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Emerging Growth Insights and the Fast 50

Are the UK’s tech companies globally competitive?

In a turbulent economic landscape, UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are grappling with a host of challenges. They’re juggling higher interest rates, escalating costs, and labour shortages. Even the UK government’s own goals for SME procurement spending have fallen short, making the outlook increasingly precarious for small to medium-sized companies.

2023 Technology Fast 50 ranking and winner's profiles
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The UK’s technology sector stands as a beacon of resilience and innovation. Against the backdrop of considerable challenges, UK tech companies are not just surviving; they are thriving.


Kiren Asad

Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 Programme Lead


The complexities of Brexit have necessitated continuous adaptation in trade and staffing, with new EU regulations creating fresh barriers. The ongoing War in Ukraine is driving global uncertainty and volatile energy prices. The macroeconomic environment and domestic challenges raised questions about how the UK’s business community can stay competitive.

Yet, despite this storm of adversity, the UK’s technology sector stands as a beacon of resilience and innovation. Against the backdrop of considerable challenges, UK tech companies are not just surviving; they are thriving. The sector continues to show an extraordinary ability to adapt, innovate, and scale, providing a glimmer of hope and a roadmap for global competitiveness amid uncertainty.

About the Fast 50

The Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 awards programme recognises an annual cohort of the most innovative and high-growth technology companies in the UK. Last year, the programme was divided into four categories: the Technology Fast 50, Women in Leadership, Regional Winners, and the Rising Star Award. This year we’re proud to announce a new fifth category, CleanTech, which recognises high-growth companies creating innovative environmentally-focused tech products and services.

Companies are ranked based on revenue growth over a three-year period. To qualify, companies must fall under the broad umbrella of being “technology-enabled”, which can range from owning proprietary intellectual property to manufacturing a technology-related product, being technology intensive, or heavily engaged in research and development.

In the following analysis, we delve into the data behind this year’s Fast 50, exploring the geographical spread of these companies, their industry focus, and sources of funding. We also examine key metrics, such as employee numbers and turnover, while identifying the strategic areas of focus that are crucial to their rapid growth. This overview aims to offer insights into the current state and future trajectory of the fastest-growing companies in the UK’s tech ecosystem.

This year’s Fast 50 list is heavily concentrated in London, hosting 38 of the 50 companies and mirroring the distribution in 2021. In comparison, last year featured 31 companies with their headquarters in the Capital. London is, of course, a major hub for high-growth technology companies in the UK, reflecting the depth of talent available and access to finance. Scotland follows with four companies, while the South West and Wales region has three. The South East and the Midlands each have two companies, and Yorkshire and the North East has one.

The companies operate in a diverse range of tech subsectors, with the top three being SaaS Cloud, EdTech, and FinTech. Other notable subsectors are Artificial Intelligence (AI) with three companies. There is also a presence of companies working on environmental technology, with companies spread across GreenTech, EnergyTech, and CleanTech. While more “traditional” sectors such as software are dominant, the appearance of high numbers of AI and environmental tech companies speaks to shifts in the UK’s technology landscape.

These firms have collectively secured more than £3.1b from equity fundraising efforts, with 49 of the 50 companies securing equity investment. The median total amount raised through fundraising is £2.02m. The Fast 50 have also won £95.3m in innovation grant funding, with a median grant size of £105k. Beyond sources of funding, 30 companies have also tapped accelerator programmes to support their growth, benefitting from access to mentors, facilities, and networks.

Thirteen of this year’s companies were among last year’s Fast 50. It is an impressive feat for a company to appear on multiple Fast 50 lists, as increasingly higher turnover rates make it harder to achieve the high growth rates needed to rank on the list year after year. HealthTech Cera has ranked within the top 10 companies for the last three years running. It is also worth noting that Yoto and Allica Bank’s CEOs have previously held leadership roles at other companies that have appeared on the Fast 50.

The companies in this year’s Fast 50 collectively employ an impressive 14,956 people. A significant proportion of the total employee headcount is accounted for by HealthTech company Cera, ranked seventh, which employs more than 7,000 people. The majority of Fast 50 companies this year are much smaller in terms of headcount, with a median of 73 employees.

