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Round size surge gives France largest-ever Series A

The country continues to see ballooning round sizes.

By Freya Pratty

A French healthtech company has raised the country’s largest Series A ever, as round sizes across the continent — and particularly in France — balloon.

Paris-based Mnemo Therapeutics set the record Wednesday with the announcement of a €75m Series A round, led by Casdin Capital and Sofinnova Partners.

Mnemo’s round has taken the top Series A spot from Vade Secure, a security startup working on preventing email scams that raised a €65m round in 2019. 

Mnemo is developing cell therapies to improve the body’s ability to fight disease, aiming to treat people with cancer.

“The scene in France is changing,” says Alain Maiore, cofounder of the company. “Beyond what Mnemo is doing, what Sofinnova is contributing, there are more players growing up in France and being more ambitious.”

France isn’t the only country seeing larger round sizes. It’s a phenomenon occurring across Europe — a sign its tech scene is maturing. Founders have more access to capital as European VCs have amassed greater warchests, and American and Chinese investment floods in. American investment into Europe in 2021 has already surpassed 2020’s total.

In the case of Mnemo, Casdin is a VC firm based in New York, while Sofinnova is a Paris-based firm specialised in healthtech investment. 

Maiore says having an investor from America as well as one from Europe is important for Mnemo. “We should not underestimate the role that our US investors are playing in enabling us to be a global company,” he says.

France’s funding boom

The average size of a Series A round in France has increased by over 500% over the past decade. Back in 2011, the average was €2.4m. In 2021, it’s €14.6m. 

France was broadly below the European average for Series A round sizes until 2016. The country has jumped ahead in 2021: the European average Series A for the year is €11.4m, compared to nearly €15m in France. 

Overall, France has seen strong growth in investment into its startups in recent years.

It was the only one of Europe’s three largest markets (the UK, Germany and France) to grow in 2020, exceeding $5bn invested in a year for the first time. 

It’s not just Series A rounds that continue to grow. Seed rounds in France are also on the increase: they’ve grown steadily from an average of €0.3m each in 2011 to €2m in 2021.

France was level with the European average up until 2018. Today, the European average in 2021 is €1.5m.

The French average this year has been pulled up by a record round in April, when restaurant payments startup Sunday raised a $24m seed round, the largest ever.

It’s a similar story at Series B, too. 

Last year, fintech Lydia secured the country’s largest ever Series B round at $131m. Last month, ecommerce marketplace Ankorstore raised the second largest: $100m.

On securing the funding, cofounder of Ankorstore Nicolas D’Audiffret said the country’s increasing round sizes are a sign of its ability to compete on the world stage. 

“France has now reached an inflection point and we are now garnering the investments required to compete on the global stage,” he told Sifted. 

“What is great and very promising is to see the level of ambition growing among the French entrepreneurs who are no longer satisfied with building great local companies.”

Freya Pratty is Sifted’s news reporter. She tweets from @FPratty

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