15 UK technology companies you need to know about

Britain has a bigger footprint in the tech industry than you might think. Here are some of the most significant players that hail from the UK.
1 of 16 Frank Fiscbach/iStock

London's tech giants

When it comes to the technology industry, people often assume Silicon Valley is the only location producing innovation.

However, that's certainly not the case. A recent EY survey ranks London alongside San Francisco when it comes to tech innovation. Here are some of the UK tech firms which stand out on the global stage.

2 of 16 ARM


Products created by Cambridge processor designer ARM play a significant role in our lives. If you own an iPhone, most other types of smartphones, a fitness tracker, a laptop, or countless other devices that form part of our everyday lives, then you're using ARM technology. Indeed, over 60 billion ARM-based chips have been shipped to date.

Founded in 1978 and arguably stronger than ever almost 40 years later, ARM generated nearly $1bn in revenue in 2015. ARM already powers large number of Apple and Samsung devices -- and it has set its sights on powering the Internet of Things revolution too. In future, your connected home may be powered by ARM chips.

3 of 16 WANdisco


One part of WANdisco's headquarters is located in San Roman, California, where employees enjoy a Mediterranean climate; the other is in Sheffield, where on the whole, people do not.

WANdisco's products are based on its active-active data replication technology for high availability systems like Hadoop.

Global customers of WANdisco include AT&T, Honda, Motorola, and Disney. The company was founded in 2005 by software industry exec David Richards, who still serves as CEO.

4 of 16 BQ


Founded by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth in 2004 and headquartered in London, Canonical is best known for developing the Ubuntu open-source operating system and other free software tools.

Still led by Shuttleworth, the company counts approximately 700 employees, and has global reach, working with partners to ensure Ubuntu is available pre-installed on PCs in more than 3,000 retailers around the world. It also builds cloud data centres and works alongside hardware and software providers to ensure that the open source system is available for every platform.

Ubuntu currently has over 25 million users across the globe, with the system deployed on desktop, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and servers.

5 of 16 Huddle


With such a strong presence in the US, you might be forgiven for thinking cloud-based collaboration software firm Huddle is as American as they come -- however, you'd be wrong. Founded in London by Alastair Mitchell and Andy McLoughlin in 2006, the company has raised millions in funding and continues to expand across the globe.

Now Huddle is used within over 160,000 organizations, including major global brands. It boasts significant uptake in government with over 80 percent of central UK government departments using it in some way. The company has also established the Huddle Foundation to provide free software packages to charities including UNICEF.

6 of 16 Imagination Technologies

Imagination Technologies

Hertfordshire is the home of the worldwide HQ of Imagination Technologies, a British chip designer which has seen its products used to power mobile application processors in popular devices include Apple's iPhone.

Earlier this year Apple said it had held discussions about acquiring the chip designer, although they seem to have come to naught, as the iPhone maker subsequently said it had no plans to buy the British firm "at this time".

Imagination's designs are used in technologies including wearable devices, virtual reality headsets, cars, and consumer multimedia. The firm is now pushing to take advantage of the Internet of Things boom with new chips designed to be used in a range of connected devices.

7 of 16 Wileyfox


UK startup Wileyfox has big ideas for its smartphone operation, with plans to ship two million low-cost handsets over the next 12 months -- the company has already built 250,000.

The recently unveiled smartphones run Cyanogen OS, an open source version of Android, with the cheapest version on sale for just £89.99. At a time when many of the top smartphone manufactuers are driving up prices, Wileyfox CEO Nick Muir argues that this doesn't need to be the case.

"The idea that a handset needs to cost as much as the laptop on your knee seems insane, frankly," he said.

8 of 16 Darktrace


Initially a project by mathematicians and machine learning specialists at the the University of Cambridge, cybersecurity firm Darktrace is now valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

The company says that its cyberdefence tool is capable of using machine learning to automatically fight back against cybercrime threats, even if the malicious intrusion is previously unknown, thanks to a technique which draws upon 'digital antibodies' to ensure cybersecurity.

The company boasts high-profile backers such as Jonathan Evans, the former director general of MI5.

9 of 16 Qubit


Founded in 2010 by former Google employees Graham Cooke, Emre Baran, Daniel Shellard, and Ian McCaig, London-based Qubit set out to revamp data analytics for e-commerce in order to improve customer experience.