In terms of turnover, the total for all companies is an impressive £802m. The median turnover per company stands at £7.06m. These figures indicate a healthy financial performance across the companies - reflecting the eligibility criteria for the Fast 50 - but also indicating the wide range in size and revenue across the list.

The companies on the list report a diverse array of focus areas; however, several primary areas of focus emerge for these companies: marketing and customer acquisition, capital raising, and strategic M&A. Many companies are also focusing on improving their data analytics capabilities, potentially a move triggered by the value that AI is unlocking from rich data. As one would expect for a list of high-growth companies, customer acquisition and fundraising are top priorities, likely reflecting the attitude required for rapid growth and, in many cases, its capital-intensive nature.

Gender diversity within founding teams plays a pivotal role in the UK’s high-growth economy. A balanced gender mix offers diverse viewpoints and innovative ideas, and has been widely proven to translate into more fruitful financial results. Despite this, the Fast 50 companies and the UK’s broader high-growth sector display room for improvement regarding gender parity among their founding teams. The data suggests that a notable proportion of the Fast 50 have predominantly male founding teams, a trend echoed in the UK’s scaleups (businesses achieving an average 20% annual growth over three years) as per Beauhurst data. The Fast 50 Women in Leadership category aims to highlight companies led by a woman CEO or with a founding team that’s at least 50% women, encouraging greater gender diversity of future cohorts of Fast 50 companies.

The Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 of 2023 paints a vibrant picture of the UK’s high-growth tech ecosystem, with a strong geographical focus on London. While software remains a dominant sector, emergent fields like AI and environmental technologies are making their mark. Collectively, these companies have secured over £3.1b in equity funding, underscoring the essential role of capital in driving growth. Employee numbers across the Fast 50 are significant—and growing. While revenue figures indicate robust financial health, there’s room for improvement in gender diversity among founding teams. Data from the companies indicates that customer acquisition and fundraising remain key strategic priorities.

Emerging growth companies in context


Ecosystem insights

Scaling your growing business at speed is a subtle science. In recent times, companies have been focused on driving unit economics to reach profitability. While this is a trend that shouldn’t go out of fashion, investors are always going to track top-line growth as a lead metric to signal future success.

Sadly, there’s no secret formula or one-size-fits-all approach that guarantees a startup becomes a superscaler.

However, three helpful best practices can help maintain that critical balance between stability and scaling at speed.

1. Choose a strategic partner, not a service provider

Sustainably scaling at speed calls for more than just deep pockets. Partnership is key. True financial partners go beyond banking to offer strategic guidance as you navigate your growth journey.

To do that, they need to demonstrate deep expertise in financial solutions for high-growth companies, crafting the right solutions for you at the right time. To provide the best advice, your financial partners should have a deep understanding of your industry and the competitive landscape you operate in, helping you navigate shifting market dynamics.

Most important is the human aspect. A financial partner will be by your side for years while you overcome the challenges of scaling your business. The best relationships go beyond transactions, products, and services. They should be based on trust, openness, and a shared vision for your company. After all, your banker will be alongside you as you grow, so they need to match your energy and ambition, giving you the right products and solutions at the right time.

So, how do you know what to look out for? Ask yourself:

  • What is the bank really offering apart from products?
  • Do they have an established track record and reputation in my space?
  • What do their existing clients say about their experience?
  • How do they behave when things aren’t going to plan?

It’s a decision that can stifle or supercharge your success, so choose wisely.

2. Seek out that entrepreneurial spirit

Your banker needs to be able to do more than just hold the purse strings. If they’re going to accelerate your growth, they need to share your entrepreneurial mindset and leverage their experience with high-growth businesses to help you understand whether it’s time to make bold decisions or double down on efficiency.

This is particularly true in the fast-moving, competitive world of technology.

Learning whether to double down on local markets or invest heavily in new opportunities comes with time and experience. If they understand your ambition, constraints, and all the markets you’re operating in, a high-quality financial partner can help you make the right decisions at the right time.

Balancing caution with a cut-throat business instinct is often the difference between success and super scaling.

3. Look for diverse experience

While every business faces unique challenges, there are undoubtedly hurdles that come up frequently when you are growing at speed, particularly internationally.

