(Editor’s note: This post about startups across Europe raising capital is part of our Tech Tuesdays series. We cover tech because so many of our highly skilled internationals are engineers and entrepreneurs.)
The “experts” forecasted that Europe would go into a recession in Q1 this year. Which of course would be now. Yet business is booming. How do we know? Because we’re getting more and more news releases and pitches about startups and scale-ups getting funding and/or expanding operations.
We will say investor focus has shifted away from things like crypto and blockchain to innovations people actually need, including deep-tech such as robotics and quantum computing, as well as energy startups and, as always, enterprise software.
Last year was a good year. Europe recorded 47 new unicorn companies, the second highest figure on record, according to PitchBook. Of course, that’s a rounding error in The Valley, Austin and New York. But 2023 already is emerging as The Year of the French Startup. Funding in France increased about 20 percent last year while decreasing for the first time in the United Kingdom.
Clearly, there’s more going on in Europe than even a few years ago despite a war, Brexit and other challenges. And by the way, Europe leads the rest of the world in quantum computing, according to McKinsey.
Here’s our round-up of interesting deals, big and small.
ARM founder invests in planqc
Amadeus APEX – a new deep-tech fund formed as a partnership between Vienna-based APEX Ventures and Amadeus Capital Partners – is making a “seven-figure investment” in planqc, a quantum computing startup based in Munich.
Of course, quantum computing – based on quantum entanglement, the concept that qubits exist in more than one state simultaneously – is in the earliest stages of development. Planqc is attempting to develop a more cost-effective and scaleable technology than IBM and Google.
Planqc is building a computer using “neutral atom” technology — which uses lasers to trap and stabilise single atoms so they can be used as stores of quantum information known as qubits, the quantum equivalent of a bit in classical computing.
Okay, all this is insanely complicated and abstract. But creating an integrated circuit on a piece of silicon that contained millions of transistors must have seemed incomprehensible before Robert Noyce did it at Fairchild back in 1959. Instead of electrons, planqc is storing information on atoms. Just going through their website is mind-blowing.
Hermann Hauser, one of the pioneers of the European semiconductor industry and founder of British chipmaker ARM, is the managing partner of Amadeus Capital parters and will take a board seat at planqc, according to Sifted.
PASQAL raises 100 million euros
Paris-based PASQAL has just raised 100 million euros as the French flagship in the quantum computing space.
Like planqc above, PASQAL is based on neutral atoms quantum computing, with mega-backing from the European Innovation Fund, defense agencies. Singapore-based VC Temasek is the lead investor. PASQAL also represents a big step forward in that its quantum processing units – unlike previous approaches – work at room temperature, not absolute zero.
Alain Aspect, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on quantum entanglement in 2022, is one of PASQAL’s co-founders, according to TechCruch. So, yeah, this shit’s gettin’ real.
Kyiv-based Deus Robotics, a Ukrainian startup specializing in warehouse robotics engineering and software development, just announced a new $1.5 million seed round from SMRK VC, a Ukrainian venture fund. Deus’s valuation is $15 million, according to a company spokesperson.
The investment will be used for business development in the United States and Europe and expanding its line of robotic warehouse solutions, according to a news release.
Deus Robotics specializes in hardware engineering, software development and integration, focusing on automating warehouse and logistics operations. Its robots can perform various tasks such as sorting by direction and moving shelves, which are used in pre-sorting tasks, consolidation and order picking, according to the release
“Deus Robotics is at the forefront of revolutionizing the warehouse industry with innovative solutions that improve the efficiency of logistics operations,” statqed Pavlo Pikulin, the CEO of Deus Robotics.
Prior to the investment, Deus Robotics successfully completed one of its biggest pilot projects, producing more than 40 robots for parcel sorting and rack transportation for Ukraine’s largest private postal operator, Nova Poshta. The pilot project was planned to launch in a Nova Poshta office in Bila Tserkva, near the capital of Kyiv. However, the Russian invasion disrupted the plans, and the company temporarily evacuated its equipment and team to Mukachevo, in the Western region of Zakarpattia, working through blackouts and power outages.
