French tech is having a moment. The country was the only major tech ecosystem in Europe that saw its startups raise more money in 2022 than in 2021 — and the French government is keen to keep up momentum, with President Macron setting the lofty goal of having 100 unicorns by 2030.
Over the past few months huge amounts of money have been pumped into the French tech sector and the government is looking at financial reforms that would further boost entrepreneurship and investment.
France also minted seven new unicorns last year — the joint-second most of any European country in a year where the number of new $1bn+ valuations dropped. And while investors tell Sifted they expect far, far fewer new unicorns in the next 12 months, a number of startups could be on their way to hitting the mark in the next couple of years.
Sifted used data from Dealroom and spoke to VCs to find out which French tech companies are most likely to hit unicorn status next. Each company was founded after 2005, raised its last round in 2021 or later and has a valuation between $500m-999m, according to Dealroom.
The French startups that could hit unicorn status
What: A SaaS platform for the real estate industry to measure sustainability metrics.
Latest valuation: $660m-990m (March 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Founded in 2014, Deepki collects and aggregates data on sustainability metrics like carbon emissions, water and energy usage and waste — as well as other ESG measurements. It last raised in a $150m Series C in March 2022, and also made it onto Sifted’s 2022 climate tech soonicorns list.
What: Platform-as-a-service startup.
Latest valuation: $560m-840m (June 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Founded in 2014, the startup manages all the infrastructure behind building and running a website or app for companies. It raised a $140m Series D in June 2022.
What: Biotech that makes DNA for labs.
Latest valuation: $825m (January 2022)
Founded in 2014, DNA Script helps labs create custom DNA, and also made Sifted’s techbio soonicorns list. It last raised in January 2022, with a $35m extension to the $165m Series C it picked up the previous autumn.
What: Real estate investment platform.
Latest valuation: $550m-825m (September 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Clubfunding is a crowdfunding platform that allows real estate entrepreneurs to drum up alternative financing for their projects by issuing bonds. It raised €125m in September 2022 — its only round to date.
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What: Ecommerce platform.
Latest valuation: $540m-810m (March 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Founded in 2013, Akeneo raised a $135m Series D in March 2022, taking its total funding to $196m.
What: Airship manufacturer.
Latest valuation: $537m-805m (July 2022, Dealroom)
The zeppelin could be making a comeback as Flying Whales looks to develop its cargo transport airship, helped by the startup raising €122m in July 2022. It’s yet to complete designs for the airship but plans to manufacture its first by the end of 2024.
What: Buy now, pay later provider.
Latest valuation: $506m-759m (February 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Founded in 2018, the Paris-based fintech has raised $198m since 2019 — as well as $300m in debt in October 2022 from BNP Paribas. It so far seems to have avoided last year's BNPL slump, which saw giant Klarna cut staff amid rising losses and smaller players bow out of the market.
What: Online driving school.
Latest valuation: $750m (April 2021)
Founded in 2013, Ornikar raised a $120m Series C in April 2021 after it saw an uptick in users during the pandemic. The startup has since grown its team by a third and says its platform has 3m monthly users, according to Dealroom.
What: Insurtech, specifically focused on climate.
Latest valuation: $480m-720m (January 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Descartes Underwriting insures corporates and governments against climate risk, and last raised in January 2022 when it picked up a $120m Series B. It’s one of a number of European startups riding the insurtech wave right now.
What: Battery tech manufacturer.
Latest valuation: $440m-660m (July 2021, Dealroom estimate)
Verkor was one of Europe’s fastest-growing climate tech startups in 2022. It raised $250m in November last year, from the likes of Bpifrance, and is looking to build its first gigafactory and begin shipping lithium-ion batteries by 2025.
What: Quantum computing startup.
Latest valuation: $440m-660m (January 2023, Dealroom estimate)
Pasqal says its technology achieved a world first when it managed to run a lending risk calculation that performed as well as a state-of-the-art classical computer. It followed that up with a €100m raise in January this year, as it sets its sights on developing its tech and expanding its international footprint.
What: Biotech developing immunotherapy antibodies
Latest valuation: $422m-634m (June 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Founded in 2015, Imcheck develops immunotherapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases. It raised a €96m Series C in June 2022 from investors like Earlybird, EQT Group and Eurazeo, taking its total funding to $190m.
What: Games development tool.
Latest valuation: $400m-600m (October 2022, Dealroom estimate)
The startup is an all-in-one development tool for people building mobile games, and is backed by investors including Daniel Ek’s family office. It last raised in October 2022, when it bagged a $100m Series C from the likes of Northzone and Eurazeo.
What: Social media app.
Latest valuation: $600m (May 2022)
BeReal was the social media sensation of 2022, after it picked up funding from big-name US investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Accel. But some say the app is now at a pivotal moment, as it grapples with slowing downloads and lacklustre monetisation.
What: Workplace health platform.
Latest valuation: $352m-528m (February 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Padoa is an occupational health platform for employers, providing healthcare for employees and risk analysis in the workplace. It was launched by venture builder Kamet Ventures in 2016 and last raised in an €80m round in February 2022.
What: Battery tech startup.
Latest valuation: $35m-528m (October 2022, Dealroom estimate)
I-Ten develops and manufactures micro-batteries for use in tech like smart watches and VR headsets, and last raised an €80m Series C in October 2022.
What: Recruitment platform
Latest valuation: $352m-528m (June 2022, Dealroom estimate)
Founded in 2012, Anywr last raised in June last year, picking up €80m from investors including Eurazeo.
What: Finance management platform for SMEs.
Latest valuation: $500m (May 2021)
The finance management platform for SMEs last raised almost two years ago, when it picked up a $100m Series B. The company was founded in 2016, and announced 150% growth at the end of 2022.