Impact technology firms see investment surge as values hit £50bn

Investment in UK impact technology firms jumped to £2 billion in the past year as the sector passed a total valuation of £50 billion, according to new data.

Impact tech firms – which use technology to address issues such as climate change and global health – saw funding rise £300 million from 2020, according to data from Dealroom compiled for the UK’s Digital Economy Council.

Investment in the sector was found to have increased 127% since 2018, taking the total value of the sector beyond £50 billion for the first time.

Climate tech firms led the hike in investment, with green energy provider Octopus Energy raising the biggest round of the past year of £438 million, followed by electric car subscription platform Onto, which attracted £130 million in July.

Firms in the climate tech sector were found to have attracted 65% of impact deals over the past year, according to the figures.

The data comes 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.

Ms Dorries said: “We want to harness the power of technology to make greener, healthier and safer choices and I’m hosting the first Future Tech Forum in London to discuss how we can make that happen through future governance, policy and co-operation.

“In particular, they will discuss how technology can deliver positive global change and deliver some of the ambitious targets agreed by nations at Cop26.”

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

Twelve impact firms have now achieved one billion dollar valuation “unicorn” status, including Bristol-based flying-taxi firm Vertical Aerospace and ITM Power in Sheffield, which designs and manufactures hydrogen energy systems.

Impact tech firms were found to have created 35,000 jobs across the UK.