Britain is creating more technology companies worth at least $1bn (£786m) than any other country in Europe, according to government research.

According to the research, UK-based entrepreneurs have built 72 such businesses in the past 20 years, including 13 in the past year alone, a figure surpassed only by the US and China. By contrast Germany created 29 and India 26.

Over a third of Europe’s fastest-growing tech companies are said to be based in Britain, according to the study for the government-led Digital Economy Council - members include techUK, Google, Facebook, BT and Apple. The report found that over the same period, the US and China had created 703 and 206 tech firm respectively.

The study comes as global tech companies promised to invest more than £1.2bn in the UK on the first day of Tech Week.

Opening the event the Prime Minister, Theresa May, said that while the UK was one of the best places in the world to start a tech business, "Our challenge is how we develop British Tech and make it even better."

The Prime Minister made a number of ambitious commitments that are intended to ensure the UK remains the largest tech hub in Europe.

  • She announced £153million government funding, with an additional £205million pledged by industry, to unlock the potential of quantum technologies, including accelerated drug development from quantum computing.
  • Announced 2,500 places for the first time for AI and data conversion courses starting next year, to equip tech-driven businesses and people across the country with the skills they need. This includes 1,000 government-funded scholarships to open up opportunities for people from all backgrounds.
  • And launched a study into tech competitiveness to identify opportunities and support for digital businesses to ensure the UK remains the most attractive place to build a tech business and which will be led by industry stalwarts: Cindy Rose from Microsoft UK, Suzanne Ashman from LocalGlobe, Stephen Coleman from CodeBase, and Avid Larizadeh Duggan from Kobalt.

In response Cindy Rose CEO, Microsoft UK, said: “The UK has a long history of world leading technological innovation and is ideally placed to capitalise on the AI opportunity for economic growth. We have all the elements we need to succeed, a thriving start-up scene, a vibrant investment community, cloud-first government policy and a great pool of UK and global talent.”

Bill Kelleher, Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland added: “London is a major hub for innovation and creativity. New technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Cloud and Quantum are creating powerful opportunities “

British tech is currently growing over one-and-a-half times faster than the rest of the economy, and is currently adding more than £130bn to the economy each year..