The North of England and Scotland is a large and diverse area, and this is reflected in the range of companies on the inaugural Northern Tech 100 league table. We have everything from e-commerce giants like The Hut Group to smaller software businesses like Tribepad who are using machine learning and artificial intelligence in their recruitment software.
Here we delve a little deeper into the research behind the league table and what it reveals about the sector.
Just over a third of the list (35 companies) is made up of enterprise software providers such as hedgehog lab and Purple WiFi. 26 businesses fall in the digital media category, including TVSquared and LADbible Group. IT services companies account for 13 companies including Cloud Technology Solutions and Azzure IT. E-commerce businesses include The Car Buying Group and Tyres on the Drive.
The remainder of the list is made up of providers of non-telecoms hardware such as LPW Technology, telecoms services such as Telcom Networks, and fintech such as Zuto. Eight of the Top 100 describe themselves as ‘digital agencies’ (Degree 53, Engage Interactive Ltd, Parallax, Mando, Fat Media, WMG, Fresh Generation UK LTD, Yoomee).
The young sub-sectors
While their number is low, it’s encouraging that a range of younger sub-sectors are represented on the league table, given the criteria stipulates entrants must have been making money for the past three years with a minimum of £500,000 revenue in 2014.
GP Bullhound has ranked the top 50 fastest growing tech companies in the North for the past three years for its Northern Tech Awards. There are seven companies that have appeared on all four lists from 2014 to 2017, indicating strong, sustained growth over a significant period of time. Those companies are Chess, Mobica, ResponseTap, eBECS, Aspire Technology Solutions, Godel Technologies Europe, and Metronet (UK).
The best improvement in ranking between 2016 and 2017 was LADbible Group, which rose from 19th to 3rd, indicating a strong and improving performance over the past four years. On this year’s Top 100 league table, 66 of the companies have not appeared in any of those top 50 lists in previous years.
Women in tech
There are 23 companies where female shareholders account for at least 20% of the shareholding; in ten of these, women own at least half of the company. These include Angel Solutions, Interact, Degree 53, UKFast, Team17, Advancery Limited, NiteSite, Opencast Software Europe, Shield Safety Group, Yoomee and Pink Boutique (the only company wholly owned by women).
Just four of these companies (Team 17, Advancery Limited, Pink Boutique and Yoomee), were founded or co-founded by women who still have senior managerial responsibility. And just three companies have female managing directors or chief operating officers who are neither founders or shareholders (Delete, Panintelligence, Redu Group Ltd).
Socially driven businesses
Two of the Top 100 companies are driven by a social mission to help those more vulnerable in society. Reason Digital (ranked 38th with growth of 46%) are a social enterprise, which means they reinvest their profits to further their mission, while Yoomee (ranked 99th, with growth of 13%) is more of a ‘mission-led business’, fully commercial but with a particular emphasis on projects for the community, charities and social enterprises.
There is one clear unicorn (by GP Bullhound’s definition, this is a tech company founded after 2000, with a valuation of at least $1bn) in this year’s list, and one which qualified as a unicorn at the time of the investment, but exchange rate movements have reduced its dollar value.
The Hut Group was valued at around £900m in their last round of investment (equivalent to $1.1bn at current exchange rates) while Sky Betting and Gaming was valued at £800m, equivalent to $973.6m at current exchange rates, and $1.3bn at the time.
While there are relatively few hardware manufacturers and suppliers in the Top 100, they showcase a diverse range of advanced manufacturing specialisms, such as the development of accessories for the Raspberry Pi (Pimoroni), 3D Printing (LPW Technology), powering electric vehicles and battery energy storage systems
(Hyperdrive Innovation), audio-visual and interactive tech (Elementary Technology), VOIP technology (ProVu Communications) and night vision products (NiteSite).
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