The UK is among the world’s best nations for growing technology startups into ‘unicorns’ – independently owned businesses which are valued at over $1 billion.

There are currently only 750 such businesses in the world, and the UK (31) plays host to the fourth-most behind the US (378), China (155) and India (34).

However, it is further down the league table when it comes to the speed with which it creates these unicorns.

It has taken the UK’s 31 unicorns an average of 8 years and 7 months to reach the valuation of $1bn. That puts it down in ninth spot.

The country that produces the startups which reach a $1bn valuation fastest is China, with its 155 unicorn companies taking an average of just 5 years and 10 months to get there. 

Second fastest is Hong Kong, whose businesses take an average of 6 years and 1 month, followed by those in Japan, which take an average of 6 years and 3 months. 

Fourth spot is taken by the USA, Singapore and Australia, whose unicorn companies all took an average of 6 years and 11 months to break the barrier. 

Israel and France also pipped the UK in terms of speed.

RankCountryNo. of companiesAverage months to $1bnAverage years to $1bn
#2Hong Kong5736
#13South Korea1013011

The research from also broke the unicorns down by sector/technology.

Fastest to £1bn was Auto & Transportation (31 companies, 4 years and 5 months) ahead of Artificial Intelligence (62 companies, 5 years and 6 months) and Hardware (27 companies, 5 years and 7 months).

These were followed by Mobile & Telecoms; eCommerce & Direct-to-Consumer; Supply Chain, Logistics & Delivery; Cybersecurity; Data Management & Analytics; FinTech; and Travel.

RankSectorNo. of companiesAverage months to $1bnAverage years to $1bn
#1Auto & transportation31534
#2Artificial Inteligence 62665
#4Mobile & telecommunications35766
#4E-commerce & direct-to-consumer82766
#6Supply chain, logistics, & delivery42837
#8Data management & analytics27847
#12Internet software & services1171018
#14Consumer & retail2112410