A breeding ground for unicorns

A breeding ground for unicorns

The number of potential ‘unicorn’ companies emerging in the north west of England continues to grow, and experts predict that the government’s Northern Powerhouse plans could make the region an even more attractive proposition for digital entrepreneurs...

A study by international investment bank GP Bullhound has identified 12 North West businesses it predicts will become unicorns in the near future.

Each of these “foals” was started after the year 2000, and each one is thought to be a strong contender to hit US$1bn in value within the next few years.

These include the likes of Avecto, Blue Prism, Daisy, GB Group, The Hut Group, Missguided, NCC Group, On The Beach, Parcel2Go.com, RealityMine, UKFast, and Zuto.

In their own unique report, digital recruitment firm Forward Role explored the concept of unicorns around the world, and how their numbers are growing both in Europe and the UK.

They also spoke to a number of experts - many of them business owners themselves - for their thoughts on what makes the North West an increasingly viable location for start-ups to settle.

In the report, Richard Mercer, co-founder of Parcel2Go.com (a potential billion-dollar business), believes the development of transport links such as HS2 and HS3 will be essential.

The proposed railways will ensure that the main Northern cities are connected to Birmingham and London, with some journey times being slashed to just 30 minutes. For both commuting and conducting business, speedier travel times can only mean growth.

He said: “Improved transportation will be fundamental to the Northern Powerhouse plan, and key to any budding business.

“The improvement of commuter journeys between the key Northern cities of Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield into Manchester will give start-ups much better access to talent pools across the region.”

David Grimes of Manchester-based My Parcel Delivery Group also discussed the importance of collaboration to deliver successful Northern businesses in the future.

Grimes said: “The common themes seem to be joined-up thinking between the public and private sectors, academia and business, plus strong leadership.

“Schools need coding to be part of their curriculum from primary school onwards, Manchester University needs to become known as the best place in the country to study maths and computer science.

“Tech companies need to offer ways to help graduates become even more commercially ‘ready to work’, councils need to create ready-made campuses for tech companies, plus provide the housing and transport that will attract top talent and the business community needs to build agile networks of start-ups, fast-growth businesses and enterprise-level firms, with support from investors.” 

The fact that so many high-profile tech and media organisations have already laid roots in the North West indicates that this is anything but a temporary trend, and its appeal among budding entrepreneurs is continuing to grow.

As plans to bring the Northern Powerhouse to life continue to take shape – the future looks bright for the North West.