UK ‘tops innovation ranking’ despite Brexit concerns

AI public sector London-based AI firm Graphcore was named the second-most disruptive firm in the world

The UK’s startup ecosystem continues to “flourish” ahead of its European counterparts despite uncertainty posed by last year’s Brexit vote, a new report on global disruption has found.

The Disrupt 100 report, released today, ranks the world’s 100 most disruptive ventures. The list is decided by a group of top tech firms, including Oracle, Uber, Google UK, and Virgin Startup, and promises to celebrate ventures “with the most potential to influence, change, or create new global markets”.

Almost a third (32%) of the firms listed are based in the UK, compared to just 12% from the rest of Europe, 26% from Asia, and 16% from North America.

The 32 British ventures featured on the list have seen a combined £85m of investment to date.

The report warns, however, that Britain must remain an attractive location for businesses looking up to set-up shop after the country’s exit from the European Union.

Brexit has prompted widespread anxiety across many of Britain’s startups, with the recent news that British venture capital firms could lose money from the European Investment Fund prompting some startups to predict a “significant slowdown” in startup and tech investment.

The highest-ranked British firm on this year’s list is London-based artificial intelligence (AI) developer Graphcore, which was listed at number two.

The most disruptive venture in the world, the report said, is Israeli firm Storedot, which attracted headlines this year for promising to produce phone batteries which can fully charge within 30 seconds.

Some of the other disruptive UK firms featured on the Disrupt 100 list includes the London-based Signal Media, which aims to use AI to spot and classify online ‘fake news’ articles within seconds; and the Bristol-based Ultrahaptics, which claims to use ultrasound technology to allow users to “touch and manipulate virtual objects”.

The report pointed to healthcare, finance, and business as the sectors rich in disruption, with 40% of the list’s firms working in these industries.

Nearly a quarter of the firms listed uses some form of AI.

Matt Connolly, founder of Disrupt 100 and CEO of Tällt Ventures, said it was “great” to see the “UK leading Europe in innovation”.

“However,” he said, “Britain must remain an attractive option for startups if the UK is to maintain this status.

“Governments, policy makers and industry influencers must not lose sight of the ingredients for successful start and scaleup; and they need to actively encourage the implementation of these.”