Deeptech/Analysis/ 29 deeptech VCs in Europe you need to know Old, new, university-affiliated or corporate-backed, these are the investors who know how to evaluate and fund deeptech startups. By Maija Palmer 20 February 2020 Samantha Jerusalmy, partner at Elaia. Image credit: Geraldine Aresteanu Samantha Jerusalmy, partner at Elaia. Image credit: Geraldine Aresteanu \Deeptech The AI race is heating up — but Europe is sitting on the bleachers By Sadia Nowshin 23 February 2023 Deeptech/Analysis/ 29 deeptech VCs in Europe you need to know Old, new, university-affiliated or corporate-backed, these are the investors who know how to evaluate and fund deeptech startups. By Maija Palmer 20 February 2020 It is not easy to find investors for a deeptech startup. Science-based companies can take much longer than the typical seven to eight year venture capital investment cycle to produce a return, and not every investor has the background or experience to evaluate these businesses correctly. But there are a growing number of European investors who do know to do this — and there has been a recent influx of new ones on the scene. Corporate venture arms can also often provide patient capital and a handful have established a track record of success. This is our list of the 29 investors that deeptech companies should look at when they start seeking money. This is a peer-nominated list, put together by asking people working in this sector who they come across most frequently and who they value. As always, this is an evolving list, so if there is a great company we have missed, please let us know. There are many flavours to deeptech investing, so we’ve categorised the funds to help you find a perfect fit — whether it is an established name with a string of exits under their belt, or a fresh new arrival with an interesting thesis, a fund that specialises in university spin-outs or one that is good at plugging business-to-business (B2B) startups into corporate networks. Click the names to read the full description of how they operate. Long-established: Accel Partners, AlbionVC, Amadeus Capital Partners, Earlybird Venture Capital, Elaia, Emerald Technology Ventures, IQ Capital, Supernova Invest New arrivals: Ahren Innovation Capital, AV8 Ventures, Crane Venture Partners, Future Positive Capital, Maki.VC Corporate-backed: ABB Technology Ventures, AV8 Ventures, Emerald Technology Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Schneider Electric Ventures, Next47 University-affiliated: AlbionVC, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Elaia, Parkwalk If you want to take your business to the US: Accel Partners, Atlantic Bridge, Frontline Capital If you want a lot of money: Atomico, Next47 Very specialist, lots of handholding: Freigeist, Walerud Focus on central and eastern Europe: Credo Ventures, Earlybird Venture Capital, LAUNCHub Ventures Malin Carlström looks after investments in northern Europe at ABB Technology Ventures. ABB Technology Ventures (ATV) Founded: 2009, first investment in 2010 People: Investment Directors: Kurt Kaltenegger – head of ventures, Thomas Vogel – North America investments, Arvind Vasu – Asia investments, Malin Carlström – Europe investments Size of fund: Since 2010, ATV has invested more than $200m into technology startups. The fund has an evergreen structure with investment coming from the corporate balance sheet. It looks for startups working on the future of cities, buildings and homes; future of transportation; future of industry. What stage do they invest in? From seed to Series C with a preference of Series A and B USP: The venture capital arm of ATV has invested in startups spanning a range of sectors including robotics, drones, industrial internet of things, artificial intelligence/machine learning, cybersecurity, smart buildings, electric mobility and distributed energy. The advantage of working with ATV is that startups get access to ATV’s deep research and development bench, domain expertise, global customer base and channel partners. An evergreen fund structure means there is less pressure to exit quickly. Notable investments: 26 companies, including CMR Surgical, Vicarious, GreenVolts, Kespry, Validus Notable exits: Bonsai, Trilliant, Validus DC Systems, Industrial Defender and Persimmon. Best way to get in touch: Through the website Accel team photo. Accel Founded: 1983, London office established in 2000 Location: London, Bangalore and Palo Alto People: In London, Harry Nelis, Sonali De Rycker, Philippe Botteri, Luciana Lixandru, Seth Pierrepont, Andrei Brasoveanu, Luca Bocchio Size of fund: Accel has raised six funds for Europe and has $3bn under management in Europe. What stage do they invest in? Early-stage, typically Series A USP: Seeks to identify and partner with ambitious founders who have identified an untapped sector and have uncapped ambition. They are industry agnostic, backing originals from