The company's digital marketing hub combines big data and personalisation, which enables retailers to intelligently determine what customers may or may not need in order to improve and tailor online shopping.

From relatively small beginnings, Qubit has gone global, securing over $75m in funding and working with the likes of Topshop, Superdry, and more major high-street names. The company has only 63 employees in London, but its data hub processes more than 1.5 billion customer events online everyday.

10 of 16 Sky Futures

Sky Futures

Headquartered in Hayes, West London, Sky-Futures is a drone startup which has acquired over $10 million in funding. Co-founded by James Harrison, Chris Blackford, and Nick Rogers in 2009, the company develops unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to provide offshore and onshore inspections for the Oil and Gas industry.

Using HD video and thermal images to remotely carry out inspections in areas ranging from the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea to the Middle East, Sky-Futures works with over 35 of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. Pilots control the drones remotely, allowing inspections to take place in a safe and cost-effective manner.

11 of 16 Onfido


Startups are known to grow at such a fast rate that it can be difficult for their small HR teams to do all the necessary paperwork required when employing a new hire. One London based startup -- Onfido -- is looking to smooth out that process with its intelligent background checking software.

Founded in 2012 out of Oxford University by Ruhul Amin, Husayn Kassai, and Eamon Jubbawy, Onfido uses machine learning technology to deliver verification and background checks, allowing businesses verify anyone in the world -- be it a new employee or potential customer -- in just seconds.

Having raised over $30m in funding, the company operates in 28 countries and counts JustGiving and Deliveroo as customers.

12 of 16 Nomad Digital

Nomad Digital

Heading north, Newcastle has been home to Nomad Digital, a global provider of wireless connectivity and IT solutions to the railway sector, since 2002.

Nomad designs, builds, deploys, and maintains passenger Wi-Fi and information systems for companies in the UK, US, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and more. The company has almost half the market share of connected vehicles in the rail sector and is active in over 50 countries.

The company counts more than 50 customers across the world and employs over 300 people located across offices in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

13 of 16 MWR InfoSecurity

MWR InfoSecurity

Established in Basingstoke in 2003, MWR Infosecurity is a research-led cybersecurity consultancy which has expanded across the world, now incorporating offices in New York, Johannesburg, Dubai, and Singapore.

The company has customers in the finance, energy, telecoms, insurance, media, and technology sectors, which all take advantage of what MWR describe as a "deep understanding" of specific industry needs and the cyber defences each of their clients require.

Regarded as thought-leaders in the cybersecurity community, MWR Infosecurity has hosted a yearly hackathon -- HackFu -- since 2008. The event sees teams compete to complete a series of tasks designed to challenge them with the unfamiliar in an effort to bring innovation to the cybercrime fight.

14 of 16 Image: The Floow

The Floow

In 2016, data is king and telematics and analytics are used in almost every part of our lives in order to make what we do quicker, more efficient, or safer. Sheffield-based company The Floow has a backbone in computer science, research, and big data and is using its insight in order to make vehicles both safer and cheaper.

The Floow has done that by designing and operating what it claims to be the world's most insightful and user-friendly telematics system. It provides auto companies and insurance providers with analytics on drivers' smartphone data in order to provide better services and ROI -- all the while helping the motorist driver more safely.

The company has around 60 employees and works with some of the most well-known auto and insurance companies in the world, including Verizon, Europcar, and RSA.

15 of 16 AP/Lee-Jin man


Some British tech stars have already been acquired by global players. Artificial intelligence and neural networking company DeepMind, for instance, rose to prominence last year when its AlphaGo become the first computer program to beat a professional player at the ancient Chinese game of Go. Then in March this year, the program beat Lee Sedol, one of the best players in the world.

Founded in London by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg, and Mustafa Suleyman in 2010, the artificial intelligence startup received funding from high-profile backers including Elon Musk. But just four years later the British AI company was bought by Google for $500m.

16 of 16 SwiftKey


Southwark is home to SwiftKey, a company which uses AI to improve predictive text and emoji input on Android and iOS devices.

SwiftKey was founded by John Reynolds and Ben Medlock in 2008 with the aim of making typing on phones easier and faster. They achieved this by using AI to continually learn from what users' type in over 100 different languages.

The company was purchased by Microsoft for $250m in February 2016. Despite employing 160 staff in offices across the globe, its headquarters remain in London.

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