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Boasting Highest Number of Unicorns in Europe, the U.K. Celebrates Startups with Limited-Time Statue in New York City

The U.K. built world’s third $1 trillion-tech economy, following US and China

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland Campaign (GREAT), the United Kingdom government’s flagship international communications program, today announced the unveiling of The Ever-Changing Statue in New York City, a distinctive, 3D-hologram installation designed to highlight the U.K.’s strengths as the third largest destination for tech investment in the world, and the breeding ground to over 160 impressive unicorn companies, some valued as high as $18 billion. The statue, which features some of the country’s leading unicorn and futurecorn founders and CEOs, is now on display at Rise, created by Barclays in New York, through April 4, 2024.

GREAT’s Ever-Changing Statue, created by British company HYPERVSN, serves as a monument to the Unicorn Kingdom, GREAT’s campaign to highlight the U.K.’s world-leading tech ecosystem. While statues have historically been used to honor past achievements, GREAT commissioned the statue to represent the U.K.’s dynamic and innovative spirit, celebrating the companies that are driving the future of business and technology forward on a global level. Startups at the forefront of significant disruption and growth, such as Quantexa, Blockchain, Octopus Energy Group and Proximie, will be featured on the statue in a revolving manner, and visitors can learn more about the companies and their founders while viewing the installation. See a full list of all founders featured on the statue here.

The U.K. is a hotbed of innovation and only the third country in the world to have its tech sector valued at $1+ trillion, alongside the United States and China. The country has generated more unicorn companies than France and Germany combined, with particular strengths in artificial intelligence, fintech, health and biotech. In 2023, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled a bold plan to cement the U.K.’s place as a global science and technology superpower by 2030, investing over £370 million in government funding to boost infrastructure, investment and skills for key growth technologies, including quantum, supercomputing and AI.

“The U.K.’s startup community has long punched above its weight, and this is no coincidence. The U.K. government has incubated a system that makes it easy to access capital, has done away with unnecessary red tape and funds innovation—spending £14 billion on R&D in 2021 alone,” said Prime Minister Sunak. “It’s only right that we celebrate the success of our startup community, and this statue does just that, showcasing innovative founders who have helped us grow the U.K. economy.”

U.K. startups have long been an attractive opportunity for investors, owing in large part to the country’s impressive pool of talent, world-renowned universities with top research and development capabilities, proximity to Europe’s financial capital in London and a progressive, agile regulatory environment. London alone attracted over $20 billion in VC investment in 2022. The U.K. is also home to 12 decacorns and remains in the top three in the world for unicorns across every key tech sector, despite being geographically 40x smaller than the US and China.

Saul Klein, co-founder and managing partner at Phoenix Court, home to LocalGlobe, Latitude, Basecamp and Solar, said: “Over the past 20 years, the U.K. has become one of the leading tech ecosystems in the world, producing stellar companies such as DeepMind, Wise and Monzo. It’s been incredible to witness this shift and to see the impact that U.K.-born tech has had in Europe, the US and beyond. To continue this success, we need specialist knowledge and scalable capital to support the next generation of impactful founders.”

The term unicorn was first coined 10 years ago by Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee, when 39 companies were identified as unicorns, or companies valued at $1 billion or more. Though the number of unicorns worldwide has increased to over 1,000, unicorns still represent less than 1% of all venture-backed startups.

“We attribute much of our company’s success to the collaborative spirit and access to capital we have enjoyed in the U.K.,” said Oliver Kent-Braham, co-founder and co-CEO of disruptive insurance carrier Marshmallow. “We successfully built our company on supporting expats who come to the U.K. and need a fair deal on car insurance. There’s a correlation to be made with US investment opportunities—there is a fantastic option to support incredible innovation from startups that may not be US-based but who have the potential to make a significant impact on markets around the world.”

Fintech continues to be a strong sector for U.K. startups, ranking second in the world for the number of unicorns in the industry, including Wise, Revolut and Starling Bank. The country’s leading fintech unicorns have gone on to spawn nearly 100 additional startups from current or former employees, creating a virtual circle of innovation and tech leadership.

Anne Boden MBE, founder and non-executive director at Starling Bank, said: “Achieving unicorn status not only underscores our relentless commitment to innovation but also highlights the tremendous potential of technology in the U.K. Starling Bank is proud to lead the charge in revolutionizing the financial landscape and to be featured in the Unicorn Kingdom campaign. We envision a future where cutting-edge solutions empower individuals and businesses alike, driving economic growth and prosperity for our nation.”

The Ever-Changing Statue is on display at Rise, created by Barclays, located at 43 W 23rd St, from March 27 through April 4, 2024. Visitors can access the statue on the second floor of the building, between the hours of 9:30 am and 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, after signing into reception on the ground floor.


The GREAT Britain & Northern Ireland Campaign is a program designed to enhance the U.K.’s reputation and drive economic growth through the intensely competitive markets of international trade, investment, tourism, education and talent. Established in 2011, the campaign now operates in 160+ countries across the globe, uniting the U.K. Government, private sector and many high-profile individuals in promoting the very best of the U.K. For more information, visit https://greatcampaign.com/.

About Barclays

Rise, created by Barclays is a global fintech ecosystem made up of cutting-edge start-ups and scale-ups, working together to create the future of financial services.

At Rise, we have created an environment for open innovation and growth through our physical locations in New York and London, and our virtual community in India. Our ecosystem has access to Barclays’ network of industry experts, mentors, investors and partners to help founders scale at pace. rise.barclays


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