the earliest days through all phases of growth. They look for significant technical expertise in the founding team and intellectual property in the product. Their investment philosophy is based on thinking 35 years ahead, and they have a deep chief information officer and technical expert network that helps Accel understand the underlying technology at companies. As they have teams in London, Bangalore and Palo Alto they can offer startups the chance to be connected globally. Notable investments: Celonis, dashdash, Rasa, Humio, Deliveroo, Monzo, Snyk, UiPath Notable exits: Atlassian, KAYAK, QlikTech, Spotify, Supercell Best way to get in touch: Founders can reach out to partners directly via social media or through introductions The Ahren Innovation Capital team Ahren Innovation Capital Founded: 2018 Location: Cambridge, UK People: Nine founding partners: Alice Newcombe-Ellis (founding and managing partner), Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, Professor John Daugman OBE, Professor Zoubin Ghahramani, Professor Steve Jackson, Professor Andy Parker, Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Lord Martin Rees, Sir Gregory Winter Fund size: First fund of $250m raised in June 2019 What stage will they invest in? Seed to late stage. Typically invest up to $10m in an initial investment. Likely to invest in follow-on rounds, with a maximum investment of up to 15% of the fund. USP: Has a philosophy of “patient active” capital, so it will allow longer investment cycles — up to 15 years — but also help companies find markets for their tech. The company has founding science partners with a long track record in both academia and industry. They have created technologies worth $100bn+ between them, and the idea is that they can help young companies do the same. Ahren also has a unique base of limited partners, including unicorn founders and corporations such as Aviva that have the potential to run pilots or provide access to key customers. Notable investments: Seven investments so far including Graphcore, Mogrify (transforms cells from one type to another) Nu Quantum (building quantum hardware) and Cambridge Epigenetix Notable exits: None yet Best way to get in touch: [email protected] and @AhrenLP The AlbionVC team AlbionVC Founded: Albion Capital was founded in 1995 (the tech investment team was named AlbionVC in 2018 to reflect the increasing importance of the tech portfolio and the changed investment focus) People: The tech team is headed by Ed Lascelles and includes Robert Whitby-Smith, Emil Gigov, Jay Wilson, Paul Lehair, Jess Bartos, Nadine Torbay and Cat MacDonald. Size of fund: £540m in seven funds (six evergreen venture capital trusts and the UCL Technology fund) What stage do they invest in? Late seed, Series A and Series B USP: Invests in UK startups focused on business-to-business software and marketplaces. The team has 25 years of experience and takes the approach of building good chemistry with founders. The evergreen venture capital trust structure means that they can take a long term view on investments, holding them for more than 10 years. For example, they held PSE for 12 years before exiting in 2019. Notable investments: 52 companies in the portfolio, including Avora (business intelligence artificial intelligence), Elliptic (fighting financial crime in crypto), Hazy (synthetic data), Imandra (automated reasoning — explainable artificial intelligence), Phasecraft (quantum computing), Speechmatics (speechtech) and Quantexa (data analytics artificial intelligence). Notable exits: Bloomsbury AI (Facebook, 2018, undisclosed return), Grapeshot (Oracle, 2018, 10x cost), PSE (Siemens, 2019, 10x cost) and initial public offering of Orchard Therapeutics (NASDAQ MV:$1.2BN) and Meira GTX (NASDAQ MV: $0.7BN). Best way to get in touch: Will look at emails and social media approaches but prefers warm introductions. The early stage team at Amadeus Capital Partners: Volker Hirsch, Nick Kingsbury, Anne Glover, Hermann Hauser, Alex van Someren, Amelia Armour, Pierre Socha Amadeus Capital Partners Founded: 1997 Location: Cambridge, UK People: Anne Glover (chief executive and cofounder); Hermann Hauser (cofounder and venture partner); Alex van Someren (managing partner – early stage funds); Andrea Traversone (managing partner – digital prosperity funds); Pat Burtis (partner); Nick Kingsbury (partner); Volker Hirsch (venture partner). Size of fund: Has raised 18 funds so far and has $1bn+ in commitments What stage does it invest in? Seed and Series A investments (with follow-ons) mainly in UK technology companies. In Europe and Latin America it tends to invest in Series B. USP: Known for taking early and astute bets on deeptech startups, the portfolio speaks for itself. The firm has three investment strands. For early-stage UK investments it focuses on artificial intelligence; machine learning; autonomous systems; human/computer