The UK has created just three billion-dollar tech companies in the last decade, according to research produced by the Atomico venture capital group, which is headed by Skype co-founder, Niklas Zennström.

The majority of tech startups that have gone on to achieve a billion-dollar valuation in the past decade came from outside Silicon Valley, the study found. 

The study into “unicorns” – booming tech companies that are valued at $1 billion following an initial public offering, sale or publicly-declared funding round  revealed that over 60 percent of major internet or software companies were created beyond the San Francisco Bay Area.

The research, summarised on this interactive website, analysed the 134 companies that have reached the billion-dollar mark in the last 10 years. It found that 52 came from Silicon Valley, while 34 came from Asia and 21 came from Europe. There were none from Latin America, Africa or the Middle East.

Commenting on the results of the study, Atomico wrote on its website that great tech companies can come from anywhere.

“Like athletes and artists, the qualities needed to be a world-class entrepreneur - vision, courage, technical knowhow, the ability to build a great team, and a deep competitive streak - are not confined to any one country,” it said. “And the spread of the Internet, open source software and cloud computing over the past decade has removed many of the traditional barriers to starting a technology business.”

“The majority of the 134 companies that met the billion-dollar bar have actually been built outside Silicon Valley, with 61 percent coming from other cities - and the gap is widening. Silicon Valley is of course the preeminent single location, with 52 companies. But it is far from being the only game in town.”

Focus on Europe

In Europe, five unicorns came from Scandinavia (Spotify, Skype, King, Klarna and Mojang), three came from the UK (Wonga, Monitise and Zoopla) and Germany (Zalando, Rocket Internet and DeliveryHero), and two came from France (Criteo and BlaBlaCar). The remainder came from other countries such as Russia and Israel. 

The UK government has publicly said it is on a mission to create its own Apple or Google in the next decade, both of which hail from Silicon Valley and are worth hundreds of billions.

However, sceptics argue this will be difficult without the same level of venture capital backing that tech companies in Silicon Valley have available to them. Further, many of the UK's most promising tech startups are snapped up by the US heavyweights before they can become billion dollar companies. For example, Google acquired London artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for a reported $400 million (£232 million) earlier this year, while Twitter acquired London's TweetDeck for £25 million in 2011. 

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