The small but mighty Benelux region (comprising Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) has recently emerged as one Europe’s most strategic startup ecosystems.
Its sectoral diversity, tech-driven institutions and network of international talent have led to the birth of more than 15k startups over the past decade, with both the Netherlands and Belgium above average when it comes to startups per 1m people, according to Dealroom.
The three countries went from strength to strength last year. They saw funding almost double in 2021 and brought in a combined €4.7bn in VC capital, three times more than 2020.
The state of funding in the Netherlands
Dutch startups amassed the greatest share of VC capital among the three, as more investors signed off bigger cheques — the average round size almost tripled from €4.1m to €11.9m between 2020 and 2021, with massive Series C+ rounds pushing it up to record levels.
Outside of capital-rich Amsterdam, new hubs have emerged — including Utrecht, Rotterdam, Groningen and The Hague, each specialising in different sectors.
But VC funding has cooled down over 2022 as megarounds tail off — only climate tech startup Perpetual Next has raised north of €250m — and investors approach deals more cautiously.
👉 Check out the full ranking of Benelux startups and scaleups to watch
The state of funding in Belgium
Belgium saw fewer but bigger deals in 2021, with funding totalling $1.5bn against $888m in 2020. It has so far raised $1.1bn in 2022, and although cooler funding trends haven’t disrupted Belgium’s hypergrowth as much, the chunkiest rounds this year took place in pre-slowdown Q1.
The city of Ghent has attracted the most capital in 2022 — around one third of the country’s total and three times as much as Brussels — which has been largely driven by the region’s biggest round, a $150m Series D for unicorn Deliverect.
The state of funding in Luxembourg
Luxembourg’s up-and-coming startup landscape has followed similar growth trajectories to the Benelux region as a whole. After funding levels dropped sharply in 2020, the country really stepped up its tech game in 2021.
Home to more than 500 startups, the country has seen its startups gather interest from international investors in recent months — Tencent led a $21m Series A into Leko Labs and Hertz participated in UFODRIVE’s $19m Series A.
But only 27 deals have been signed off this year (against 43 last year), making it clear that only a few startups will be able to get a slice of limited capital.
Amongst ever evolving developments, we’ve listed 100 startups to watch across the three countries — a mix of new faces, established scaleups and under-the-radar innovators spanning all major tech sectors. Find out who joins the likes of Dott, Otrium, Lightyear and Mosa Meat here.
For an in-depth dive into the Dutch ecosystem, download our free Intelligence report here.