AI startup crowned UK’s best new business in Startups 100

The 2024 ranking of the UK's most disruptive new businesses names its first ever AI winner with Unitary, a tech firm that detects harmful content online at massive scale.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Startups.co.uk has kicked off the New Year with the reveal of its 2024 Startups 100 Index. This year Unitary, an artificial intelligence (AI) business that conducts content moderation at extraordinary scale, takes the coveted top spot.

The win is a historic moment for the index, now in its 16th year, which celebrates the UK’s most disruptive businesses founded in the past five years. Unitary’s triumph marks AI's arrival at the forefront of impactful innovation, underscoring its ability to confront modern challenges like online misinformation, hate speech, and abuse.

But, Unitary is just the first glimpse of the groundbreaking ideas bubbling within the Startups 100. The full list exhibits bold inventions aimed at tackling today’s pressing global issues, from workplace change to climate action.

Despite a turbulent funding landscape in 2023, these remarkable startups have collectively secured £186m, proving their long-term potential to positively transform lives.

Richard Parris, Editor of Startups.co.uk, comments: “The ingenuity and innovation of the brands featuring in our annual Startups 100 index never ceases to amaze, and this year is no exception. Our highest ranking business, Unitary, is truly a brand of the future, and we’re excited to crown it as our top UK startup for 2024.”

Top five UK startups for 2024

Startups.co.uk has compiled its annual list of the 100 fastest-growth UK startups for 2024, based on factors such as market potential and secured funding. Here is a glimpse of the top five:

  1. Unitary – AI safeguarding tool filtering out harmful content that’s unfit for human eyes
  2. Lottie – Care home marketplace making it easy to find specialist care for loved ones
  3. Maeving – Britain's first EV motorcycle that can recharge as easily as a smartphone
  4. KatKin – Premium cat food company making the world’s first diagnostic kitty litter
  5. Peppy – Digital platform supporting staff with under-resourced health challenges

For more, see the full 2024 Startups 100 

Startups also awards seven special categories each year to recognise startups demonstrating exceptional innovation alongside social responsibility.

The judging panel for 2024 included distinguished figures in the entrepreneurial landscape:  Finn Lagun, Karen Lynch, Danielle Bowman, Eloise Skinner, Ian Wallis, and Chris Forbes.

Click to read more about the nominees and winners:

“Shared mood of opportunity”

Buoyed by a lower inflation rate and technological advancements like AI, this year’s Startups 100 are preparing for a prosperous 2024.

To complement the release of this year’s index, Startups.co.uk also carried out a survey of 546 UK small businesses. We found that 92% of respondents feel optimistic about their growth prospects for 2024, with 59% reporting high levels of optimism.

Testifying to the resilience and ingenuity of UK startups, newer businesses feel the most positive about the future. 74% of those founded in the past year are optimistic about 2024, versus just 47% of companies that launched in 2019.

Parris concludes: “Despite the crises of the past couple of years, we’ve seen some incredible businesses from every corner of the UK in our rankings. There’s a shared mood of opportunity and an optimism for the year ahead that’s invigorating to see as we begin 2024.”

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.
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