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The best of 2020: The most popular stories of UK tech this year

Anne Boden, Starling Bank
Image credits: Starling Bank

2020 has been a tough and an uncertain year as we fight the odds of the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic. The serious consequences of the pandemic did impact the global tech industry but many companies have shown a rapid and smart response to it and have made it through the uncertain times in the UK tech ecosystem.

Looking at this year, Dr. Andy Khawaja, an award-winning payment services innovator unveiled the Artificial Intelligence Defense Platform, which he has been working on for almost a year. AIDP creates limitless artificial intelligence technology, which helps sustain the world’s population and improve future conditions.

Not to forget the big headlines created by Hammersmith-based Lanistar, the banking alternative, which was launched in March this year. Within months of its launch, the hassle-free banking alternative set to revolutionise the way customers streamline their money. The company secured £15M funding from Milaya Capital, which will help it grow its operational and customer support teams and scale towards product launch. Later, it was claimed to be a scam and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reportedly issued a warning to its prospective investors. In November, FCA withdrew its warning against the Instagram-hyper Lanister.

Amidst the controversies about Lanister, Revolut co-founder Nikolay Storonsky became UK’s first tech billionaire. His worth accounts to £1.06B and he was named in Telegraph’s Tech Hot 100 ranking of fintech leaders. And, to tackle the current pandemic crisis, UK-based Synoptic and Luna Cinema came up with an innovative new pilot to test 63,840 people for COVID-19 at drive-in cinema sites. The rapid antigen test results will be revealed within 15 minutes. One of the biggest news pieces of November is from Cazoo. Well, the UK-based used car platform crossed £150M revenues this year and delivered over 10,000 cars since 2019.

Talking about the front-page headlines, these were not the only ones. There were many other tech companies that achieved a huge feat during the ongoing uncertain time. So, today UKTN will take you through the biggest headlines of 2020 that deserve your attention. Give it a read!

Transferwise founders
Image credits: Transferwise

TransferWise launched direct debits in select markets

In January, TransferWise announced the launch of its Direct Debit feature. Any customer with a EUR or GBP account can set up direct debit payments in the UK or Europe sans a local bank account. The service is free to set up and doesn’t involve any additional or subscription charges. Also, UK fintech Pleo came up with a slew of new features by collaborating with JP Morgan and MasterCard. This move will let Pleo expand into new European markets faster.

Besides fintechs, global startup generator and early-stage venture capital firm Antler announced that it raised an additional $50M (nearly £37M) into its funds in London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, New York, Oslo, Nairobi, Sydney and Singapore. Antler will provide pre-seed and later-stage capital to successful companies from this fund.

Anne Boden, Starling Bank
Image credits: Starling Bank

Starling Bank secured £60M funding

UK-based digital bank Starling Bank secured £60M in February from its existing investors – JTC and Merian Global Investors. With this, the overall investment secured by the company raiseds to £323M. Starling followed the £60M raise with a further £40M in May, bringing its raised total in 2020 to £100M. It helps the bank to continue its rapid expansion and disrupt the banking industry, thereby providing a stiff challenge to legacy banks. Starling followed the £60M raise with a further £40M in May, bringing its raised total in 2020 to £100M

Picture credits: Cazoo

Cazoo bagged £100M funding

Cazoo, a UK-based leading used car marketplace bagged £100M funding from DMG Ventures along with CNP, General Catalyst, Octopus Ventures, Eight Roads Venture, Mubadala Capital and Stride.VC. Following the same, Cazoo raised another round and attained the unicorn status as well.

Image credits: seatd

COVID secured businesses got funded

Manchester-based hospitality experts joined hands to launch an innovative web-app called seatd. It has been developed as a direct response to the social distancing guidelines issued by the government when venues resume operations. The app lets customers buy food and drink sans any upfront setup costs. This way, it will help venues reopen in an efficient and responsible way.

Besides this, as the new normal has paved the way to online education, MyTutor, an online tuition platform announced that it raised £4M led by Mobeus Equity Partners. The company will use the investment to develop further and increase the availability of the platform. MyTutor aims to ensure that children get the most from their education during the pandemic crisis.

Image credits: Moneybox

Moneybox Series C funding

Moneybox, a savings and investing app pocketed £30M Series C funding from Eight Roads, CNP and Breega. The fintech startup is on a mission to help everyone save and invest for their future. Basically, Moneybox lets users deposit over £100M on to the platform on a monthly basis. With the funding, the fintech will be able to invest in new technology, execute its mission of people customers invest, and scale the team.

Mina team
Image credits: Mina

Green energy, micromobility are on the rise

Post the initial lockdown, it looks like green energy and micromobility are catching up with the trend. Well, the London-based bike subscription platform Buzzbike raised £1.7M funding as Londoners seek alternatives to public transportation to curb the spread of the infection. Also, electric vehicle startup Mina secured significant seed investment, which takes its valuation to £2M. The company’s EV charging software makes managing electric vehicle fleets simple.

London city
Image credits: r.classen/Shutterstock

London became Edtech hub

London became a leading Edtech hub in Europe, claims a research by London & Partners along with Dealroom. The report revealed that London is a top destination for Edtech investments in Europe and the eighth one on a global scale.

Image credits: fizkes/Shutterstock

Businesses became online in the UK

COVID-19 has brought in many changes and a major one that sparked a retail transformation in the UK is the spike in the number of online businesses. It has been reported by Growth Intelligence that over 85,000 businesses took the online path in the UK during the pandemic crisis by launching online stores or joining online marketplaces.

London city
Image credits: IR Stone/Shutterstock

London led impact tech investments

2020 marked massive headlines in the UK’s tech ecosystem as numerous investors were eyeing to pump money into purpose-driven tech companies. Especially, London became a leading hub for the investments in impact tech startups.

Image credits: Hopin

Many unicorns in the UK

Besides these startups, Gousto, a recipe subscription service attained the unicorn status following Cazoo, Gymshark, and Snyk. Hopin, a live online events platform attained the double unicorn status. Also, MPowder, an e-commerce brand that provides nutritional powders tackling hormonal changes raised £500K seed funding. And, Farfetch, a London-based fashion retail platform raised £1B backing from Richemont and Alibaba.

Monzo team
Image credits: Monzo

Monzo secured £60M funding

UK challenger bank Monzo has quietly secured £60M in funding from new investors including Deliveroo and Stripe investor Novator, Kaiser, and TED Global, as well as existing investor Goodwater. This brings the total funding raised to £125M since the coronavirus crisis broke out.