interfaces; enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS); cyber security; digital health; medical technology and novel materials; quantum technologies. Amadeus also makes opportunistic investments in European companies with proven technology, helping them commercialise, and has a third thesis around digital prosperity in emerging market, investing growth capital in fintech and digital services companies in Latin America and Asia. Notable investments: 150 companies in the portfolio in total, including Graphcore, Prowler.io, PolyAI, Improbable, Immense, FiveAI, Ravelin, ContactEngine, DirectID, BlockClaim, Congenica, Inotech, Healx, Ori Biotech, Paragraf, Riverlane, Nu Quantum; Creditas, Kreditech, Zilingo, Travelstart, Descomplica. Notable exits: ForeScout (partial exit, NASDAQ listing), Igenomix (full exit, acquired), Improbable.io (partial exit to Chinese strategic investor), IndiaMART (partial exit, initial public offering), Iyzico (full exit, acquired by PayU/Naspers), Octo Telematics (full exit, acquired), OneDrum/Yammer (full exit, acquired by Microsoft), Tobii (partial exit, listed on NASDAQ QMX), VocalIQ (full exit, acquired by Apple). Past exits include Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR), Element 14, Entropic, Lastminute.com. Best way to get in touch: Meet the Amadeus team at an event or conference, or get a referral from someone. You can also submit a proposal through the website. Atlantic Bridge Founded: 2004 Location: Dublin, Ireland People: Managing partners: Brian Long, Elaine Coughlan, Kevin Dillon Size of fund: €950 million of assets under management across seven funds USP: Invests in artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, internet of things, cyber security, Industry 4.0, smart edge devices. Partners Brian Long and Elaine Couglan have a very long track record in the industry, going back 30 years. They are a steady pair of hands with a history of successful sales. Notable investments: SambaNova Systems, Quixey, Vectra Networks, 3D Robotics Notable exits: Recently sold Irish chipmaker Decawave to Apple supplier Qorvo for $400m. Best way to get in touch: Apply through the website for a 20-minute call for a member of the team. The Atomico partners. Atomico Founded: 2006 Location: London, UK People: The deeptech partners to talk to are Irina Haivas, Siraj Khaliq (who backed Graphcore) and principal Ben Blume. (In-depth interviews with them here.) Size of fund: Just raised an $820m fund (more details here), bringing total assets under management to $2.7bn. Raised $765m in 2017. What stage does it invest in? Series A onwards USP: Looks for founders that can scale up fast and disrupt industries. Probably not worth calling them about a small business-to-business startup you intend to sell for a modest sum. Everyone knows Atomico and its famous founding partner, Niklas Zennström, the founder of Skype — but there are a lot of sector specialists. Invests in a lot of consumer tech like scooters and fintech providers, but isn’t afraid of taking occasional big bets on unproven tech, having been a relatively early supporter of Lilium Jet and Graphcore. Notable investments: Wolt, Graphcore, Lilium Jet, Healx, Varjo, Spacemaker. Notable exits: Rovio, Supercell, Hailo. Best way to get in touch: Will read all emails but a warm introduction would be better. Miles Kirby, managing partner AV8 Ventures. AV8 Ventures Founded: 2018 Location: London, UK, and Palo Alto, US People: Miles Kirby (managing partner), George Ugras (managing partner), Baris Aksoy (general partner), Serpil Kuyucak-Schiebel (operating partner), Min Hu (investing partner), Victor Christou (venture partner), Brett Battles (venture partner), Ruchita Sinha (venture partner), Shaun Kung (venture partner), Dr Gloria Lau (venture partner), Dr Marco Pavone (venture partner) Size of fund: €150m What stage does it invest in? Seed and Series A USP: Backed by Allianz but invests more as an independent venture fund. The team has a lot of experience working in big tech, including Intel, Google, Qualcomm, IBM and LinkedIn. Invests in startups across sectors that are booming as a result of advances in the power of computer processing, machine learning and new data sources. Specific focus areas are next-generation mobility (including electrification and automation, new ownership models and deeptech solutions), digital healthcare, machine learning and big data, and enterprise software-as-a-service. Notable investments: Alpha Medical, Contract Wrangler, Hometree, Locomotion, M:QUBE, PlanetIQ, Swift Shift, Uizard, Rephrase AI, Embrace + three more in stealth mode Notable exits: None yet Best way to get in touch: Email [email protected] Vin Lingathoti joined the team at Cambridge Innovation Capital in December 2019 with a focus on enterprise software. Cambridge Innovation Capital Founded: 2013 Location: Cambridge, UK People: Andrew Williamson (managing partner), Michael Anstey, Vin Lingathoti, Rob Sprawson, Robert Tansley Size of fund: £275m USP: Focuses on companies in the Cambridge ecosystem, with a deep affiliation with Cambridge University. Interested in earlt stage companies in artificial intelligence, internet of things, quantum technologies, autonomous systems, therapeutics, medtech/diagnostics, digital health and genomics/proteomics. Notable investments: CMR Surgical, Riverlane, Carrick Therapeutics, Fluid Analytics, Prowler.io Notable exits: Bicycle Therapeutics (floated in May 2019) Best way to get in touch: Website or Twitter at @CIC_vc Crane Venture Partners Founded: 2019 Location: London, UK People: Krishna Visvanathan (cofounder), Scott Sage (cofounder), Bonnie Kraus, Rav Dhaliwal, Leo Spiegel, Marta Bulaich Size of fund: $90m What stage does it invest in? Pre-Series A USP: Specialises in investing in software and data companies solving problems for the enterprise. The two founding partners came from DFJ Esprit. Notable investments: H2O.ai, Onfido, Tessian, Cyberhaven Jan Habermann, partner at Credo. Credo Ventures Founded: 2009 Location: Prague, Czech Republic People: Partners: Jan Habermann, Vladislav Jez, Andrej Kiska, Ondrej Bartos Size of fund: €170m What stage does it invest in? Seed and Series-A, €50k — €10m USP: Focuses on central Europe. Notable investments: UIPath, Pricefx, Commsignia, Apiary Earlybird Venture Capital Founded: 1997 Location: Offices in Berlin, Munich, London, Istanbul, Bucharest People: 12 partners. Cem Sertoglu, Christian Nagel, Hendrik Brandis, Roland Manger, Rolf Mathies What stage does in invest in? Seed, Series A and early B rounds. Typical investments are between €500k — €10m USP: Has a climate tech practice and a health fund capable of looking at specialist areas. Recently made its first spacetech investment into Isar Aerospace. The Digital East practice has a good window on the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region. Has offices across Europe, in Berlin, Munich, London, Istanbul, Bucharest. Notable investments: N26, UiPath, Peak Games, Smava, Aiven, GetSafe, Simscale, Bitwala and Isar Aerospace. Notable exits: Seven IPOs and 24 trade sales, including Interhyp, Tipp24, Dailydeal, Wunderlist, Nfon. Best way to get in touch: Drop by the offices in Berlin, Munich, Istanbul or Bucharest, see them at the big tech conferences or give them a call. Samantha Jerusalmy, partner at Elaia. Image credit: Geraldine Aresteanu. Elaia Founded: 2003 Location: Paris, France People: Xavier Lazarus and Philippe Gire (cofounders), Anne-Sophie Carrese, Marc Rougier, Samantha Jerusalmy and Pauline Roux Size of fund: €420m in four funds. Just closed a €76m pre-seed innovation fund. What stage does it invest in? Pre-seed to Series-A USP: Partners have a mix of backgrounds, including banking and engineering, there is a high ratio of partners to portfolio companies. The deeptech fund is one of the oldest in Europe and the firm recently launched a biotech fund. Works with Parisian universities such as Paris Sciences & Lettres and INRIA at an early stage of their research. Most of the dealflow is in France. Notable investments: 126 companies including Shift Technology, Mirakl, Sigfox, Agriconomie, Fretlink, Ornikar Notable exits: 20 exits — Criteo (biggest French exit), Orchestra Networks (acquired by TIBCO), Teads How to get in touch: Contact them through the website and meeting in person. The Emerald Technology Ventures team. Emerald Technology Ventures Founded: 2000 Location: Zurich, Switzerland and Toronto, Canada People: Gina Domanig (managing partner), Christoph Frei, Markus Moor, Hans Dellenbach, Charles Vaslet Size of fund: €200m assets under management. Has closed five funds. What stage do they invest in? Early to expansion (Series A to D). USP: Specialises in industrial technology ventures and has deep links with big corporations. All capital managed by Emerald comes from global industrial corporations, including ABB, Henkel, Caterpillar, Sabic, JSR and Doosan Heavy Industries. Notable investments: 17 active investments, including Future Meat, Spear Power Systems and Urgently Notable exits: Optimatics, SecurityMatters, Ushr, AZZURRO Semiconductors, Xunlight Best way to get in touch: Email [email protected] Force Over Mass Founded: 2013 Location: London, UK People: Martijn de Wever (chief executive), Wouter Volckaert (chief investment officer) Filip Coen (chief operating officer) USP: Not solely deeptech but does invest in science-based companies. Has created a transparent investment portal that gives investors sight of how the portfolio is doing at any given time. Notable investments: Velocity, What3Words, SenSat, Huckletree Best way to get in touch: Email [email protected] The Freigeist team. Freigeist Capital Founded: 2010 Location: Bonn, Germany Partners: Frank Thelen, Marc Sieberger, Alex Koch, Marcel Vogler, Niklas Hebborn Size