Investments in European start-ups rose to record levels during the final three months of 2020. In the fourth quarter of last year, a total of US$14.3 billion was invested in European start-ups. This was revealed in a report brought out by KPMG.

Seventy percent growth

This figure corresponds to an increase of seventy per cent compared to the last three months of 2019. It also marks the highest quarterly increase in 2020, although the other three have also fared extremely well. Total investment in European start-ups reached US$49 billion last year, that was US$7 billion less in 2019.

However, emerging start-ups and even companies that are already generating a certain amount of turnover are struggling to raise funding.”
Karina Kuperus, KPMG

The figures highlight a number of developments. While investments were up, the number of deals made fell sharply, from around 7,500 in 2019 to just over 6,000 in 2020. “Investors have focused on technology-driven solutions and on start-ups that are highly capable of responding to the changing needs of employees and customers. This means that early-stage start-ups and even companies that are already generating some revenue experience great difficulties in securing funding,” says Karina Kuperus, a partner in KPMG’s Emerging Giants advisory group.

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    Late-stage start-ups are most in demand

    Financiers have been particularly interested in late-stage start-ups that have a proven business model. In a number of sectors, including fintech, logistics technology and educational technology, this has led to consistently higher valuations. In general, technology, healthcare and biotechnology are popular with investors.

    There is no shortage of funds. Due to the availability of a lot of ‘unused money’ among investors ( as a result of low interest rates, among other factors), there is a lot of competition. Although this is mainly concentrated on promising start-ups in their later stages. For example, during the last three months of 2020, a number of companies managed to attract more than US$100 million, including Germany’s ATAI Life Sciences (US$125 million).

    Investments are also set to increase in 2021

    Globally, there has also been an appetite for funding start-ups. KPMG tallies a total of US$300 billion that has been invested in start-ups around the world. That is US$18 billion more than in 2019. The tendency towards a decline in the number of deals also applies beyond Europe’s borders. By the way, the United States accounted for more than half of all global investments last year.

    The volume of investments is unlikely to drop in 2021. “The pandemic has also revealed the pressing need to modernise key aspects of the existing healthcare system and to harness new technologies, such as artificial intelligence in the development of new medicines,” Kuperus stated.

    More information can be found in the latest version of Venture Pulse, KPMG’s report on their research into global investments in start-ups. 

    Atomico, another European tech investment company, also recently came to a similar conclusion.

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Ewout Kieckens is a Dutch journalist in Rome who writes about Italian lifestyle and culture. He has written books on diverse subjects such as the Vatican and Italian design. He is very interested in innovations, especially Italian contributions to progress.