Avoiding these common pitfalls is another key factor in how quickly and successfully you can scale your business.

The key is to find a partner with a nuanced network. Meeting your growth goals means you’ll need to navigate everything from employment legislation to government policy while breaking into the right business circles.

Again, you should be able to turn to your bank for guidance. Whether it’s lawyers to protect your IP, investors to fund your next equity round, or international networking events that allow you to get your foot in the door, a great partner will open those doors and avoid stumbling blocks well in advance.

At HSBC Innovation Banking, we have a proud history of partnering with high-growth tech and life sciences businesses, creating meaningful connections, and opening a world of global opportunity for entrepreneurs and their investors.

Our dedicated Relationship Managers come with deep sector expertise and extensive investor networks and are experienced in providing financial solutions from seed-stage to IPO and beyond. Whether it’s comprehensive banking, debt capital, plans for buyouts, or Global Funds Banking, we empower the bold to leave their limits behind and share their vision with the world.

Businesses are being pressed to increase profitability, find ways to stay agile, and be more productive. A delicate balancing act, yet one that can be achieved through effective planning and a laser focus on financial data, including top and bottom-line growth. How can emerging companies build resilience and continue to find growth opportunities?

Stay flexible to the macro environment

Emerging companies should prioritise agility as they deal with the effects of the economy. Economic and pricing changes brought on by fluctuations in the market are now the norm, and businesses must act quickly to protect narrowing margins.

Long and short-term business plans should incorporate some element of flexibility, working with finance, inventory, and supply chain data to stress test “what-if” scenarios. For example, businesses can test scenarios such as the impact of raw material prices doubling or supply chain disruptions causing 25% of revenue delays. Then, ask questions such as how cash flow will be affected, what evasive manoeuvres can be taken, and how can risk be lowered with preventative measures.

This all relies on the visibility of real-time, reliable data that provides a single view of the business. When companies lack a clear view of their financial health, it becomes impossible to adapt and plan for possible scenarios. Businesses must keep long-term strategies flexible to maintain business continuity.

"Emerging companies should prioritise agility as they deal with the effects of the economy. Economic and pricing changes brought on by fluctuations in the market are now the norm, and businesses must act quickly to protect narrowing margins."

Make the most of cloud technology and automation

Achieving this level of data visibility is only possible in the cloud—essential for running critical aspects of a business, including accurate financial reporting, remote management, and enhancing routine operations. Cloud users can automate key processes and avoid manual work, with the full potential of automation left largely untapped with siloed data. With a laser focus on cost-cutting, automation is a great way for your business to do more with less while making employees’ roles more fulfilling.

For instance, in finance, automating manual, time-consuming tasks such as month-end close makes data more accurate, allowing finance teams to focus on analysis and respond to market changes. This has the potential to mitigate error, with just one incorrect cell having the potential to cost businesses thousands of pounds, but it also frees up teams for value-added work.

Auto-pricing is another way that businesses can remain flexible and react to shifting market pressures. Further removing the burden from overstretched finance teams and ensuring that international sales rules are met, auto-pricing allows businesses to automatically respond to fluctuating supplier prices and maintain accurate cash flow forecasts. It effectively puts the brakes on if a product or component is getting more expensive or gives the green light to buy at the right price. A key advantage is that these changes happen in real time, not weeks down the line, saving vital funds in increasingly volatile markets.

Acquiring new skills and expertise

Technology is only one part of the solution. A key factor for leaders is their ability to remain agile and reactive in the face of new challenges. This can help them develop new skills as their organisations grow. Business owners and management teams should make time for training and learning from peers, experts, and mentors to further grow and enhance their business.

Faced with a volatile trading environment, businesses should refocus their priorities to improve the bottom line. In order to find growth, it is vital to adopt flexible strategies, utilise cloud and automation to enhance workforce productivity and develop varied skills.

Companies can grow fast when they are given the right finance, the right advice, and the right skills at the right time. As a high-volume investor that has backed well over 500 companies in the past 12 years, BGF has seen firsthand how this mix of support can accelerate the growth journey of a business.

