20th anniversary Tech Track 100: Covid-19 edition

6th September 2020

Our 20th anniversary Sunday Times Sage Tech Track 100 league table, published today and here on our website, identifies the UK’s fastest-growing private technology companies by sales, and before Covid-19 struck.

It highlights their response to the pandemic, giving examples of how their innovation has supported their communities and the NHS, and also celebrates the success of league table stars over the past 20 years. For detailed findings, download our research report.

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Published today, the 20th anniversary Sunday Times Sage Tech Track 100 league table ranks Britain’s private technology, media and telecoms (TMT) companies with the fastest-growing sales – before Covid-19 struck. Over their last three financial years, sales rose between 48% p.a. and 310% p.a. from a combined £491m to £2.8bn, an average growth rate of 94% p.a.

This Covid-19 edition highlights the important contribution that technology companies have made to the UK during the pandemic, from supporting the NHS to enabling remote working. Although some have made redundancies, at least half have increased their workforce since March 2020, while 15 have completed fundraising.

The 100 companies include seven “unicorns” valued at $1bn or more, and 11 fintechs, down from 24 last year. B2B software comprises the largest industry on the league table with 24 companies. Entrepreneurs and/or founders own majority-stakes in 48 companies, while 46 are majority-owned by private equity and venture capital firms.

Top of the league

Pictured: Revolut co-founders Vlad Yatsenko (left) and Nik Storonsky

London fintech firm Revolut tops the league table for a second consecutive year, the first company in the 20-year history of Tech Track 100 to do so. Britain’s fastest-growing private tech company launched five years ago as a pre-paid debit card helping travellers switch cheaply between currencies. Now 13m people use it to streamline their financial affairs – from stock trading to travel insurance.

Revolut held on to its $5.5bn valuation in a funding extension in July. It is now Europe’s most valuable financial technology firm, alongside fellow Tech Track 100 star Checkout.com (No 55) and Swedish credit company Klarna. Revolut racked up losses of £107.4m last year but says it will break even this year. Sales growth has been astronomical – averaging 310% p.a. over three years to hit £162.7m in 2019.

Focus: Combating Covid-19

Pictured: Oxford Nanopore founder and chief executive Gordon Sanghera

Six Tech Track 100 companies are directly involved in developing a vaccine or related medical technology, while others have provided technology free of charge to the NHS, supported SMEs and helped government make key decisions with advanced data analytics.

Examples include:

  • Spectrum Medical (No 63) whose blood perfusion systems have been used to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients in America and Germany
  • Oxford Nanopore (No 20) developed a low-cost, scalable test for the virus that returns results in one hour and was rolled out in August, with millions of tests to be made available over the winter
  • Babylon Health (No 13) launched a Covid-19 Care Assistant in March to provide advice, check symptoms, and information on self-isolating

10 Tech Track Ones to Watch

Our 10 Tech Track Ones to Watch features promising companies that did not meet the criteria of the league table, but have either achieved or are forecasting strong sales growth, have innovative technologies, and have raised significant venture capital investment.

This year’s companies include care services platform Cera, which uses AI to help detect health issues in the elderly, reducing hospital admissions; and Privitar, which develops software that anonymises sensitive customer data for clients including BT.

Past Tech Track Ones to Watch companies include Deliveroo, Revolut, SwiftKey and Zoopla.

BGF 10 Green Tech to Watch

Our inaugural BGF 10 Green Tech to Watch is sponsored by BGF, the UK’s most active investor in growing businesses. It features companies that are developing technology to help mitigate or reverse the effects of human activity on the environment.

This year’s companies include lithium-sulphur battery manufacturer OXIS Energy, which says its products pack in five times more energy than lithium-ion batteries; and Carbon Clean, which says its carbon capture technology removes more than 90% of carbon dioxide from industrial emissions.

20th anniversary of Tech Track 100

Pictured: Tim Steiner, co-founder and chief executive of Ocado, which is valued at £19bn

This is the 20th anniversary of Tech Track 100 and it has featured many of Britain’s most successful private tech companies. The inaugural league table was launched in 2001 with headline sponsorship from ARM Holdings – the chip designer had featured on our Fast Track 100 four years earlier with sales of just £17m and became the UK’s most valuable tech company when it was sold to Japan’s Softbank for £24.4bn in 2016.

Since its launch, a total of 1,200 companies have featured on Tech Track 100 and our 10 Tech Track Ones to Watch, with 390 merging or being acquired, 50 floating on stock markets, and 100 going bust.

Past stars include Ocado, which first featured in 2006 with sales of £143m, listed in 2010 at £940m and is now worth £19bn; Abcam – founded by Jonathan Milner – debuted with sales of just £1.8m in 2003, floated on AIM in 2005 for £15m and is now worth £2.9bn; and THG, which first featured in 2007 with sales of £5.7m, hit £111m profits on £1.1bn sales in 2019, and is planning a £4.5bn IPO this month.

Key changes over the past two decades include funding – 77 firms on the 2020 league table are backed by VCs/ business angels, almost double the 41 in 2001; and sectors – there are 38 firms in online/app-based consumer services this year, compared to two online recruiters in 2001, and 12 medtech companies, compared to six in 2001.

Detailed research findings 

Detailed research findings are covered in our 35-page research report — please click to download.

National awards event

We look forward to welcoming the founders and directors of Tech Track 100 companies to this year’s invitation-only virtual networking awards event in November, with fantastic Tech Track 100 alumni guest speakers from Britain’s leading technology firms:

  • Poppy Gustafsson, co-founder and chief executive of Darktrace, which was a Tech Track Ones to Watch in 2016 and has featured on the league table for the last four consecutive years. It develops AI software to detect and counter cyber-security threats and was valued at $1.65bn in 2018.
  • Alex Chesterman, a serial entrepreneur who founded two “unicorn” platforms in Cazoo and Zoopla – No 6 on Tech Track 100 in 2013, and also co-founded LoveFilm – which featured on the league table four times.

See last year’s event video.

Our sponsors

Recognising the achievements of all these companies is made possible by our sponsors: SageBarclaysBDOBGF and N+1 Singer.

To build relationships with the founders and directors of the UK’s most successful private companies, from the fastest-growing to the biggest, see available sponsorship opportunities.

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