asian investor/s: BlackRock, Fidelity Investments

London-based Tesla rival, Arrival is an electric mobility company founded in 2015 by Denis Sverdlov. It develops and manufactures zero-emission, public transport vehicles. The company also produces software, materials, components, and scalable skateboard platforms.

In March 2021, Arrival secured around $659 million (nearly £475 million) investment from a slew of investors including BNP Paribas, Wellington Management, BlackRock, Fidelity Investments, and CIIG Merger Co. Also, the company is now valued at £10 billion and made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

Image credits: Checkout


Funds raised in 2021: £324M

Asian investors: GIC, DST Global

London-based leading global payment solution provider Checkout.com is one of the most valuable fintech companies in the world. The fintech unicorn empowers businesses to adapt, innovate and thrive with Connected Payments, which makes payments seamless and provides flexible solutions.

In January 2021, the fintech company founded by Guillaume Pousaz in 2012 bagged $450 million (nearly £333 million) Series C funding in a round led by Tiger Global Management, LLC, Greenoaks Capital and existing investors – Insight Partners, DST Global, Coatue Management, Blossom Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, and Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund GIC.

Image credits: eToro


Funds raised in 2021: £650M

Asian investor/s: Softbank Vision Fund 2, Fidelity Investments

Social trading combines traditional trading practices with online communities and offers several advantages. eToro, a London-based social trading and multi-asset brokerage company provides financial and copy trading services. It has trading features including copy other traders, social news feed, your eToro profile and more.

Established in 2007 by Yoni Assia, in March this year, eToro closed $250 million in gross proceeds from FinTech V and $650 million in gross proceeds in public equity from ION Investment Group, Softbank Vision Fund 2, Third Point LLC, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, and Wellington Management. Also, it merged with FinTech V to be listed on NASDAQ.

Image credits: Deliveroo


Funds raised in 2021: £130M

Asian investor/s: Fidelity Investments

As online food delivery is booming right now amidst the pandemic crisis, several businesses in this sector are growing. London-based Deliveroo, an online food delivery giant founded by Will Shu and Greg Orlowski in 2013 is one such company gearing up to expand its presence globally.

In January this year, Deliveroo picked up $180 million (nearly £130 million) in a Series H funding round, which valued the company over $7 billion (nearly £5 billion). The funding round was led by existing shareholders Durable Capital Partners LP and Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC.

Image credits: Cazoo


Funds raised in 2021: £1.16M

Asian investor/s: Fidelity Investments, BlackRock

British unicorn Cazoo makes buying and selling cars online as easy as other products. The company is a pioneer that took car buying online in Europe. The company has delivered over 20,000 cars to consumers across the UK and assures them transparency and convenience of buying quality used cars directly from their homes.

Established in 2018 by Alex Chesterman, Cazoo bagged $1.6 billion (nearly £1.16 billion) including $805 million in a cash trust from the SPAC and another $800 million from Ajax’s sponsors. The round was led by AJAX sponsors and D1 Capital Partners and joined by new and existing investors including Altimeter, funds & accounts managed by BlackRock, Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley) and Fidelity Management and Research Company LLC, Marcho Partners, Mubadala Capital, Pelham Capital, Senator Investment Group and Spruce House Partnership.

The Hut Group
Image credits: The Hut Group

The Hut Group

Funds raised in 2021: £0.72B

Asian investor/s: SoftBank Group

Based out of Manchester, The Hut Group is an e-commerce company. It is an online retailing platform focused on fast-moving consumer goods, specifically focused on health and beauty. THG operates more than 160 websites that sell premium products across 140 markets.

In May, SB Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese investment giant SoftBank Group Corp, acquired a stake worth $2.33 billion (nearly £1.6 billion) in the company founded by Matthew Moulding and John Gallemore in 2004.

Starling Bank
Image credits: Starling Bank

Starling Bank

Funds raised in 2021: £322M

Asian investor/s: Fidelity Investments

In an era when the convenience of digital banking is on the rise, London-based Starling Bank has become the fastest-growing bank for small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. Founded in 2017 by Anne Boden, Starling Bank has over two million current accounts including 350,000 business accounts.

Earlier this year, the UK digital bank pocketed £322 million in an oversubscribed Series D funding round, which took its valuation to over £1.1 billion. The investors that took part in the round include Goldman Sachs, Fidelity, Qatar Investment Authority, RPMI Railpen, Millennium Management and Chrysalis Investments.

Image credits: Cinch


Funds raised in 2021: £1B

Asian investor/s: GIC

Similar to Cazoo, Farnham-based Cinch also works in the online B2C marketplaces for used cars in the UK. Its mission is to make it easy to buy cars online. As per the company, it has shifted over 45,000 cars since its debut in 2020.

Established by Dene Jones, the Cinch secured nearly £1 billion growth Capital from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Neuberger Berman Group, and Soros Fund Management and GIC for its expansion.

Image credits: Blockchain


Funds raised in 2021: £217M

Asian investor/s: Lightspeed Venture Partners, DST Global

Currently, the crypto market is at its cutting-edge and several startups are taking advantage of it. One such London-based company is Blockchain.com, which offers a platform to buy, hold, and use cryptocurrency. Founded in 2011 by Peter Smith, Ben Reeves and Nicolas Cary, it is one of the fastest-growing crypto companies from the UK.

In March this year, the UK company picked up $300 million (nearly £217 million) in a Series C funding round from Lightspeed Venture Partners, partners of DST Global, Baillie Gifford, and Vy Capital.

Image credits: Zego


Funds raised in 2021: £108M

Asian investor/s: DST Global

London-based Zego is an insurtech company founded in 2016 by Harry Franks and Sten Saar. The commercial motor insurance company combines advanced technology with multiple data sources to offer insurance products and lets businesses save their time and money. Also, Zego offers a range of cover options from flexible pay-as-you-go insurance to annual policies.

In April 2021, Zego became the first insurtech unicorn in the UK with $150 million (nearly £108 million) Series C funding in a round led by DST Global along with other new investors including General Catalyst. Also, existing investors – Transferwise founder, Taavet Hinrikus, and Zego’s board, Target Global, Balderton Capital and Latitude, amongst others, took part in the round.