The Rise of UK’s Startup Ecosystems

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The UK’s startup ecosystem is renowned as a global leader, ranking #1 in Europe and #3 globally behind the US and China for venture capital (VC) investment. Traditionally, London has been the focal point for VC investment. However, recent years have seen a remarkable shift, with significant growth in VC funding across various regions in the UK, including notable hubs such as Glasgow, Belfast, and Bristol. This article explores the increasing trend of decentralized VC investment and highlights the rise of these emerging startup ecosystems.

Decentralization of VC Investment Across the UK

Venture capital funding in the UK is experiencing a significant decentralization, moving beyond the traditional stronghold of London. In 2023, London-based startups attracted $13.5 billion, constituting 65% of the total UK VC investment. While still a substantial share, this marks a decline from 75% in 2019. This reduction is indicative of the burgeoning growth seen in other regions, fostering a more evenly distributed entrepreneurial landscape across the country.

Regions such as the West Midlands, Glasgow, and Northern Ireland are witnessing the fastest growth in VC investment. For instance, Birmingham saw a rapid surge in 2023, primarily due to a significant funding round by robotics startup Conigital. This mega round was one of the largest funding events outside London in the UK last year, highlighting Birmingham’s rising prominence as a startup hub. These trends are not isolated; they reflect a broader national movement towards a more decentralized VC investment landscape, enabling startups across the UK to thrive.

Notable Growing Startup Ecosystems: Glasgow, Belfast, and Bristol

Glasgow City Region

Glasgow experienced a record year in 2023, with startups raising $224 million, more than double the amount in 2022 and 21% higher than the previous record in 2021. This surge was significantly driven by strong investments in health tech, with health tech startups accounting for 50% of the VC funding. Notable companies like Chemify, ENOUGH, and HVS contributed to three of the five largest funding rounds ever seen in Glasgow’s startup ecosystem. The Invest Glasgow platform provides detailed insights into these trends and the dynamic growth of the region’s startups.


Belfast’s startup ecosystem had its second-best year on record in 2023, attracting $123 million in VC investment, only slightly below the record set in 2022. A significant contributor to this was Weev, Northern Ireland’s largest privately operated EV charging network, which secured a £50 million funding round. This exemplifies the growing momentum in Belfast’s tech scene, driven by substantial investments in sustainable and innovative technologies.


Bristol has emerged as a vital player in the UK’s startup ecosystem, particularly in energy and climate tech. OVO Energy’s major funding round in 2023 was not only the largest for Bristol but also the biggest climate tech funding round outside London. Since 2018, Bristol has seen a significant increase in funding rounds across various sectors, including fintech, energy, transportation, and health.

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