Venture capital funding in Europe hit its highest level since 2007 last year, with the continent continuing to attract high profile investors from across the world.
Nearly 10 percent of this capital was from North American institutional investors, according to research by Invest Europe, as Europe’s growing economies, thriving investment ecosystem and the unprecedented rise of its tech industry make it an attractive investment destination.
Europe represents the world’s largest single market, with GDP growth of 1.8 percent at the end of last year according to the European Commission. All economies are seeing growth, boosted by the corporate sector, increasing investments and job creation. Invest Europe’s data shows VC fund sizes are rising, with 13 funds raising in excess of €100 million last year. This is set to be boosted further this year thanks to a new €400 million European Union-backed fund-of-funds to facilitate more investment from large institutional investors.
“Global investors are recognising that European venture capital offers a rich A to Z of investment opportunities: trailblazing tech innovation born in cities from Amsterdam to Zurich,” said Nenad Marovac, Invest Europe Vice-Chair and Founder, Managing Partner of VC firm DN Capital.
“Anyone who has ever played Angry Birds or searched for flights via Skyscanner is benefiting from Europe’s highly talented entrepreneurs — not to mention the fintech and life sciences start-ups leading the way in their sectors. Backed by Europe’s experienced VC fund managers, these companies can rival the best in the world for returns to investors.”
Of the €4.3 billion total venture capital investment in Europe last year, fund managers invested 44 percent into companies specialising in information and communications technology. The second highest amount, 27 percent, went to biotech and healthcare. Businesses in this sector have a strong track record in Europe, such as Switzerland’s Actelion and Denmark’s Genab with their marketed cardiovascular and cancer products.
“With lower company valuations in Europe than in the US and Asia, European venture funds are expected to attract increasing capital over the next five to ten years, so now is the time for global investors to harness the best opportunities on offer,” said Marovac.
Venture capital-backed companies created in Europe include the Swedish music service Spotify, the UK’s travel comparison site Skyscanner, Denmark’s customer service software maker ZenDesk, Germany’s online sales platform Auto 1 Group, France’s car sharing service Bla Bla Car and Finland’s gaming pioneers Rovio, King and SuperCell.