UK throws a splash event in New York this week to attract more American VCs TechCrunch |

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A 3D hologramCalled the Ever-Changing Statue, it will be on display at the Rise by Barclays workspace in New York until April 4.

Wine and nibbling burrata, a group of government officials, reporters and entrepreneurs gathered at its launch, watching a hologram display alternated by images of food waste co-founders such as the UK's top unicorn entrepreneur Tessa Clarke. startup Olio, and Alexander and Oliver Kent-Braham, founders of insurance startup Marshmallow.

The show celebrated the UK as the third $1 trillion tech economy, ahead of only the US and China.

Despite Brexit having its economic implications, the UK authorities have seen American VCs from 2020 onwards, its tech ecosystem seeing a healthy development. Dealroom data shows that UK startups will raise $31 billion in venture capital in 2022 and $41 billion in 2021. Last year, the UK raised $21 billion in venture capital – albeit a drop, given the market's pullback, it's still higher. France and Germany were bred together. This is more than the $18 billion the UK raised in 2019 and the $12 billion raised in 2018.

Black entrepreneurs, who have historically struggled to secure funding, also appear to be seeing progress. Between 2009 and 2019, just 38 UK black founders raised venture capital funding—that number is now up to 80, according to an updated report by Extend Ventures.

It says the UK is home to more than 160 unicorns and 12 decacorns (companies valued at more than $10 billion). FinTech is a particularly niche area, including Monzo, Revolut and Wise. With the rise of DeepMind and Benevolent AI, it is also becoming a hub for artificial intelligence. And there's a bit of pride from those at the event that it's a fan-only home.

The hologram – and British government officials – are selling its potential as a major attraction for the UK, a sales pitch clearly designed to boost the sluggish economy.

Hologram features some of the UK's leading entrepreneurs and CEOs Image Credits: great

Although talent from other European countries has slowed in the UK, there is still a flow of migration from other countries, meaning ideas, recruitment and once again potential. Other cities in the country, such as Manchester and Cambridge, also flourished.

Rodney Appiah, co-founder of UK-based venture firm Cornerstone Ventures, spoke to TechCrunch about some of the holes waiting to be filled in the UK, saying there is room for more funding and accelerator programs. Have more senior talent to help companies move from early stage to growth.

Paul Taylor, CEO of Thought Machine and one of the people pictured in the hologram, echoed the need for more venture funds dedicated to the area, which UK companies typically need to get overseas investors as they grow.

“The UK tech ecosystem has made significant progress, but work remains to reach the scale and impact of Silicon Valley,” Taylor told TechCrunch.

At the same time, Appiah says the ecosystem is dealing with more emerging managers, micro-funds and, ultimately, access to more risk capital. “We're also seeing more VC involvement from (corporations) and institutional investors.”

Having a hologram in New York is an attempt to attract the attention of American startups and investors. A 2023 report by HSBC Innovation Banking – formerly SVB – found that US investors were the largest source of funding for British startups last year. The Times reports that more American tech entrepreneurs are buying real estate in London, but NEA, Bessemer and a16z have all opened offices there in the past few years.

On the other hand, not all investors have fared well with their attempts to invest outside London. Two high-profile investors, Omers and Coatue, have recently significantly scaled back or closed their European outpost operations in London.

However, perhaps the biggest draw for Americans is that the British seem willing to work with investors and entrepreneurs to build a tech ecosystem. In fact, friendly regulation is one of the reasons why a16z opened its crypto office in London, as the US looks to impose regulations on the industry.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – who created the Unicorn Kingdom initiative – unveiled a plan last year to invest £370 million (about $468 million) to support the country's technology ambitions. Last summer, the British government announced a deal with the country's nine largest pension funds to begin investing assets in startups, which the government estimates could unlock £50 billion of capital if the rest of the pension industry decides to invest in startups as well.

It's no wonder that a glowing hologram in red, white and blue is being marketed as a symbol of the future. “Creating a two-way road between the USA and the UK is a win for both countries,” said Clarke.

Designed by British company HYPERVSN, the statue will be on display till April 4.

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