Analysis

July 4, 2023

Fungi to save forests, recycling tough plastics and data to boost your local pub: June’s hottest seed rounds

The startups that celebrated seed funding last month

Sadia Nowshin

4 min read

Europe’s seed-stage startups ended the first half of 2023 on a high, raising around ​​€697m in June, according to Dealroom — a huge jump from May’s €461m and the highest amount raised in a single month by early-stage companies so far this year. While funding soared, however, deal count dipped, with June seeing 288 rounds against May’s 335. 

Before popping any corks, it’s worth noting that the month’s total was boosted significantly by French generative AI lab Mistral AI’s huge €105m seed round. The round also meant that France leapfrogged the UK into top spot as the country that raised the most — it brought in €215m in seed-stage funding, compared to the UK’s €161m. 

Mistral’s round also meant the enterprise software industry ended June as the industry that brought in the most seed-stage funding during the month. Fintech, which had begun to slip down the rankings in prior months, regained its spot in the top three with €49m. 

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So, which other startups had cause to celebrate last month? Here are 10 seed-stage deals that caught Sifted’s eye in June. 

Health and techbio

Astraveus, a French platform to automate the production of cell and gene therapies, emerged from stealth last month with a €16.5m seed round from AdBio partners and M Ventures, with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Bpifrance also pitching in. The company aims to miniaturise the cell and gene therapy process and eliminate the need for large-scale infrastructure, reducing both the cost and space demand typically required when building these treatments. 

UK-based Upfront Diagnostics is building the world’s first rapid diagnostic test that uses a drop of blood to identify a stroke within 15 minutes. It raised £1.6m led by APEX Ventures, with grant funding from SBRI Healthcare in partnership with Stroke Association, a charity.

Germany-based hema.to’s mission is to make cytometry — the clinical analysis of blood data — fully automated, to improve both the time and effort needed to conduct tests and the accuracy of results. The AI-powered software also explains the factors that lead to its decisions,  making writing medical reports easier. It raised €3.6m from Elaia Partners, Heal Capital and High-Tech Gründerfonds. 

Danish NorFalk is creating new sustainable surfactants (chemical compounds used in industry) to make the production of laundry detergent, soap and cosmetic products more climate-friendly. NorFalk’s surfactants are free from palm oil or fossil fuels, and the company raised a pre-seed round of DKK13.7m (€1.83m). 

Climate and energy 

Just 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled, according to the OECD, the rich nations club. Part of the problem is the difficulty of recycling some types, like plastics that are made up of several different materials. DePoly is developing a way to convert some of the most common "contaminated" plastics, like PET plastics and polyester textiles, back into raw chemical parts while maintaining the quality of the original plastic. They are then sold back to industry to promote a circular economy. Its $13.8m seed was led by BASF Venture Capital and Wingman Ventures, with manufacturing company Beiersdorf, investment company Infinity Recycling, CIECH Ventures and Angel Invest also pitching in. 

Carbon capture startup Skytree, based in the Netherlands, helps businesses that need to use CO2 reduce their climate impact with an onsite system that uses decentralised direct air capture (DDAC) technology to collect excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Current use cases include vertical farming and greenhouse industries, and the creation of building materials. It raised $6m from horticultural investment fund Horticoop and agritech fund Yield Lab Europe.

Greenlyte Carbon Technologies, a German startup creating a fossil fuel alternative by converting outdoor air into hydrocarbons, has added €4.5m to its seed funding. Its total funding now stands at €8m. 

Scotland’s Rhizocore Technologies produces a pellet that, when planted, grows into native types of mycorrhizal fungi specific to each site to help encourage and boost tree growth in forest regeneration efforts. The fungi also helps more young tree saplings to survive by providing them essential nutrients, and reduces the risk of droughts by strengthening roots against disease. The startup raised a £3.5m round from Collaborative Fund, Grok Ventures and ReGen Ventures. 

Fintech 

German payments platform Payrails helps businesses access and offer global payments to customers and automate financial operations, like performance insights, in one place. It raised fintech’s highest round of the month, with a seed extension of $14.4m from EQT Ventures, General Catalyst and existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and HV Capital.  

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Netherlands-based TAPP uses a catering or hospitality company’s cash register data to power a digital platform with insights on how similar local businesses are performing. It can offer details like which drinks brands are selling best in the area and the margins that other local establishments are working with, to help owners plan better for their own business. It raised €3m from CNBB and ROM InWest, and €1m of the funding came in the form of a loan from Rabobank. 

Sadia Nowshin

Sadia Nowshin is an editorial assistant at Sifted. Follow her on X and LinkedIn