Finance, in the form of equity funding, is what BGF provides. We have seen time and again the transformative power of an investment between £1m and £20m. It can allow businesses to achieve in a year what would have taken them five or even 10 years to do organically.

Whether it is used for product development, acquisitions, international expansion, or other purposes, finance is a crucial tool for helping businesses achieve their potential.

Advice is also hugely important. To succeed in the long term, a business must deploy its capital wisely. One of the best ways to make good decisions is to seek guidance from those who have done it before. This could include entrepreneurs and investors who have experience scaling businesses in your sector.

Finding the right sources of guidance can be a challenge, but the good news is that the UK has a large and supportive ecosystem for small-to-mid-sized enterprise funding. BGF maintains one of the largest pools of expert business leaders in the country. More than 400 individuals have now been placed on portfolio company boards thanks to introductions from our Talent Network. Time and again, the advice they give has proved invaluable to the management teams who run these businesses.

"As we draw conclusions from this year’s survey, one thing is evident: the UK’s tech industry is a landscape of contrasts. Challenges are met with innovative solutions; expansion plans are balanced with workforce needs and the macroeconomic environment, there is also a collective push for government support."

Imagine having an experienced mentor on call to answer the urgent questions that might keep you up at night. This is what an experienced non-executive chair can provide to your company.

The third piece of the puzzle is skills. It is rare for a growing business to have all the resources it needs. Usually, there comes a time in the growth journey when the business must seek external expertise. However, expertise can be expensive, and growing businesses need to preserve as much cash as they can.

One way to solve this problem is to buy expertise on a flexible basis. For example, by hiring a finance director part-time or on a contract. But recruitment of senior executives takes time and can be costly. BGF assists portfolio companies through our Value Creation team, specifically the Expertise On-Demand service, which connects businesses with skilled executives on an ad hoc or consultancy basis.

Businesses have used Expertise On-Demand for a range of purposes. For example, hiring an ESG expert to slash energy costs, a marketing consultant to boost e-commerce sales, or a part-time finance director to assist with an exit process. In life or business, you are only as strong as the people around you, which is why it is critical to surround yourself with specialists who can provide targeted support.

I’ve outlined the way BGF helps portfolio companies succeed in their growth journeys. These principles apply to any business, regardless of its funding model. It doesn’t matter whether you are a long-established family business, a brand-new university spinout, or the latest venture from a serial entrepreneur. Success in your growth journey depends on harnessing the power of finance to speed up your growth. It depends on advice to help you allocate finances wisely and skills to help you navigate your way to success.

I wish you good luck in growing your business.

Going through growth means constantly adapting to change. New challenges, new opportunities, and new risks are around every corner.

That’s true now more than ever: we’re living through a period of exponential technological evolution. The advent of AI, for example, is upending every aspect of our work, and businesses, big and small, need to seek opportunities and steer clear of the risks.

Being resilient in this time means having the right skills in place. But the skills that companies need are ever-changing, so there needs to be a mechanism to rapidly deliver skills that are relevant, up-to-date, and ready for application in the workplace.

The good news is this mechanism already exists: the apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are often viewed as an alternative to university for school leavers taking their first step into a career. For this function, they are brilliant. Apprenticeships open up access to top careers for young people who simply aren’t being reached through traditional grad schemes.

But apprenticeships are not just for people starting their career. Apprenticeships can offer lifelong learning for established professionals, to enhance the role they are currently doing or move into a new one: helping them as individuals keep pace with the changing employment landscape, and your business keep up with its ever-changing skills needs. This has never been more important than in the age of data and the rapid rollout of new technologies.

In partnership with Deloitte, Multiverse is facilitating the funding to support several hundred apprenticeships through levy donations from big organisations towards startups and SMEs.

Through this funding, a growing business can launch an entry-level apprenticeship programme, attracting new talent from diverse backgrounds into the business. Or, they can plug skills gaps by developing people already in the business - whether it’s enrolling a non-technical worker on our Software Engineering programme to fill a skills gap or a business leader on our Data Fellowship so they can make data-driven decisions based on the trends.

