Cash rolls in as foreign investors continue to rank the UK above the EU for new projects.

Graham Charles Lear
9 min readNov 29, 2023

2022

The UK retains its crown and job creation is the largest for a decade

This report covers foreign direct investment into the UK and into the EU. It is based on the work of EY with their annual “attractiveness surveys”. The latest set came out on Monday and they clearly show the UK leading the EU when it comes to new foreign direct investment projects.

Whilst this may sound like a dry subject (some might even think “dull”), bear with ME.

Foreign investment in the UK last year generated 60,372 jobs — the country’s highest level in the last 10 years — and brought considerable wealth into Brexit Britain.

1. New foreign direct investment projects — UK versus the EU — 2021

  1. United Kingdom: 764
  2. France: 678
  3. Germany: 381
  4. Spain: 286

Average jobs created per new project

  1. United Kingdom: 68
  2. France: 48
  3. Germany: 38

Total jobs created in the UK in 2021 from new foreign investment projects: 60,372

“Brexit has not damaged the UK’s fundamental appeal”

Commenting on the annual EY Attractiveness Survey, Anna Anthony,
UK Financial Services Managing Partner at EY said:

Six years since the EU referendum, we can be confident that Brexit has not damaged the UK’s fundamental appeal, with its deep history in financial services and access to top talent. Investors clearly recognise that the UK continues to offer a unique environment for growth, innovation and progress.

“That’s not to say the UK isn’t facing strong competition, and France in particular has narrowed the gap. But the UK secured a much higher number of ‘new’ projects, which typically create more jobs and higher levels of investment.

And how are things looking for 2022 and beyond?

The EY reports do not only look at last year, they also look ahead. Here the picture is even rosier.

“One of our most striking top-line findings is that sentiment towards UK investments is increasingly positive this year. Over half — 58% — of the investors surveyed are planning to invest in the UK in 2022, up from 41% last year and the highest level of intent ever recorded in these surveys.

- EY Attractiveness Survey 2022

Foreign investors planning to make UK investments in next 12 months
in new and existing projects

Here are figures from before the Referendum

  • 2016: 23%
  • 2017: 24%
  • 2018: 24%
  • 2019: 23%
  • 2020: 41%
  • 2021: 58%

I always like to bring readers information they will not see elsewhere. In this case, a highly detailed set of reports came out on Monday from the well-respected EY (formerly ‘Ernst and Young’) stable, which we looked at in detail.

I also like to focus on what is new. In the EY report the really interesting information appeared way down. In summary, I looked at this and the results once again show Brexit Britain in a very positive light. What I found most interesting was the number of NEW foreign direct investment projects — and how the United Kingdom is once again ahead of all EU countries.

What was also striking was the quality of these investments. Those placed in the UK create far more jobs than those in the EU.

It is also encouraging to see the immense growth in the number of foreign companies expecting to invest in the newly independent United Kingdom this year. It is difficult to see this as anything other than a vote of confidence in Brexit Britain, from around the world.

The value of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) exceeds £2 TRILLION for the first time

In the first full year of Brexit, all previous records were broken, as inward FDI topped the £2 TRILLION mark for the first time ever.

(Mon 23 Jan 2023) the Office for National Statistics unveiled its latest 2021 figures for foreign companies investing in Brexit Britain (FDI).

Inward investment increased by £83.2 billion in 2021 and the overall figure has increased by 68.7% since the EU Referendum year of 2016.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the UK, 2021

[Source: Latest figures in £s billions from the ONS, 23 Jan 2023]

  • 2016 : £1,187.3 bn
  • 2017 : £1,392.5 bn
  • 2018 : £1,572.8 bn
  • 2019 : £1,640.6 bn
  • 2020 : £1,919.2 bn
  • 2021 : £2,002.4 bn

The former Brexit Minister, the Rt Hon David Jones MP commented

“This important research gives the lie to claims by Rejoiners that the United Kingdom has become increasingly unattractive to overseas investors since Brexit.

“In fact, foreign direct investment into the UK has almost doubled since the 2016 referendum.

“Non-EU countries are scrambling to invest in an increasingly dynamic UK, freed of the burdensome bureaucracy beloved by Brussels.

“The enactment of the Retained EU Law Bill will result in thousands more unnecessary EU regulations consigned to the scrap heap, making the UK more competitive and even more attractive to overseas investors.”

- The Rt Hon David Jones MP, Tues 24 Jan 2023

Brexit Britain is loved by the world… if not by the EU

Crucially, the increase in inward foreign direct investment did not come from the EU27, but from companies in the Americas and non-EU Europe.

The value of inward investment from the EU27 actually fell in 2021.

By region of the world

: Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the UK, 2021

[Source: Latest figures in £s billions from the ONS, 23 Jan 2023]

  • EU27 : £685.1bn (-£20.3 year-on-year)
  • Non-EU Europe & Americas : £1,135.0bn (+£127.0 year-on-year)

Another big Rejoiner myth busted wide open

I have lost track of the number of times I have seen Rejoiners telling the British public that foreign investment into the United Kingdom has dried up since we left the European Union.

In fact, the opposite is the case as the official figures from the ONS show. Not only has inward foreign investment increased, it has broken all records and has now gone over the £2 TRILLION mark for the first time in history.

The increase has come from outside the EU27

As I point out in our headline, it seems that Brexit Britain is LOVED internationally, but not by the EU.

The EU27 invested £20bn less in the UK in 2021 than in 2020. However, this was massively overshadowed by the £127bn increase from non-EU European countries and from the Americas.

In fact, non-EU countries now represent two-thirds of the value of foreign investment in Brexit Britain. The EU27 is becoming less and less relevant. They have dropped five percentage points in the last four years alone.