of fund: €100m+. Has raised four funds. What stage do they invest in? Seed USP: Looking for outstanding founders developing disruptive technologies, especially in artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum technologies. The team are all serial founders who became investors, and so they behave more like cofounders than simply financiers. Despite a relatively large team of 13 they will only make one or two investments a year, so each portfolio company gets a lot of attention. Will allow a 10+ year time-horizon for getting a return on investment. Notable investments: Lilium, Kraftblock, Neufund, Smartlane, air up, Hardt Hyperloop, Pitch, Xentral, Scanbot Notable exits: MyTaxi (acquired by Daimler), Wunderlist (acquired by Microsoft), KaufDa (acquired by Axel Springer) Best way to get in touch: Through the website Frontline Capital Founded: 2012 Location: Dublin, Ireland People: Shay Garvey (founding partner), Will Prendergast (founding partner), William McQuillan, Stephen McIntyre, Steve Collins Size of fund: €110m in two funds What stage do they invest in? Seed-stage business-to-business startups pre-product, pre-seed and seed USP: Specialises in expanding their portfolio companies to the US. 55% of their portfolio companies have offices in the US and US investors. Pride themselves in getting founders ahead of the curve, for example they claim to be the first fund in Europe to hire for platform, a role that is about helping founders learn faster from peer and mentoring networks. Most of their capital is from pension funds, sovereign wealth, and large family offices who are willing to take a long term view (although still not usually longer than 10-12 years). Notable investments: Pollen, SignalAI, Verve Notable exits: Pointy (acquired by Google) and Logentries (Acquired by Rapid7) Best way to get in touch: Warm, qualified introductions are preferred but you can get in touch through their website. Sofia Hmich, partner at Future Positive Capital. Future Positive Capital Founded: 2019 Location: Paris, France People: Sofia Hmich, Alexandre Terrien and Michael Rosen What stage does it invest in? Seed and Series A, with a strong capacity to follow-on at Series B €300,000 and ~€5m USP: Targets blind spots in existing European venture capital funding, looking tech that will not just solve “first world problems” but global problems like climate change. Notable investments: Meatable, a Dutch company that is developing in-vitro, lab-grown clean meat from stem cells, and BioBeats, an Oxford-based company that built the world’s first unified computational model for wellbeing. Cervest, a London-based startup applying AI to climate data. Notable exits: None yet Best way to get in touch: Attend one of their events and or reach out directly. HTGF Founded: 2005 Location: Bonn, Germany People: Alex von Frankenberg (managing director) Size of fund: €900m in three funds What stage does it invest in? Seed USP: Was started specifically to fill a gap in seed-stage finance in Germany. Has so far funded some 600 companies, of which around 100 have been sold. Backed by the Ministry of Economics and Technology and a large number of German corporations. Notable investments: Bitwala, SimScale, Fazua, VMRay Partners at IQ Capital. IQ Capital Founded: 2003 Location: Cambridge, UK People: Partners: Max Bautin, Kerry Baldwin, Ed Stacey Size of fund: £325m in discretionary funds What stage does it invest in? Seed and Series A. Initial investments range from £300k to £5m, with capacity for follow-on investment up to £30m. USP: Looking for early-stage startups in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science and disruptive algorithms. Invests in businesses which use hard-to-replicate technology to address massive global markets, with founder teams highly motivated and capable of following the path. IQ Capital has been investing solely in seed and early stage deep-tech for 15 years, so they understand tech and how to support tech-led founder teams. Notable investments: Privitar, Fluid Analytics, Divido, Thought Machine Notable exits: Over 20 exits to date, recent notable ones include Grapeshot and Bloomsbury AI Best way to get in touch: [email protected] Launchub Ventures Founded: 2012 Location:< Related Articles Atomico: Who’s who at Europe’s biggest VC firm? By Amy Lewin Click here to read more Accel: Is being big enough anymore? By Amy Lewin Click here to read more Europe’s VCs finally leap into quantum By Maija Palmer Click here to read more Most Read 1 \Healthtech Is Daniel Ek’s new body scanner worth the hype? Sifted tried it out 2 \Venture Capital VC diversity needs to change — and white men need to take responsibility 3 \Venture Capital New €3.75bn European Investment Fund pot to back late-stage VCs 4 \Sustainability Counteract closes £15m fund for carbon removal solutions 5 \Mobility Was the $5bn that VCs plugged into escooters worth it?