From life-altering biotech to powerful quantum supercomputers, deeptech startups are tackling some of life’s most complicated technical challenges. Investors are tapped into the potential, writing cheques to the tune of $13.2bn so far this year — that’s around 71% of last year’s total, according to Dealroom, with three months of the year left to go.
For some of the recipients of this cash, spending on headcount and growing the team’s talent arsenal has been a priority — so, which deeptech startups have been boosting numbers the most over the past 12 months?
Of the 10 fastest-growing deeptech teams, three are in the UK — which has bagged over a fifth (22%) of the sector’s European funding so far this year — putting the country on top for representation. France and Germany follow with two each.
Here are the fastest-growing teams across the sector, based on headcount growth over the past 12 months, according to Dealroom. Startups had to have raised at least $50m to be considered.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 389% to 176 employees
Stability AI — a generative AI startup and creator of AI image generator Stable Diffusion — takes the top spot. That’s despite the company seeing an exodus of senior talent in recent months. The company bagged a $101m Series A in October last year, backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Coatue Management, and recently released an audio generator tool — which, Sifted found, can’t create a deepfake of Taylor Swift singing about kebabs.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 200% to 117 employees
Toulouse-based E-Space is building a sustainable satellite network geared towards powering space-based applications that improve life on Earth, collecting ESG data and making spacecraft deployment more accessible. It received $50m in seed funding from Prime Movers Lab in February 2022.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 154% to 239 employees
Energy unicorn newcleo is building nuclear reactors, with the goal of producing a safe and sustainable source of power using the waste produced by existing nuclear power plants. It’s raised around $448m so far, according to Dealroom, and most recently drummed up €300m in June 2022.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 140% to 103 employees
Matter Labs has produced zkSync, a crypto scaling solution that aims to increase the accessibility of trading on the blockchain by reducing the cost of Ethereum transactions. Lightspeed Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz were among the investors in its most recent $200m Series C raise, closed in November 2022.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 129% to 737 employees
DeepL, which offers an AI-powered real-time language translation and writing improvement platform, last raised €100m in January 2023, backed by investors including Atomico and Bessemer Venture Partners. The round also saw the Cologne-based company reach unicorn status with a $1bn+ valuation.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 116% to 80 employees
Terra Quantum offers a tech stack for quantum-as-a-service tools, providing functions like security protocols and algorithm design. It’s raised around $86m so far, and most recently brought its total Series A round — backed by Lakestar and Investcorp — to $75m, in February 2022.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 114% to 233 employees
Stockholm’s Candela is building the world’s first fully electric speedboat that has the same speed and range as a traditional fossil-fuelled one. It last raised an €18.7m round in March 2023. EQT Ventures and Ocean Zero are among its backers.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 105% to 43 employees
Carbon capture startup Carbfix permanently stores CO2 emissions in stone, which then goes underground — it’s a process that naturally takes thousands of years, but Carbfix can achieve it in less than two years. In July 2022, it received a $117m grant from the European Investment Fund and the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 105% to 41 employees
Paris-based Moon Surgical is developing a robotic surgical assistant — dubbed Maestro — to help surgeons be more accurate and efficient in surgery. In May 2022, it secured $55.4m in funding from investors including Sofinnova Partners, Nvidia and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.
Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 100% to 28 employees
CORE POWER is developing nuclear technology to power the maritime sector, providing zero emission energy to floating industrial production and deep-sea shipping. It’s bagged around $185m so far, with its latest $80m closing in May 2023; two Japanese investors, Imabari and Onomichi Dockyard, backed the round.