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UK scaleups are shining light in a slowing UK economy as Venture Capital investment levels continue to surge in 2019

UK scaleups are shining light in a slowing UK economy

Venture Capital (VC) investments up 19% on previous quarter to more than £2.4bn


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Tim Kay
  • Venture Capital (VC) investments up 19% on previous quarter to more than £2.4bn
  • More than £7.4bn invested in UK scaleups so far this year
  • Europe sees record quarter for VC investment during Q319

UK scaleups are on course to exceed the record levels of VC investment seen last year, according to new figures released today.

KPMG Enterprise’s Global Venture Pulse survey has revealed that VC investment in UK scaleup businesses has surged during Q319, led by the £368 million funding round by Babylon Health and £195 million for Cambridge based CMR Surgical.  The snapshot figures compiled by Pitchbook revealed a total of £2.4bn was invested in innovative, fast growth businesses in the UK during July – September 2019 up 19% on the previous quarter (£2.0bn) and £537 million more than the £1.9bn raised during the same quarter last year.

The figures show that more than £7.4bn has been invested by VCs in UK scaleups during the first 9 months of the year, which almost equals the £7.6bn raised for the whole of 2018.

The number of VC investments being made continued to fall however.  There were just 245 deals completed in Q319 versus 421 in the previous quarter.  This was a substantial drop (42%) on the 420 deals completed in the same quarter last year (July-September 2018).

Commenting on the figures, Tim Kay, Director with KPMG Enterprise who works with fast growth businesses said :

“VC investment in fast growth UK businesses remains as robust as ever with the domestic economic and political outlook having very little impact on their appetite for our disruptive enterprises. 

“There’s no sign that sectors such as fintech, biotech and healthcare are slowing down. The UK’s global reputation as home to the kind of disruptive businesses that are world leading in these spaces continues to attract the capital they need so that they can expand globally. There’s still capital in the market and VC investors appear to have few qualms about investing in UK stalwart industries.

“While there continues to be a significant amount of liquidity in the global VC market, investors are putting greater emphasis on governance, business models and expectations related to profitability.  We are seeing the number of deals being closed continue to fall as VC investors appear to be changing their investment thesis with regards to the cheques they are writing. This is a trend we would expect to continue over the next quarter and into 2020, particularly when we look at the number of larger late stage deals.”

Cybersecurity becoming a big ticket for VC investors

On a global basis, the scope and breadth of cybersecurity has VC investors flocking to the space according to the Pitchbook analysis.

In 2018, $6.4 billion in VC investment went to cybersecurity companies –a record of investment that could be exceeded by the end of 2019. In Q319 alone, security and risk management platform OneTrust raised $200 million in the UK, in addition to other deals. While Israel has long been a leader in VC investment in cybersecurity, other countries are also rising on the radar of cybersecurity-focused VC investors. 

Given the growing need for companies to become more efficient and to manage a more complex array of regulatory and compliance requirements, it is expected that this is an area that could see further investment in the future.

Bumper quarter for scaleups across Europe as new unicorns are born

Europe has already exceeded 2018’s record level of VC investment –with one quarter remaining in the year. The region had a record quarter for VC investment during Q319. The diversity of innovation hubs across the region continued to play a key role in the strength of Europe’s VC market – with Germany, the UK, Sweden, Israel and Belgium all attracting significant funding rounds during the quarter. The diversity of companies attracting funding was also substantial, with VC investors in Europe embracing opportunities across financial services, healthcare, transportation, mobility, pharma and biotech, B2B services, and others. 

The availability of funding continued to be strong across Europe during Q319, not only from traditional VC firms, but also from family offices. This likely contributed to the lack of interest in IPOs, and the rise of unicorn companies in Europe as new technology companies matured and yet remained private. During Q319, the region saw nine new unicorns birthed, including FlixMobility(FlixBus) and Deposit Solutions in Germany, Acronis and Numbrs in Switzerland, Babylon Health and Cambridge based CMR Surgical in the UK and Lighttricks in Israel.

Sectors to watch

Fintech, transportation, mobility, healthtech, and biotech are all expected to be hot areas of VC investment on a global level, with AI continuing to be a critical focus at a technology level. B2B solutions, productivity solutions, and solutions with real world impacts are also expected to grow on the radar of investors. 

Transportation and mobility companies were among the hottest areas of investment during Q319. In China, these sectors bucked the slowdown trend, accounting for three of the deals in China, including DidiChuxing’s $600 million investment by Toyota, CHI Automotive’s $530 million funding round, and a $400 million raise by Hellobike. Looking at Asia more broadly, Ola Electric Mobility in India also raised $250 million during the quarter. 

In Europe, transportation mobility app FlixMobility in Germany raised the largest funding round of Q319, while in the US transportation logistics company Samsara and Nikola Motor Company raised $300 million and $250 million respectively. With e-commerce levels only growing, VC investment in transportation and logistics is expected to grow, particularly as it relates to commercial solutions. This is particularly true in developing nations where transportation and logistics operations are less mature.

Charlie Simpson, Partner and Head of Mobility 2030 at KPMG UK, commented:

“The level of investment being seen in the mobility space is only going to increase, and rapidly.

“Historically disparate value chains are becoming more connected as businesses gather the key ingredients around themselves in order to compete in this area. As a result, the scale of the investment opportunity has increased significantly and our own analysis suggests that there is a $9 trillion potential global market for mobility and related services.

“The rise of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and Mobility-as-a-Service is transforming the mobility landscape, and as it gathers momentum, it’s clear that many investors are paying attention and not willing to be left behind.”

You can download the full global report:




For further information, please contact:

Emma Murray

KPMG Press Office

T: +44 (0)20 7694 6506



About KPMG in the UK

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 16,300 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.338 billion in the year ended 30 September 2018. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 154 countries and has 200,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.


KPMG uses PitchBook as the provider of venture data for the Venture Pulse report.

Figures supplied are a snapshot of deals data available as of 4th October 2019. The Venture Pulse does not contain any transactions that are tracked as private equity growth by PitchBook. As such rounds are often conflated with late-stage venture capital in media coverage, there can be confusion regarding specific rounds of financing. The key difference is that PitchBook defines a PE growth round as a financial investment occurring when a PE investor acquires a minority stake in a privately held corporation. Thus, if the investor is classified as PE by PitchBook, and it is the sole participant in the recipient company’s financing, then such a round will usually be classified as PE growth, and not included in the Venture Pulse datasets.

Also, if a company is tagged with any PitchBook vertical, excepting manufacturing and infrastructure, it is kept. Otherwise, the following industries are excluded from growth equity financing calculations: buildings and property, thrifts and mortgage finance, real estate investment trusts, and oil & gas equipment, utilities, exploration, production and refining. Lastly, the company in question must not have had an M&A event, buyout, or IPO completed prior to the round in question.

© 2021 KPMG LLP a UK limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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