Here are some of the top investments in Brexit Britain

1. Accel

Head office location: United States
UK equity deals announced: 92

Topping the list of the UK’s most active foreign investors is Accel, a US-based venture capital firm that backs technology businesses across the world. Whilst it’s headquartered in Palo Alto, the firm also has offices in San Francisco, London and Bangalore.

Accel has announced an impressive 92 equity deals with high-growth companies in the UK so far, totalling a massive £3.14b worth of investment. Its portfolio includes leading challenger bank Monzo, digital security firm Snyk, fintech company Zepz (formerly WorldRemit) and online events platform developer Hopin — all UK unicorns (private companies worth $1b or more).

2. Beringea

Head office location: United States
UK equity deals announced: 74

Beringea is a venture capital firm that has offices in Michigan and in London. For the past three decades, Beringea has been working with entrepreneurs to build unicorn companies. Our research indicates that the fund typically invests between £1m and £10m, focusing on the healthcare, cleantech, consumer, media, business services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) sectors.

The fund invests in businesses based in the US and Europe, having backed UK companies such as Learnerbly, DeepStream and Lantum. It has participated in 74 announced equity deals in the UK so far, worth £370m in total.

3. Global Founders Capital

Head office location: Germany
UK equity deals announced: 46

Global Founders Capital (GFC) is a global seed and growth investor, with 18 offices, spread across the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, Israel, the UAE, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Brazil and Mexico. The fund is managed by Rocket Internet, which incubates and invests in tech and internet businesses.

The fund looks for businesses with exceptional management teams, and its portfolio includes high-growth UK companies iwoca, OpenRent, Koru Kids and Uncapped. It has taken part in a total of 46 UK equity rounds so far, totalling £494m in funding.

4. GV

Head office location: United States
UK equity deals announced: 37

Formerly Google Ventures, GV is the corporate venture capital arm of Alphabet (Google’s parent company). It has $8b+ under management, and provides VC funding to businesses in the life sciences, enterprise tech, consumer, and frontier tech sectors. The firm is headquartered in Mountain View, California, but also has offices in San Francisco, New York, Boston and London.

To date, GV has announced its participation in 37 equity deals secured by UK companies, worth an impressive £1.06b in total. These companies include Blockchain.com, Multiverse, GoCardless, and Currencycloud (recently acquired by Visa).

5. Epidarex Capital

Head office location: United States
UK equity deals announced: 36

Foreign investors Epidarex Capital is a transatlantic venture capital firm, headquartered in Maryland but with a second office in Edinburgh, Scotland. The early-stage fund looks to invest in healthtech and life sciences companies in under-ventured regions or research hubs in the US and the UK.

Epidarex Capital has participated in 36 announced equity rounds with UK companies so far, totalling £131m. Its portfolio includes clinical diagnostics company Edinburgh Molecular Imaging (EMI), and pharmaceutical firms Epsilogen, LUNAC Therapeutics and Macomics.

6. Y Combinator

Head office location: United States
UK equity deals announced: 35

Y Combinator is a California-based accelerator programme for tech startups. As part of the programme, Y Combinator provides seed funding and intensive business support to its cohorts. Since 2005, it has backed over 3k startups, with a combined valuation of more than $600b.

To date, Y Combinator has announced 35 equity deals with UK companies, worth £206m in investment. Its portfolio includes businesses operating in a wide range of tech sectors, such as app development software company Stacker, fintech startup LifeFlow, clinical diagnostics company Cambridge Cancer Genomics (acquired by Dante Labs in 2021), and dating platform Muzmatch.

7. Kima Ventures

Head office location: France
UK equity deals announced: 32

The most active French investor in the UK equity market, Kima Ventures, is the private investment vehicle of Xavier Niel (founder of telecoms company Iliad). The fund is sector-agnostic, and looks to invest in around 100 companies per year.

Kima Ventures has backed 32 UK companies via announced equity deals so far, amounting to £59.3m in total funding. Its UK investment portfolio includes Wise, Green Man Gaming, eHealth company Cera, open source software developers QuestDB and Primer, and lawtech firm SeedLegals.

8. Partech

Head office location: France
UK equity deals announced: 30

Also based in France is Partech, a venture fund with over €1b under active management. It invests in promising and disruptive tech businesses in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. The firm is headquartered in Paris, with offices in San Francisco, Berlin and Dakar as well.

Partech has so far announced its participation in 30 UK equity deals, amounting to £470m in funding for UK companies. The international investor’s portfolio includes MADE (which underwent a £100m IPO on the LSE last year), Drover (acquired by Cazoo in 2020), Privitar, and foodtech operator Collective Food.

9. Insight Partners

Head office location: United States
UK equity deals announced: 27

Insight Partners is a US venture capital firm, based in New York City, which looks to invest in scaleup companies in the software sector. It was founded in 1995, and invests globally, with more than $30b in capital commitments.

The fund has announced 27 equity rounds with UK companies so far, totalling £1.96b in scaleup investment. Insight’s UK portfolio includes billion-dollar businesses like Checkout.com, OneTrust, Darktrace (which floated on the LSE in April 2021) and artificial intelligence company Tractable.

10. 500 Startups

Head office location: United States
UK equity deals announced: 26

Based in San Francisco, 500 is a global venture capital firm, with over $2.3b currently under management. The firm also has offices in Seoul, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Toronto, and Riyadh. Alongside providing growth capital to startups, 500 also offers seed accelerators and founder programmes.

500 focuses its investments on fast-growing tech businesses but is geography and sector-agnostic. The fund has participated in 26 announced equity deals with UK companies so far, totalling £52m. Its UK investment portfolio includes Plum, Fidel and (now exited) SimplyCook.

Source: UK Office for National Statistics, 23 Jan 2023

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.