During the frothy days of 2021 and 2022, European investors pumped $415.6bn into startups globally, according to Dealroom — more than the previous seven years combined. While figures have dipped in 2023, they’re still on track to be higher than any year before 2021.
The ultimate providers of all that cash are limited partners (LPs), the backers of VCs, a group made up of ultra-wealthy family offices, institutions, funds of funds and state-backed investors.
Using data from PitchBook, Sifted has dug into the numbers to find out which LPs — not owned by a state or government and not secondary stake investors — have backed the most European VCs since 2010. Where possible, Sifted has confirmed the data with the LPs themselves.
Nordic pension funds dominate the list — highlighting their track record for backing VC — and sit alongside funds of funds, a family office and a multinational bank.
A caveat: many LPs do not communicate about their investments and prefer to stay under the radar, so this list may be incomplete. If you're an LP investing in venture and think you should be on this list, email email@example.com.
LGT Capital Partners – Switzerland
European VC funds backed: 120 primary funds in Europe from 45+ managers in venture and growth.
LGT Capital Partners, founded in 1998, has invested in over 400 venture capital firms across Europe, the US and Asia. The firm’s fourth venture capital fund, announced in July 2023, is $930m+. The firm also backs emerging managers, and does co-investments and secondary transactions.
European VC funds backed: 75 (confirmed by company)
Molten Ventures is one of the very few publicly listed VC firms in Europe. Its fund-of-funds programme invests solely in early-stage VC funds, shunning any that invest predominantly at Series A and beyond. All but two of its portfolio funds are European, and include VCs like Seedcamp, Speedinvest, Earlybird, Stride and Ada Ventures.
Molten says it’s committed over £150m to VC funds.
Alongside being the most active non-state-owned LP since 2010, Molten is also a prolific investor directly into startups. It counts neobanks N26 and Revolut, beleaguered car marketplace Cazoo and semiconductor manufacturer Graphcore among its startup portfolio.
European VC funds backed: 74 (confirmed by company)
Isomer Capital launched in 2015 and focuses on investing in seed and Series A funds. It typically backs funds raising between £50m-150m and steers clear of non-European and late-stage VCs. Investors like Seedcamp, Kindred, OTB Ventures, Frst and Atlantic Labs all count Isomer as an LP.
The fund announced the first close of a new €250m investment vehicle in June — it’s third to date — and said it will invest between €5m-10m in 20 early-stage funds in the UK and Europe, across all sectors.
In 2021 Isomer launched a €100m fund to invest directly into startups, and has direct stakes in companies like refurbished electronics marketplace Refurbed, e-bike maker Cowboy and temporary work platform Zenjob.
Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP)
European VC funds backed: 35 (PitchBook data)
Insurance group KLP manages the pensions of municipal employees in Norway and had assets worth €64.7bn at the end of 2022, according to media reports. The company declined to comment on its VC fund investments as they make up a small proportion of its total portfolio.
KLP has backed some of the biggest names in European VC. According to PitchBook, KLP was an LP in a number of Creandum’s funds — including its most recent $500m fund — and has also backed Accel, Index and Northzone.
Elo Mutual Pension Insurance
European VC funds backed: 21 (PitchBook data)
Elo is a Finnish pension fund provider, and has $30.7bn assets under management, according to PitchBook. The company declined to comment on its LP investments, but tells Sifted that it only backs Finnish VC funds, which make up a small portion of its investment programme.
Elo has backed funds like Maki.VC, Icebreaker Fund and Lifeline Ventures.
European VC funds backed: 17 (confirmed by company)
Industriens Pension is a Danish pension fund. It tells Sifted that it backs funds from seed to late-stage and has a preference for fund managers with a proven track record. It has €30.2bn in assets under management.
The pension fund has backed investors like Highland Europe — including the $1bn fund it raised at the start of this year — Heartcore Capital, Project A Ventures and Creandum.
Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance
European VC funds backed: 17 (PitchBook data)
Ilmarinen is a Finnish pension fund with $61.11bn assets under management. It’s mostly backed VCs from its home country, like Inventure, Lifeline Ventures and Maki.VC, according to PitchBook. Ilmarinen has also backed funds from prolific Swedish investor EQT.
Ilmarinen could not be reached for comment.
European VC funds backed: 16 (PitchBook data)
HQ: Halle, Belgium
Korys is the most active family office in terms of VC fund investments in Europe, investing the assets of the Colruyt family, owners of an eponymous Belgian budget supermarket chain. It's backed investors like Highland Europe, Forbion Capital and Blue Horizon Ventures, according to PitchBook. It has $4.4bn assets under management.
Korys could not be reached for comment.
Blue Future Partners (BFP)
European VC funds backed: 13 (confirmed by company)
BFP is a Munich-based fund of funds, financed primarily by family offices, according to the company. It focuses exclusively on emerging managers of early-stage funds, typically between $50m and $150m in size. BFP has backed funds at Speedinvest, Earlybird, Visionaries Club and Chalfen Ventures.
European VC funds backed: 13 (PitchBook data)
BNP Paribas is a multinational bank headquartered in Paris, and has backed 13, mostly French, VC funds since 2010. Those include a number of Kurma Partners funds, Educapital Fund and Karista.
BNP Paribas could not be reached for comment.
Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company
European VC funds backed: 11 (PitchBook data)
Another Finnish pension fund, Varma has also backed a host of Nordic VCs, including EQT Ventures, Maki.VC and Icebreaker. The fund has $61.8bn in assets under management.
Varma could not be reached for comment.
Aug 23, 2020 update: added LGT Capital Partners.