May 14, 2024

Europe’s only nuclear unicorn raises €87m

UK-based Newcleo tells Sifted another close could come before the summer — as the company targets a $1bn round

Europe’s best-funded nuclear startup Newcleo has raised €87m.

The round was the first close of an ongoing fundraise — that the UK-based company previously announced was targeting €1bn — a Newcleo spokesperson tells Sifted. 

They add the company expects further closes, including one before the summer. “We are holding a number of promising conversations with significant prospective investors and are optimistic about progress.”

Newcleo declined to comment on the investors involved in the round. It brings the startup’s total funding to €487m, just three years on from launch, according to Companies House filings. 


Existing backers include US VC Exor Ventures and the investment vehicle of the Agnelli family office — founder of Italy’s largest carmaker Fiat. Italian investor Azimut Group and Italian tech transfer fund LIFTT are also investors.

“As a fast-growing company, we utilise all funds raised to develop our technology and projects, and to support our ongoing acquisition strategy,” the company spokesperson says. 

Next generation nuclear reactors

Newcleo is developing lead-cooled small modular reactors (SMRs) fuelled with radioactive waste — one of six types of “fourth-generation” reactors (also known as advanced reactors) which will begin to be rolled out in the 2030s.

It’s Europe’s only nuclear unicorn — valued between $1.3bn-2bn, according to Dealroom estimates — and the best-funded nuclear startup in Europe by some margin. The next is UK-based Core Power, which is developing nuclear tech for the marine industry and has raised $195m, according to Dealroom. 

In February, Newcleo announced it had shelved plans to build a fuel manufacturing factory in the UK after the government refused it access to its waste plutonium. Instead, it plans to increase the production capacity of its plant in France after president Emmanuel Macron reportedly launched a charm offensive with the company.

That’ll be finished by 2030 alongside a demonstrator reactor to prove its tech works, founder and CEO Stefano Buono told Sifted in March. Newcleo is also building a research facility in Italy which it hopes to complete by 2026.

Buono said it’ll take the startup at least until 2033 to launch its first revenue-making commercial reactor.

A tricky fundraising landscape

While €87m is a sizeable sum in the current fundraising landscape, it’s a fraction of the total Newcleo needs to raise to realise its big ambitions.

Buono said that Newcleo will need to invest €3bn in France alone by 2030 to build its fuel processing plant and demonstrator reactor. 

The first step towards that will be closing the ongoing raise, which Newcleo confirmed to Sifted was still targeting €1bn, but declined to share a final closing date.


While the nuclear sector is more mature in the US and several companies have raised megarounds — since 2021, deals like Commonwealth Fusion Systems’ $1.8bn, TerraPower’s $750m and Helion Energy’s $500m have rolled in — the past year has proved challenging for stateside companies raising money in the space. 

Investor confidence has been dented by failed projects and collapsed deals, the FT reported in December last year. Total investment into US nuclear startups dropped to $333m in 2023 — a fraction of the $4.5bn picked up the two previous years.

In comparison, the nuclear startup sector is still waiting to take off in Europe. Funding for startups from the continent rose from $140m in 2021 to $541m in 2022 (propped up by €100m and €300m raises from Newcleo) before falling to $178m in 2023.

Buono told Sifted that the company was looking to raise from family offices, high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors, alongside tapping public funds in the form of tax credits. 

Kai Nicol-Schwarz

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers UK tech and healthtech, and can be found on X and LinkedIn