It’s a no-brainer for businesses, which can retain their top talent while expanding their organisational skill set, but it’s also a win for the individuals who are enrolled. They get to enhance the trajectory of their career: a third of those individuals enrolled on Multiverse programmes through the Deloitte Skills Hub received a promotion while they were on their apprenticeship.

There are already 89 organisations that are taking up training from the Deloitte Skills Hub - among them is Goodlord. The PropTech startup has enrolled 20 of its team members on Multiverse’s data analytics programmes, enabling them to harness data better to identify revenue-generating opportunities, make processes more efficient, and predict customer behaviour.

Joanna Harman, Director of People, said: “Through the Skills Hub and Multiverse apprenticeships, we're able to offer our teams access to high-quality training. We work in a fast-paced environment with team members who are keen to develop quickly. That's why it's so important to provide them with training that suits their needs but also helps drive the pace within our sector. We're already seeing the benefit in our team's day-to-day output, and know that training will help to develop their long-term careers.”

We’re offering fully funded professional development opportunities to all entrants of this year’s awards. If you recognise these challenges and want to explore how apprenticeships can help, the easiest way to start is to reach out to the Fast 50 team at You can also learn more about the Skills Hub by visiting our dedicated microsite.

Regions in focus


1.50m active companies
6,411 high-growth tech companies
£14.1b equity investment raised by high-growth tech companies in 2022

London stands at the forefront of the UK’s tech ecosystem, accounting for 43.4% of the high-growth tech population. Notably, areas such as Hackney, Westminster, and Camden have emerged as prime locations for technology hubs popular among tech businesses from cyber security to HealthTech. In 2022, these companies secured a significant £14.1b in equity investment. Additionally, the Capital benefits from top academic institutions, such as Imperial College London and UCL, which provide a steady stream of innovation and talent, coupled with access to funding and state-of-the-art facilities.

London is home to last year’s top-ranked Fast 50 winner, Tripledot Studios, and accounts for 38 (76%) of this year’s Fast 50 companies. Winners include cyber security platform Intruder. Based in Hackney, the company specialises in vulnerability scanning and attack surface management. Another Fast 50 winner to watch is spatial data technology company Pupil. The Westminster-based company leverages AI technology to analyse commercial and residential properties and create digital 3D reconstructions of real-world spaces.


290k active companies
862 high-growth companies
£686m in equity investment raised by high-growth tech companies in 2022

Scotland is a thriving hub for tech innovation boasting 862 high-growth tech companies, which secured an impressive £686m in equity investment in 2022. The region is home to an emerging cluster of life science companies and top academic institutions, such as The University of Edinburgh, The University of Glasgow, and The University of Strathclyde which also offer a wealth of resources and access to a rich talent pool.

This year’s Fast 50 winners include four Scottish-based businesses, including last year’s Regional Winner Amiqus. This year, health and fitness company The Original Fit Factory takes the top spot as Scotland’s Fast 50 Regional Winner. The Glasgow-headquartered company operates multiple brands providing products and services targeted at improving individuals’ health and well-being. Brands under its umbrella include Virtual Run and Niyama Sol. The former provides remote running events for individuals worldwide, while the latter is a sustainable lifestyle apparel brand.

South West and Wales

511k active companies
1,207 high-growth tech companies
£855m investment raised by high-growth tech companies in 2022

The South West and Wales region is an important hub in the UK’s tech landscape, home to key cities like Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, and Bath. The region boasts 511k active companies across sectors, of which 1,207 are high-growth tech firms. In 2022, these tech companies raised an impressive £855m in equity investment.

The region is home to three of this year’s Fast 50 companies: Bournemouth-based, a unique online marketplace founded in 2016 that distinguishes itself by not stocking its own inventory, making it a more equitable trading environment for retailers. Bristol-based Rovco is focused on automating offshore services for oil field decommissioning and renewable energy. Founded in 2015, Rovco has developed technology for autonomous underwater vehicle systems, crucial for seabed mapping and subsea infrastructure inspection. Also based in Bristol is Deazy, a marketplace launched in 2016 that connects businesses with pre-vetted, high-performing development teams for flexible and scalable project engagements.

