Europe’s unicorn herd multiplies as venture capital investment more than doubles in 2021 – Crunchbase News

Funding for European startups has shown unprecedented growth in 2021, according to figures from Crunchbase, with $ 116 billion invested. That’s a 159% increase from the $ 45 billion invested in 2020.

Consider that ten years ago less than $ 8 billion was invested in European startups. In 2012, venture capital funding on the continent accounted for 13% of all global funding; in 2021, that figure was 18%.

In Europe, $ 40 billion, or one-third, of all venture capital funds last year went to start-ups and start-ups. This is not much less than the total funding raised for each year in 2020 and 2019.

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Two-thirds, or $ 76 billion, of last year’s funding was invested at an advanced stage, up more than 230% year-on-year, according to data from Crunchbase.

Last year 84 new unicorn startups from Europe joined the unicorn crunchbase board, compared to 11 in 2020. The board currently has 150 European private unicorn companies.


The case counts

In 2021, a greater number of European startups raised funds at an early and late stage compared to 2020.

Almost 600 companies in Europe have raised Series C or greater funds. More than 1,600 companies have raised early stage funds and more than 4,700 companies have raised early stage funds, according to figures from Crunchbase. 1

Volume of European corporate transactions until 2021

Advanced stage and technological growth

Growth stage investors have increased their appetites for European startups with more investors leading or co-leading $ 1 billion and above rounds in 2021 compared to previous years. Funding for advanced stages and technological growth increased by more than 200% year-on-year to $ 76 billion, from $ 23 billion in 2020.

The proportion of late stage funding has also increased from 51% of funding in 2020 to 66% in 2021, match global trends.

Technological growth and advanced stage investment in Europe from Q4 2020 to Q4 2021

Start-up funding

European seed funding in 2021 totaled $ 31.4 billion, up from $ 17.1 billion in 2020, representing 84% year-over-year growth.

In 2021, 46 companies raised Series A or B funding rounds at $ 100 million or more, according to data from Crunchbase. In 2020, 13 companies raised these high amounts.

European start-up investment until Q4 2020 through Q4 2021


The seed ecosystem grew in 2021 by 74% from the previous year, with $ 8.4 billion invested. The fourth quarter topped all previous quarters with $ 2.8 billion raised in more than 1,000 rounds of funding.

European seed and angel investment from Q4 2020 to Q4 2021

Leading countries

Among the top six countries in Europe, Germany and the Netherlands each grew by more than 200% year-on-year and Spain by more than 400%. Along with the growth in funding, a larger share has been invested outside the main UK markets.

Main European countries, by volume of venture capital, 2018 to 2021

The unicorn herd is growing

the Unicorn Crunchbase Board now houses 150 European private unicorn companies, with more than half of them (84) joining in the past year alone.

They include:

  • e-commerce company Tendency and delivery service Getir from Turkey;
  • Crypto exchange platform, connection to the bank data service TrueLayer and peer-to-peer lending platform Zopa from Great Britain;
  • Broker without commission Commercial republic, grocery delivery company Gorillas, and content delivery platform happy of Germany;
  • Electric scooter company See from Sweden;
  • Recruitment market for concerts Work and Talent and online real estate platform idealistic from Spain;
  • Global Fantasy Football Company So rare and blockchain security company register of France;
  • Crypto exchange Bitpanda from Austria; and
  • Blockchain developer Consensys from Switzerland.

The Crunchbase Unicorn Board is currently home to five European companies valued at over $ 10 billion, an unprecedented number. Across Europe, 17 countries raised more than $ 1 billion in funds in 2021, up from eight in 2020.

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Europe is maturing

Among the world’s most funded startups in financial services in 2021, five of them came from Europe. They include the Stockholm-based buy now, pay later platform Klarna, London-based mobile banking platform Revolution, payment integrator based in Amsterdam Mollie and mobile banking based in Berlin N26 and broker without commission Commercial republic.

The European ecosystem is maturing and demonstrating trends similar to those observed in the North American market since 2018, with increased funding at all stages and an increase in late-stage funding from global growth equity investors.

Silicon Valley companies are also actively establishing themselves in Europe itself, as large European companies no longer see the need to cross the pond to be successful.

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Further reading


The data in this report comes directly from Crunchbase and is based on reported data. The reported data is from January 9, 2022.

Note that data lags are more pronounced in the early stages of business activity, with seed funding amounts increasing dramatically after the end of a quarter / year.

The most recent quarter / year will increase over time compared to previous quarters. For the financing count, we notice a significant lag in the data, in particular at the seed and start-up stages, ranging up to 30 to 40% per year.

Please note that all finance values ​​are shown in US dollars unless otherwise noted. Crunchbase converts foreign currencies to US dollars at the spot rate in effect from the date on which funding rounds, acquisitions, IPOs and other financial events are reported. Even though these events were added to Crunchbase long after the event was announced, foreign currency transactions are converted at the historical spot price.

For the analysis of M&A transactions, we include companies funded by venture capital and exclude companies that have previously gone public.

Glossary of financing terms

Seed and Angel consists of seed, pre-seed, and angel towers. Crunchbase also includes unknown series venture capital rounds, equity crowdfunding, and convertible notes at $ 3 million (USD or converted US dollar equivalent) or less.

The early stage includes rounds of series A and B, as well as other types of rounds. Crunchbase includes VC rounds of unknown series, venture capital and other rounds greater than $ 3 million, and those less than or equal to $ 15 million.

The advanced stage includes Series C, D, E and subsequent letter venture capital rounds following the ‘Series [Letter]” naming convention. Also included are venture capital rounds of unknown series, business ventures and other rounds over $ 15 million.

Technological growth is a round of private equity investment raised by a company that has already raised a “venture” round. (So ​​basically any round of the previously defined steps.)

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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Mary I. Bruner