Almost half of Europe’s billion-dollar ‘unicorn’ tech companies were founded in the UK, according to research conducted for London Technology Week by investment bank GP Bulhound.

A total of 17 of the 40 European tech companies that have achieved IPO or been valued at $1bn or more started in the UK, with fintech’s eight unicorns representing the largest sector.

London takes the lion’s share of these success stories, producing: ASOS, JustEat, Skrill, Wonga, Zoopla, Farfetch, Transferwise, Shazam, Funding Circle, Markit Group, Ve Interactive, Powa and Rightmove.

But there are four based outside of London, AO.com, FanDuel, PokerStars and SkyScanner.

The number of unicorns across the European region has grown 33% from the same time last year, up from 30 to 40 companies, making 2014 the most successful year since 2000.

In the UK alone, eight new companies have been added to the list since just a year ago, with the average valuation across all of these European firms now reaching $3bn.

“The UK has raced ahead as the undisputed home of unicorns in Europe,” said Manish Madhvani, managing partner at GP Bullhound and co-author of ‘European Unicorns – Do They Have Legs?’.

“Our report shows that Europe has a network of entrepreneurs and investors that can create and grow globally successful digital businesses.”

Sweden and Russia come in joint second, with five unicorns apiece, followed by Germany with four and France on three.

Perhaps not quite the fast investment or quick exit that some founders and investors might hope for, European unicorns require an average of $140m over nine years to pass the $1bn mark.

And far from being a young person’s game, the average age of entrepreneurs when they founded these companies was 35.

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