London combines the advantages of one of the strongest startup ecosystems in the world with the ambitions of a government that is supportive of enabling entrepreneurs to create an ecosystem of innovators transforming public services.
The London GovTech market benefits from the existence of a thriving startup and growth funding ecosystem. In 2017, £8 billion in funding was invested in high growth startups – the highest level in Europe. According to the World Bank, the United Kingdom ranks seventh globally (and second in Europe) in terms of ease of doing business. This focus has led to the formation of 112.3 startups per 10,000 people in London, making the city one of the most prolific startup hubs in the world.
London is also a top destination for talent, supported by its world-class research infrastructure. As of 2018, three of the top 15 computer science programmes in the world are located in the UK.
The UK government has a track record for supporting the development of strategic high-tech industries. Innovative central government initiatives such as the Financial Conduct Authority’s regulatory sandbox set the standard for the global regulation of FinTech entrepreneurship, and helped power London to becoming one of the global leaders in financial services technology.
Similarly, the 2017 GovTech Catalyst Fund constitutes a clear commitment from Government to establish itself as a world leader in the GovTech space. The fund is a £20 million pool of grant funding devoted to supporting Ministries and local governments seeking to procure innovative tech solutions from startups. In addition to supporting GovTech ventures through grant funding, the UK government has also set aside funding to seed them. The British Patient Capital Fund, a branch of the British Business Bank, has made long term GovTech investing a priority.
Appetite for GovTech extends to local government as well. The office of the Mayor of London has established the Civic Innovation Challenge – a funding competition that challenges startups to build a prototype to tackle seven societal issues. Beyond London, similar efforts have been enacted. Birmingham has run the Urban Challenge, inviting startups to tackle societal problems impacting the West Midlands region.
As the epicentre of impact investing, London has deep collection of organisations that support GovTech innovation. In addition to PUBLIC, Europe’s leading GovTech investor, London is home to numerous incubators and accelerator programmes aiming to support innovative startups in the space. These include PwC’s Scale GovTech, Bethnal Green Ventures, as well as multiple dedicated Government accelerator programmes offered by GCHQ, NHS, TfL, and Defra.
Top 10 GovTech Startups
Adzuna is a search engine for job advertisements that aggregates job listings from thousands of sources, and currently powers the Department for Work and Pensions’ Universal Jobmatch board.
Cera is a technology-enabled homecare solution, connecting adults of all ages with vetted and affordable care providers in the comfort of their own homes.
Apolitical is an international knowledge platform for public servants, allowing them to discover and share innovative solutions to common public problems.
Improbable has developed a platform for third parties to build vast virtual and simulated worlds, working with UK Government and Transport Systems Catapult to run large-scale simulations.
Babylon is a mobile health platform that is used to power the NHS’ GP at Hand service, allowing patients to book appointments and talk to their doctor through their smartphone within minutes.
Forward Health is a secure and fully compliant mobile communication and media sharing platform for clinical staff.
Darktrace applies sophisticated machine learning to cyber security to prevent cybercrime before it occurs.
what3words has developed a platform that divides the world into a global grid of 3mx3m squares, giving each square a preallocated, unique and fixed 3 word address.
ASI Data Science has developed UK an anti-terror content tool which automatically analyses and blocks content that is considered to be ISIS propaganda, before it is posted.
Citymapper has developed a smart mapping platform for cities, using real-time data to optimise public transport routes and journey planning.