May 24, 2023

Ranking: German startups to watch in 2023

Sifted has ranked 100 German startups and scaleups to watch out for this year

Image: Shutterstock

This piece is an accompaniment to our newly launched ranking of German startups and scaleups to watch in 2023. 

Germany is one of the leading tech scenes in Europe, and has birthed dozens of VC-backed unicorns, such as Personio, Celonis and N26. 

And although, like most European tech ecosystems, it suffered amid market shakes — year-on-year VC funding was down 43%, from $21bn in 2021 to $12.1bn in 2022, according to Dealroom — there are signs that 2023 is looking a little brighter. Funding into German startups fared better than expected in the first quarter of the year, up 28% on Q4 2022. 


Today, Sifted is releasing its annual selection of German startups to watch, based on funding momentum (how quickly a company has raised at each stage), market opportunity, competitive advantage and investor strength. These companies, which span all sectors and stages, made a big impact in 2022 and are expected to continue to do so in 2023.

But before we dig into who made it, let’s take a look at the state of play in German tech.

A fight with France

France overtook Germany in 2022 to become Europe’s second-biggest tech ecosystem — and Germany is still behind so far this year. 

However, there are signs that Germany could reclaim second place. In terms of public funding, Germany steamed ahead early in 2023, unveiling a €1bn deeptech and climate tech fund (DTCF) in February to rival France’s €500m commitment to deeptech startups.

Germany is leading the charts of the top 20 biggest rounds in Europe so far this year too, having bagged six of them. The UK has snaffled up four of the rounds, and France three. 

Mega rounds aren’t entirely dead

Despite investors being more conservative with their spending in 2022, a few of Germany’s unicorns have raised juicy megarounds ($100m+) this year.

Digital insurance platform wefox and process mining company Celonis raised the biggest, both scooping up $400m in Series D funding. 

Other big rounds were snaffled up by football app Onefootball — which raised a $300m Series D — digital freight forwarder Forto which raised a $250m Series D and broking app Trade Republic which raised a $250m Series C. 

Domestic capital is flowing

The proportion of funding from German investors into German startups modestly increased from 21% in 2021 to 24% in 2022 — a win giving funding levels dropped across the board in the second half of 2022.

Meanwhile, the proportion of funding from the US into German startups — which has played a big role in topping up funding rounds at the later stages — fell from 41% to 27% in the same period. 

Early-stage funding is propping up the funding total

Most VC cash is being plugged into early stage startups — as the later-stage funding drought continues across Europe. 284 pre-Series A and 63 Series A deals have already been recorded this year, according to Dealroom — accounting for 87% of the total number to date. The average pre-Series A ($900k) and Series A ($8.4m) round sizes are at record highs too.


Hot sectors in 2023

Fintech, health, food, real estate and enterprise software have swallowed up the most funding since 2015. 

But that might be about to change. In Q1 of this year, energy — for the first time — was the best funded sector in Germany, thanks in part to Enpal's €215m Series D.

Sifted’s German startups to watch 

The German startups and scaleups selected for this year’s ranking are an interesting bunch. The sector and stage most represented are fintech and Series B, respectively, and just short of half (49) are based in the capital of Berlin, followed by Munich and Hamburg.

Hot names like rocket-maker Isar Aerospace, insurtech GetSafe and delivery drone maker Wingcopter have made the ranking again this year, but there are a good number of new entrants too:

  • Capmo offers project management software for construction professionals and is backed by VC heavyweight Bessemer Venture Capital, among other investors. It has raised approximately €36m since it was founded in 2018 and is active in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
  • Kadmos is a B2B cross-border payments platform that was founded in 2021. This year, the company will be taking part in Visa’s highly coveted accelerator program, for which only seven companies out of 450 applicants were selected. 
  • Modifi is one of Europe’s leading fintechs, offering digital trade finance for buyers and sellers across the globe. The company quickly internationalised outside of Europe, opening offices in Dubai, Hong Kong, India and, most recently, Singapore. 
  • Upvest is an investment API provider that seems to be going from strength to strength. Aside from its impressive roster of investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Earlybird, Speedinvest and Notion Capital, Upvest has this month partnered with Revolut to provide its end users with fractional ETF and European stock trading throughout Europe.

This piece is an accompaniment to our newly launched ranking of German startups and scaleups to watch in 2023, produced by startup analyst Daria Dmytrenko and charted by Ruggero Di Spigna. Check it out in full here.

Miriam Partington

Miriam Partington is a reporter at Sifted. She covers the DACH region and the future of work, and coauthors Startup Life , a weekly newsletter on what it takes to build a startup. Follow her on X and LinkedIn

Jonathan Sinclair

Jonathan Sinclair is intelligence research manager at Sifted. Find him on LinkedIn