Germany has unveiled a new €1bn fund for deeptech and climate tech growth-stage companies, dubbed the DeepTech & Climate Fonds (DTCF), to boost startups in Europe’s largest economy.
It’s the newest big commitment to innovation from a European state as the region’s policymakers pay closer attention to technological sovereignty and the strategic value of scaleups.
The DTCF will invest in deeptech sectors such as Industry 4.0, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and process automation and in companies with a technology-based business model such as digital health, new energy, smart cities, new materials and selected biotech areas. So far, the fund has made one investment which is about to close, according to a press release from the Federal Ministry of Economy and Climate Protection.
The launch of the fund comes just weeks after France announced plans to pump another €500m into deeptech startups, alongside a string of other programmes to promote the country’s agritech, healthtech and climate tech sectors.
Germany has made some moves in recent years to support startups. In July last year, Germany pledged to mobilise €30bn of additional funding by 2030 to foster the startup scene and laid out its first comprehensive roadmap for startups — though there's been little progress since then.
The funds for the DTCF come from the federal government’s €10bn Future Fund, which was launched in December 2020, and the European Recovery Program (ERP).
It’s significant that the DTCF is focusing on growth-stage companies.
Tech advocates have bemoaned the lack of homegrown deeptech giants in Europe versus the US and China. When European deeptech companies look to raise capital beyond Series B, they often have to tap non-European investors given the dearth of growth-stage funding in Europe. That creates the risk that they relocate — and means Europe benefits less from their success.
It remains to be seen what Germany’s founders think of the measures. In November, founders of some of the country’s most valuable unicorns clubbed together to write an open letter to the German government, calling for more growth capital, faster visa procedures for foreign talent and a reform of the pension scheme as necessary measures to ensure Germany remains competitive as a startup capital.