octopus energy

Investment in sustainable UK tech firms surges in 2021

Image credit: pa

UK start-ups that are tackling some of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals have now reached £2bn in annual investment, up from £1.7bn last year, new figures have shown.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), impact tech firms have seen a 127 per cent increase in investment in the UK since 2018 and together, they are now worth £50bn and employ over 35,000 people.

The UK now has 12 “impact unicorns” which are companies in the space that are worth over £1bn. Of these, six of them are based outside of London, including Vertical Aerospace which is based in Bristol and is building zero-carbon, commercial flying taxis, ITM Power in Sheffield which designs and manufactures hydrogen energy systems and Ceres Power Holdings in Horsham which is creating low-cost next-generation fuel cell technology to enable companies to deliver clean energy at scale.

Other companies include energy firms Ovo and Octopus (pictured) which are focused on supplying customers with clean energy.

Impact investing has also been growing globally to keep track with investors keen to back companies that will generate positive social and environmental impacts alongside financial returns.

In the UK, there are now nearly 900 impact startups and scale-ups using technologies such as artificial intelligence, deep tech, big data, and blockchain to develop next-generation solutions to take on global problems such as climate change, health and food insecurity.

The promising figures have been published as Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries hosts the Future Tech Forum this week in London to discuss future public policy issues relating to the development and use of digital technologies.

“From world-class AI discovering new treatments for Covid-19 to green energy solutions paving the way to a net-zero future, UK tech is transforming the world for the better,” Dorries said. “Our “impact” startups are raising investment with nearly £2bn in funding this year to help fight some of the most pressing problems we face as a planet.”

Luisa Alemany, a professor at London Business School, said investors now realised these investments could deliver not only a social benefit but also a financial return.

She commented: “Impact investing has come a long way since its start in the late 90s when it was considered more of a philanthropic endeavour.”

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