Fundraising by European startups has skyrocketed this year, dominated by megarounds and rising valuations.
“Europe is making up for lost time,” said Tom Wehmeier, partner and head of insights at London venture firm Atomico. For decades European startups lagged behind their international counterparts in ambition and capital, Mr. Wehmeier said. That proved “expensive when you look at Europe’s share of global market cap creation. But things are changing very quickly,” he said.
In total, venture-backed startups in Europe, including the U.K. and Israel, raised $49.6 billion through June 11, closing in on the $51.7 billion funneled into the market in all of 2020, according to research firm PitchBook Data Inc. Almost a quarter of this year’s haul went to just a dozen startups that raised more than $500 million each, according to PitchBook. There were six such rounds last year.
The largest-ever financing for a European venture company took place in 2021, according to PitchBook, with a $2.75 billion round for Stockholm-based battery startup Northvolt AB. Other megarounds this year included $1 billion raised by Stockholm-based payments startup Klarna Bank AB in March at a $31 billion valuation, which went up to $45.6 billion in a subsequent round. Celonis, a business software maker based in Munich and New York, raised $1 billion at a valuation of more than $11 billion.
The venture market in Europe is following the U.S. trend of more capital being amassed by fewer companies. The large market capitalizations of European companies that have recently gone public, such as automation software provider UiPath Inc., founded in Bucharest, and music-streaming service Spotify Technology SA, started in Stockholm—recently valued at roughly $36 billion and $48 billion, respectively—are giving more confidence to venture firms who are driving the late-stage startup market, investors say. European startups are also benefiting from the rise of remote deals during the pandemic, making capital from the U.S., which has larger funds and a more risk-on mentality, more accessible.