South East

711k active companies
1,954 high-growth tech companies
£1.97b investment raised by high-growth tech companies in 2022

The South East is home to 711k active businesses, the second highest population of the UK regions, likely due to the region’s proximity to London and its associated talent pool, facilities, and investors. The region’s high-growth companies raised £1.97b in investment in 2022, second only to London for regional investment.

This year’s South East Regional Winner is Crawley-based Bramble Energy. Spun out of Imperial College London in 2016, it aims to make clean technology both scalable and accessible. Bramble has accelerated the production of custom hydrogen fuel cells, which have a variety of uses, from cars to construction equipment.


704k active companies
1,020 high-growth tech businesses
£341m investment raised by high-growth tech companies in 2022

The Midlands boasts 704k active firms, the third highest for any region in the UK, of which 1,020 are high-growth tech businesses. Birmingham’s high population plays a role in the large number of businesses located in the Midlands, alongside the presence of high-quality universities such as the University of Warwick and the University of Nottingham.

Two of this year’s Fast 50 companies are located in the Midlands. Warwick-based Moasure has developed a smartphone app that combines length measure and spirit level functions to allow users to measure and map complex spaces. The app connects to a motion measurement device that tracks movement and elevation to produce accurate visualisations of spaces. The Midlands Regional Winner, Warwick Acoustics, has developed thin and flexible speakers that are incorporated into its own headphones and can also be custom-fitted for automobiles. Its approach saves up to 75% of the weight and power consumption compared to conventional technology. Its speakers also contain no rare earth metals, making them more environmentally friendly than traditional audio technology.

Yorkshire and the North East

435k active companies
840 high-growth companies
£556m in equity investment raised by high-growth tech companies in 2022

Yorkshire and the North East is a growing hub for UK tech companies, home to cities like Newcastle and Leeds. The Yorkshire and North East region is home to more than 800 high-growth tech enterprises, which collectively raised an impressive £556m in equity investment in 2022.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the most prominent sector for tech companies in this region, accounting for 23.2% of the tech company population. Last year’s Regional Winner, Newcastle-based iamproperty, operates a SaaS business offering auctioneering, conveyancing, and moving services via its property auction company iamsold. Sheffield-based UniHomes represents this year’s Regional Winner for Yorkshire and the North East. The company operates a digital rental platform that connects students with landlords and residential properties to lease.

Cambridge and East England

484k active companies
1,218 high-growth tech companies
£1.40b investment raised by high-growth tech companies in 2022

Cambridge and East England is home to 1,218 high-growth tech companies, the third most by region in the UK, despite a population of 484k active businesses, ranking it fifth. High-growth companies in the region have raised £1.40b in investment, with the region only behind London and the South East for total value received.

The University of Cambridge is likely a key factor in the large population of high-growth tech companies. The institution produces a large number of spinout companies, which are typically high-potential, tech-driven companies. This region also has a variety of support mechanisms in place, which help develop the business population. This includes accelerator programmes such as Angels@Essex, which prepares innovative businesses for investment and links them with angel investors. Epos Now are the 2023 Regional Winner for the Cambridgeshire and East England region. Based in Norwich and established in 2011, Epon Now provides online point-of-sale products for companies within the retail and hospitality sectors. This includes hardware, such as cash tills and printers, as well as software. The software can be tailored to the specific needs of the customer within each industry, for example, stock control software and links to food delivery apps for restaurants.

Northern Ireland

82k active companies
268 high-growth tech companies
£107m in equity investment by high-growth tech companies in 2022

Northern Ireland is home to 82k active companies, with 268 of these being high-growth tech enterprises. Despite its modest company population, high-growth tech companies in this region have amassed £107m in equity funding.

Academic spinouts play a key role in Northern Ireland’s tech sphere, emerging from high-calibre academic institutions such as Queen’s University Belfast. These spinouts are prime examples of Northern Ireland’s innovation capabilities. Northern Ireland offers a range of support mechanisms tailored for emerging businesses. For instance, the development agency Invest Northern Ireland provides both financial support and expert advice to startups and established businesses. The Catalyst Belfast FinTech Hub is a science and technology hub that looks to provide services to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. This ranges from coworking space to networking opportunities, which help facilitate collaboration and innovation.

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