Deus Robots returned to Kyiv in May after the Ukrainian military pushed the Russians out of the capital. Deus Robots finalized the software and completed the Nova Poshta integration in Bila Tserkva.
With this new round of funding, Deus Robotics plans to dedicate more resources to customers needing specialized integrations and to invest in R&D capabilities. During the next stage Deus Robotics plans to scale manufacturing and is opening a sales office in the U.S.
The logistics robotics market is worth $7.5 billion and is expected to grow 40 times by 2024.
“Deus Robotics’ ability to adapt and thrive in difficult circumstances is a proof of the company’s strong leadership and innovative technology,” said Vlad Tislenko, partner at SMRK VC.
Deus Robotics was founded in 2018.
London-based Finmap, a cash flow management service for businesses, closed a new 1 million pound funding round.
Finmap’s core product is a cloud service and iOS application that helps business owners keep track of their company’s cash flow and personal finances. More than 2,500 businesses use Finmap for daily financial management, according to a media release.
The funding will be used for marketing and localization of the service in the countries of expansion – Poland and Turkey, strengthening the presence in English and Spanish-speaking countries and expanding the team.
The lead investor is SMOK Ventures, a U.S.-Polish venture capital fund that was founded with the participation of investor Paul Bragiel. Its portfolio includes more than 400 companies, including unicorns UBER, Stripe, Niantic, Unity, and Zappos. This is the fund’s first investment in a Ukrainian project.
The investment fund Presto Ventures, the investment company Capital Genetics and the CEO of tbi bank Petr Baron also joined the investment.
The investment comes at a crucial time for Finmap. In April 2022, Ivan Kaunov, the company’s co-founder, was mobilized into the Ukrainian military as a reserve officer. He continues to be an entrepreneur in civilian life while serving.
Copenhagen-based startup Woomio has collected 4.6 million euros in a Series A round from the Finnish Vendep Capital and its existing investor Vækstfonden, the Danish governmental foundation. The startup helps marketers and agencies optimize influencer marketing by providing the tools necessary to discover influencers, predict campaigns and measure ROI.
The funding will enable the startup to proceed with the development of its software.
Clausematch launches Portugal office
London-based Clausematch, a global regulatory compliance technology company, has launched a new office in Lisbon, its first office there and third branch worldwide. A team of nine employees specializes in engineering and product development. Additional employees plan to join the Lisbon team in the coming months, according to a media release.
Launching an office in Portugal is part of Clausematch’s overall strategy to position itself as the world’s leading solution for policy management and compliance automation, stated CEO and founder Evgeny Likhoded in the release. “Lisbon will provide a unique outlet for our engineering team, as it is quickly becoming an established tech outlet in Western Europe.”
Clausematch spent 2022 establishing an engineering hub in Portugal, which has made significant strides as a tech and innovation hub. Government officials have implemented a number of initiatives aimed at supporting the tech sector and attracting foreign investment, including tax incentives for startups and tech companies and investment in research and development. Additionally, there has been a focus on developing the tech talent pipeline through initiatives in Portugal, such as education programs and job training initiatives.
Founded in 2012, Clausematch doubled its annual revenue and increased its headcount from to 71 employees from 50. There are more than 20 different languages spoken and more than a dozen nationalities represented in the workforce.
In 2022, Clausematch raised $10.8 million funding from Sony Innovation Fund, Lytical Ventures and Flashpoint VC. The capital helped expand product development, commercial and operational teams, as well as boost investment in its growing North American team.
• Dronamics, a London-based startup that makes autonomous cargo drones, has landed $40 million in pre-Series A capital from investors, including Founders Factory and Speedinvest.
• French indoor agriculture startup Futura Gaïa has just secured 11 million euros in funding to reach industrial scale.
Read more about Europe’s startup scene here in Dispatches’ archives.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.