March 4, 2024

13 deeptech communities you need to know, according to VCs

A list of Europe’s top communities for deeptech and university spinouts

Sophie Rowe

8 min read

European VCs are going all in on deeptech. Deeptech startups secured a record 44% of total capital invested in 2023, double the previous year’s share. 

Buzzy categories like novel AI, energy, space tech, quantum and defence tech have accounted for much of this growth. For rounds of less than $5 million, AI startups topped the charts, with climate and energy a close second.  

So where are investors sourcing these science-based startups? Deeptech requires deep sector expertise – which networks have the sharpest experts? 


We asked investors to share their go-to communities for deeptech and university spinouts in Europe. 

Let us know which tech communities you love by dropping us a line here. We run a community partner programme for not-for-profit organisations we see as key builders of startup communities.

Rick Hao, partner, Speedinvest (UK)

Hao is a partner at Austrian VC fund Speedinvest. He manages the fund’s deeptech investments including: AI, quantum, material science, semiconductors and cybersecurity. 

Cambridge Angels 

Founded: 2001 

HQ: Cambridge, UK

Size: 60+ angel investors

Community lead: Exited tech entrepreneurs Robert Sansom and David Cleevely are cofounders.

About: Cambridge Angels are a group of Cambridge-based angel investors, mostly former tech entrepreneurs. “They are a very active group, both from a dealflow and mentorship perspective,” says Hao. “Many of the members are incredibly generous with their time and can conduct deeptech due diligence at an impressive level across most industry verticals.”

Where to find them: 

Quantum Delta NL 

Founded: 2020

Community lead: Freeke Heijman-te Paske is cofounder and director of ecosystem development. 

HQ: Delft, the Netherlands

About: Quantum Delta NL is a community focussed on accelerating quantum tech in the Netherlands. “They have an ecosystem approach, bringing scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, investors, universities, and small and large enterprises together,” says Hao.  

Where to find them: 

Anke Huiskes, managing partner and founder, NP-Hard Ventures (the Netherlands)

Huiskes is managing partner and cofounder at NP-Hard Ventures, which raised its debut €12m fund last year. 

She also cofounded angel syndicates Positive Planet and — and spent almost a decade as an operator at US hardware startups.

Techleap for Deeptech 

Founded: 2021

HQ: Amsterdam, the Netherlands 

Size: 250+ academic founders and investors

Community lead: Former tech executive Peter Maarten Westerhoud is the director 

About: Techleap for Deeptech is a community of Dutch deeptech founders and investors. “We should open the doors, be less in silos and shift away from the fear that ‘somebody might steal my deal’,” says Huiskes. “Techleap is trying to ingrain that mentality into Dutch VC

Where to find them: 

European dynamism tour

HQ: Paris, France 

Community leads: Kyle O’Brien, general partner at Unit Ventures and Steven Jacobs, partner at Lakestar — the tour is cohosted by Vsquared, Elaia, TechleapNL and Founderful

About: European dynamism is a 5-day strategic tour, introducing US investors to four European deeptech hubs. “It's helpful to have an overarching organisation putting this together,” says Huiskes. 


Where to find them: 

Natalia Ahmadian, investor, Earlybird (Germany)

Ahmadian is an investor at Earlybird-X, a €75m deeptech fund partnered with more than 45 universities across Europe. 

She is also a startup coach at RWTH Aachen University — and is the project lead for this year’s Stage Two event. 

Stage Two

Founded: 2021

HQ: Berlin, Germany

Size: 500+ 

Community leads: Two professors — Dr. Malte Brettel at RWTH Aachen University and Dr. Stephan Stubner at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management. 

About: Stage Two is Europe’s largest pan-European startup competition. “The event brings together leading academic representatives, university spinoff founders, corporate partners and VCs from all over Europe… it serves as a strong ecosystem,” says Ahmadian. 

Where to find them: 


Founded: 2002

HQ: Munich, Germany

Size: 12,000+

Community lead: Entrepreneur Susanne Klatten and former TUM Präsident Wolfgang Herrmann are the cofounders. 

About: UnternehmerTUM is the largest centre for startups and innovation in Europe, spinning out more than 50 high-growth tech startups per year. “They offer founders access to an international community of VCs, corporates, universities and founders as well as offices and makerspaces,” says Ahmadian.  

