It has been a difficult year for European start-ups – and technology-focused start-ups in particular. The turbulent economic and geo-political backdrop has seen investors become increasingly nervous. Funding for European tech start-ups is far harder to come by in this environment – the venture capital firm Atomico predicts investment in the region will be around 38% lower in 2023 than in the previous year. That would see the amount of cash going into early-stage businesses fall from $83 billion to $51 billion. Growth will inevitably be slower with the finance tap turned off.
However, it’s not all bad news. Many of Europe’s more established early-stage tech companies continue to go from strength to strength, demonstrating remarkable resilience despite the challenging backdrop. Indeed, Creandum, the Stockholm-headquartered investor, reckons Europe is now home to more than 500 unicorn businesses – start-ups that have secured a valuation of $1 billion or more. Here are five that have joined those ranks in recent months:
Headquartered in Belgium, Kpler has caused a stir in the commodities sector over the nine years since its launch, growing rapidly with organic expansion and through regular M&A. The business’s data-driven analytics platform helps clients understand the intricacies of global trade, aggregating, standardising and analysing data from a multitude of sources in order to generate insight on a range of commodity markets worldwide. Kpler’s innovative approach has earned it a unicorn valuation, as well as underpinning its position as a leader in energy intelligence.
Based in the UK, Oyster thinks technology has the power to transform the way that companies manage human resources management through technology, particularly as they expand into new markets globally. Oyster’s platform offers a range of HR solutions, aimed at companies looking to hire, pay and care for employees in different parts of the world. Only founded in 2019, the company has grown remarkably quickly – it also practises what it preaches, with team members in more than 60 countries.
Germany’s DeepL was launched in 2017 and operates in a market where some of the world’s largest technology companies are also present. However, the start-up’s artificial intelligence-powered translation services are more than holding their own against those on offer from the giants of tech. Through its use of AI, the company says it is able to offer far more accurate transactions that capture the nuances of language; it has already signed up more than 500,000 customers.
Synthesia is a London-based company with ambitions to change the landscape of video content creation through the use of AI. The company’s technology platform enables users to generate highly realistic and customisable videos at scale – users simply provide the text and Synthesia turns it into video using AI avatars that look and sound natural. With AI-powered content creation growing rapidly, particularly as the adoption of generative AI accelerates, there is real excitement about the company’s prospects.
Paris-based EcoVadis helps its clients improve the sustainability of their global supply chains, providing a comprehensive database of the corporate social responsibility and environmental credentials of companies worldwide. As businesses look to contract with suppliers, they can turn to EcoVadis’s data – now covering 500,000 companies globally and constantly updated – to vet their performance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) characteristics. This also helps with reporting and disclosure, a key challenge as ESG regulation proliferates.