Move over unicorns, these fast-growing Scottish firms have been identified as 'futurecorns'

Four Scottish companies have been identified as “futurecorns” – fast-growing businesses set to achieve a $1 billion valuation.

Analysis by and the Digital Economy Council has singled out Amphista Therapeutics of Motherwell, Interactive Investor in Glasgow, and Roslin Technologies and NuCana BioMed, both of which are based in Edinburgh.

The research highlighted Scotland’s track record for creating “unicorn” companies such as FanDuel and Skyscanner, noting that it was helping the country to create a new generation of fast-growing tech businesses.

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Scotland’s futurecorns are part of the huge expansion of the UK tech sector, which has grown ten-fold in the last decade, enabling the creation of hundreds of fast growing tech companies across the country.

Several UK firms are now regarded as futurecorns - companies with a value of between $250m and $1bn - which are on a path to unicorn status. Picture: Jon Savage

Over the course of ten years, the number of unicorns – private tech companies valued at $1bn or more – has increased from eight in 2010 to 81 in 2020. Some of the unicorns from 2010, including Betfair, Admiral Group and Ocado, are now household names.

Meanwhile, the number of futurecorns has accelerated from ten to 126 over the same period. Venture capital investment into the UK has increased from £1.2 billion in 2010 to £11.3bn in 2020.

Experts said the numbers demonstrated the extent to which the UK is catching up with the US and China in technology innovation, with London now fourth behind the Bay Area in the US, Beijing and New York when it comes to the number of start-ups and unicorns created.

During 2021, the total number of unicorns and futurecorns has continued to grow. The UK has now created 91 unicorns.

A further 132 firms are now regarded as futurecorns – companies with a value of between $250m and $1bn – which are on a path to unicorn status.

Those Scottish futurecorns include Amphista Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company creating therapeutics that harness the body’s natural processes to remove disease-causing proteins, and Roslin Technologies, which is developing pioneering innovations to make the agriculture and animal health sectors more sustainable.

Nicola Thompson, chief executive of Amphista Therapeutics, said: “It’s brilliant to be recognised as one of the UK’s leading futurecorns.

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“At Amphista we’re building a world-leading biopharmaceutical company, based on groundbreaking research from the University of Dundee, and situated in BioCity Scotland. We’re dedicated to delivering innovative new medicines in areas of high patient need and this is all possible thanks to our brilliant team and support of our great investors.”

Yoram Wijngaarde, founder and chief executive, said: “UK start-ups raised €1.3 billion in the whole of 2010. They raised the same amount in the first three weeks of 2021.

“Emerging hubs continue to be inspired by the UK ecosystem’s journey from an eccentric cluster of companies around a grim roundabout to the successful global companies we see now.

“With continued policy innovation, research investment, and the right talent, the UK can build on the momentum into the next decade, as the beating heart of a European tech ecosystem turning global heads.”

Stephen Kelly, chairman of Tech Nation, added: “The rate of growth in the UK tech ecosystem in the last ten years has been immense and we are confident that there is more to come.”

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