Where to find them: 

Kinga Stanislawska, managing partner and cofounder, Experior VC (Poland)

Stanislawska is general partner and cofounder of Warsaw-based Experior Venture Fund. She has sat on the board of the European Innovation Council, Europe’s largest deeptech fund, since its inception in 2021.

She cofounded European Women in VC, Europe’s largest community of senior female investors and allies. 

Deeptech Venture Collective (The DETECT group) 

Founded: 2022

HQ: Sweden, Stockholm 

Size: 15 VC funds

Community leads: Two investors at Swedish VC fund Industrifonden — Patrik Sobocki and Iliam Barkino. 

About: Deep Tech Venture Collective is a group of 15 European deeptech VC funds, on a mission to produce more deeptech unicorns in Europe.  

Where to find them: 

Hello Tomorrow 

Founded: 2011

HQ: Paris, France

Size: 3000+ participants 

Community lead: Arnaud de la Tour, the CEO and cofounder, has been at the helm for over a decade. 

About: Hello Tomorrow is the largest deeptech network in the world — they run global events, organise startup competitions and advise high-growth startups. “Getting deeptech companies funded in Europe should be a clear priority for every European fund and investor: communities like these gather top minds and get that done collaboratively,” says Stanislawska. 

Where to find them: 

RISE Europe

Founded: 2023

Community lead: Prof. Dr. Helmut Schöneberger, CEO of UnternehmerTUM.

About: Rise Europe connects leaders from 20 academic institutions across Europe, to facilitate collaboration and “sustainable entrepreneurship”. They run an annual summit, this year taking place in Madrid. 

Where to find them: 

Andrea Traversone, managing partner, NATO Innovation Fund (UK)

Traversone is managing partner at NATO Innovation Fund, the security alliance’s €1bn venture arm for European defence tech. 

He has invested in deeptech startups for the past 25 years — and was previously managing partner at Amadeus Capital Partners. 

European defense investor network (EDIN)

Founded: 2022

HQ: Madrid, Spain 

Size: 90 members

Community lead: Eric Slesinger, general partner at 201 Ventures.

About: European defence investor network is a group of VCs focused on defence tech. “They have an active Whatsapp group… and Eric brings the community together once a year,” says Traversone. “The blend of physical and digital is great. It's a great size: when communities grow too big, they become less useful.” 

Where to find them: 


Founded: 1992

HQ: Edinburgh, Scotland

Size: 120 members

Community lead: Niki McKenzie and David Ovens are managing directors – both have corporate finance backgrounds. 

About: Archangels is the longest continuously operating angel syndicate in the world. They’re focussed on Scottish-founded IP-rich tech and life sciences startups.

Where to find them: 

Franziska Schildbach, investor, Atlantic Labs and FoodLabs (Germany)

Schildbach is a senior analyst at Berlin-based funds Atlantic Labs and FoodLabs, where she focuses on venture development. 

Nucleate (formerly Activate Bio)

Founded: 2018

HQ: Boston, US

Community leads: PhD students Michael Retchin and Samantha Sison are co-presidents. 

About: Nucleate is a global student-led community of next generation biotech founders. “They bridge the gap between academia and the startup ecosystem by supporting mission-driven students spinning out ventures from university,” says Schildbach. 

Where to find them: 

ClimateHack / FoodHack

Founded: 2016

HQ: Lausanne, Switzerland 

Size: 50,000

Community leads: Camille Bossel, Arman Anatürk and Emilie Dellecker are cofounders – they also founded investment platform HackVentures.

About: ClimateHack and FoodHack connect founders building breakthrough innovation in climate, food and agriculture with funders. The two communities come together for an annual event in Switzerland. “It’s ideal for staying updated on industry trends, networking with experts, and potentially finding a cofounder or top-tier hires,” says Schildbach. 

Where to find them: 

We’re running a pitch event, to showcase five deeptech founders on Sifted’s radar. You can sign up for the event on March 26 here

Sophie Rowe

Sophie Rowe is an events producer at Sifted, working on our in-person Sessions and flagship Summit. Connect with her on LinkedIn