European growth exceeds ambitions

A record $100bn of capital was invested in Europe in 2021, creating the region’s strongest ever startup pipeline now on equal footing with the United States.

That was the conclusion of the annual State of European Tech 2021 report released by Atomico, which analyses the performance of startups and investments in the continent.

Despite a troubling 2020, optimism abounded in 2021. The report found the last 12 months have seen record growth in Europe’s tech scene, producing more unicorns, megarounds and companies raising more funds at a faster pace. The total value of the ecosystem crossed $3tn, solidifying its position as a global tech power.

The Netherlands sits in the top five country hubs by capital invested, highlighting its dominance on the European startup scene. The country is home to 20 unicorns - that’s companies valued at more than $1bn - putting the nation in fifth place in Europe. And, the Netherlands is ranked the eighth most entrepreneurial country, based on the number of startups per capita.

Amsterdam remains a prominent tech hub

Amsterdam is the fifth biggest European hub by capital invested, attracting $3.6bn in the first nine months of 2021, compared to $893m for the whole of 2020. Two Amsterdam-founded companies - MessageBird and Mollie - raised among the largest deals of all European tech companies in 2021, with $800m a piece.

Meanwhile, payment services platform Adyen is on track to be the first European tech company founded post-2000 to hit the $100bn mark, known as hectocorn status, with its valuation reaching a high of $99bn as of November 2021. 

Impact-driven startups and attracting talent 

Looking ahead, companies described as Planet Positive and Deep Tech companies are raising more funds than ever.

There is room for improvement where diversity is concerned. Europe-wide, more needs to be done to close the gender funding gap. Research found founding teams of men received around 90% of capital compared to founding teams of women or a mix of genders, around 10%, a ratio that has stayed stagnant for five years.

Tech talent is also an area for attention. In addition to the UK, the Netherlands is the only other country where more founders believed the depth of the talent pool has worsened (36%) than those thinking it has improved (32%).

With one of the most advanced digital infrastructures in Europe, an English-speaking workforce and highly ranked quality of life, it is no surprise tech companies increasingly choose Amsterdam to grow their business. As the home of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and headquarters of major Dutch banks, the Dutch capital has established itself as a leading centre for fintech in recent years, with homegrown companies Adyen, Mollie and bunq gaining ground globally.

Read the full State of European Tech report here.

Read more business news from around Amsterdam or more about Amsterdam’s tech sector.