October 9, 2023

From ‘Spanish Grammarly’ to gene silencing: September’s hottest seed rounds

The early-stage startups that won in the back-to-office dealmaking

Source: Opna

Bummer summer gave way to bumper September. 

After a sleepy August, tech deal flow picked up significantly last month with 287 pre-seed and seed rounds, compared with the 138 pre-seed and seed deals we saw in August, according to data from Dealroom. 

The early-stage scene drummed up €488m in total (that’s pre-seed and seed amounts together), compared to €322m in August. But, worth noting, September 2023’s early-stage funding was down from the €760m raised in September 2022.

Where were the deals happening last month? The UK regained its seed crown, with France dropping to second place. The UK pooled €142m in funding in September, up from €58m in August, while tech money raised in France fell 40% to €71m (August in France was dominated by Poolside AI’s huge €117m round). Spain took third place in September, with €43m worth of deals (up from a meagre €9m in August). 


Healthtech startups were the biggest draw for investors in September, raking in almost €100m. Next came fintech and energy startups. 

Here are 12 seed rounds that caught Sifted’s eyes. 


Biotech had a few rock-and-roll years following the pandemic, with money arriving by the truckful and tons of IPOs, but hit a slump last year. The sector has picked up a bit in 2023, with a flurry of deals. Among the latest is the funding for UK-based Laverock Therapeutics, which raised £13.5m for its “gene-silencing” tech — a fairly new technique to suppress or “silence” genes associated with certain diseases. Investors were Mercia Asset Management, Maven Capital Partners, Calculus Capital, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, Tekfen Ventures, Eos Advisory, and Eli Lilly and Company. 

Another UK biotech, Pencil Biosciences, a developer of gene-editing tech for rare diseases, scooped £5.6m from investors Jonathan Milner, SyndicateRoom, Martlet, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, Octopus Ventures, Catapult Ventures, o2h Ventures and Northern Gritstone. 

Talk to doctors and they’ll say the crushing amount of paperwork they encounter is definitely bad for their health. Lending a hand is Brussels-based Awell, which raised $5m from Octopus Ventures, S16 Angel Fund and former chairman of NHS England Lord David Prior to help hospitals automate their workflows. 

Elsewhere, Danish healthtech Notify Therapeutics raised €5m from investors Lundbeckfonden and +ND Capital to provide a novel hormone-free treatment to infertile women who don’t benefit from current treatment options.


The growing carbon offset market is riddled with problems around transparency and measurement — so there’s a big demand for any company that can help make sense of it. UK-based Opna (formerly Salt), which helps corporates discover, finance and monitor carbon offset projects, bagged $6.5m from a wide range of investors, including Atomico, Allison Pickens, Luke Griffiths, Tiny VC, Cristina Stenbeck, Angel Invest, Pale blue dot, Stijn Christiaens and MCJ Collective. 

Paris-based Ondorse, a B2B identification and verification platform, raised a €3.8m seed round, led by existing investors Eurazeo and ISAI.


If you scored the winning goal in a World Cup final, how would you spend the rest of your days? Well, German footballer Mario Götze wants to help renters control their energy spending. He’s one of the investors in a €2.7m raise for Stuttgart-based metergrid, which offers software that enables consumption-based electricity payments for tenants. Other investors include Tiny VC, 468 Capital and Mätch VC (and for a catch-up on Götze’s lively portfolio, we’ve got this recent piece on the value of having celebs on your cap table).  

Seville-based Build to Zero, a climate tech startup that makes energy storage tech, raised €2.5m from Spanish investors Axon Partners Group and Digital Five Investment.

Dublin-based Openvolt netted €1.5m from Berlin investor Cavalry Ventures and Zurich’s Übermorgen Ventures for its API that unlocks data from solar PV, EV charging and other energy sources.


Tallinn-based VOOL, a maker of electric vehicle chargers, raised €2.9m in September (of which €1.3m is a seed investment and €1.6m is a grant). The deal was led by Specialist VC with participation from a bunch of angel investors. 


Dubbed the “Grammarly for Spanish”, edtech Correcto bagged €6.5m from VCs RiverPark Ventures, Octopus Ventures and Carya Venture Partners. The Madrid-based startup offers users help writing emails and other texts in Spanish without errors. 

Berlin-based Cleverly, a site providing online tutoring and mentoring options for kids, raised €4.6m from investors Capnamic Ventures, Rubio Impact Ventures, Verena Pausder, emma Ventures and author Florian Langenscheidt.

Seed rounds of 2023

Shubham Jaipuria

Shubham is a data analyst intern with Sifted Intelligence, and can be contacted on LinkedIn