European sustainability startups raised nearly €11bn last year — and that momentum has continued into 2022 for Europe’s planet positive companies.
€2.8bn was thrown at green startups in the first quarter of 2022, just slightly less than the €2.9bn raised in Q4 2021, according to data from Dealroom.
163 startups raised funding this quarter — just a tad lower than the 190 startups raising the quarter before.
Although fewer deals closed, there were several big rounds: French refurbished electronic marketplace Back Market grabbed $510m at a $5.7bn valuation, while Swedish electric truck company Volta Trucks raised €230m.
Nearly a quarter of the startups that raised were based in the UK (24%), accounting for 44 deals. Germany recorded 27 deals and France 20.
Startups in France raised the most money overall — an enormous €881m — thanks in large part to Back Market’s mammoth raise.
The UK raised €1bn in Q4 2021, but racked up a tamer €384m this quarter. Finland, despite seeing just four sustainability deals this quarter, bagged €236m thanks to €123m for space startup ICEYE and €112m for Swappie, another refurbished electronics marketplace.
Energy sector deals dominated climate tech investing last quarter — perhaps unsurprisingly, given the urgent interest across Europe in moving away from Russian gas. Refurbished electronics also did well, thanks to Back Market and Swappie’s large rounds.
The green transition is underway — meet the startups driving it.
It’s not all about the numbers though. Here are the sustainability deals Sifted has found most interesting this year:
- Fintech’s hit the farm. Agreena, a Copenhagen-based platform allowing farmers to earn carbon credits for turning their land into carbon sinks (an area that absorbs more carbon than it releases), raised $22.5m in Series A funding in February. Sifted chatted to Agreena to find out how it all works.
- Data centres are a hot mess — cooling them is projected to account for 10% of the globe’s electricity usage by 2025. Enter Submer, a Spanish startup which has developed a data centre cooling solution and counts Telefónica as a client. It raised $34m in January with backing from investors like Planet First Partners and Norrsken VC. Submer says its solution can reduce energy usage by 50% compared with other cooling methods.
- Blockchain-powered supply chain tracking tool turned greenwashing tracking tool Provenance bagged €5m in funding in March, to help consumers get verification on a retailer’s sustainability claims.
- Knowledge sharing between the world’s governments hasn’t been the best, and it's even more of an issue when it comes to sustainability. Sorting this out could save trillions of dollars a year and accelerate our response to crises like climate change. London-based Apolitical thinks it has the answer. It’s built a knowledge-sharing platform to train public servants and help successful policies spread beyond borders. Apolitical is already used by 160 countries, and it raised a £5m Series A in March to expand further.
- Nuclear fusion, a clean nuclear energy source, has been getting more attention from investors in recent months. Marvel Fusion, a Munich-based nuclear fusion startup creating non-thermal fusion reactions with lasers, raised €35m in Series A funding in February from investors including Earlybird and Siemens. Research suggests that the market could be worth $40tn in the future.
- In February, UK-based battery startup Britishvolt, which counts Swedish decacorn Northvolt as a competitor, hoovered up £200m in a Series C equity funding round. Commodities giant Glencore put in £40m. Britishvolt is planning to finish building its gigafactory in northeast England by 2024, which it says will produce enough battery cells for 300k electric vehicles per year.
- German startup Zolar, a solar panel provider for homes, raised $23m in March. What’s so interesting about another solar panel company? Well, Ecosia, the search engine which funds tree-planting with its ad revenue, financed the round and said it’s the beginning of a larger initiative to support green energy companies and projects.
- Celebrities also love sustainability startups. Hollywood actor Natalie Portman invested in French vegan bacon startup La Vie as part of its €25m Series A. It’s the largest single alt protein raise for a French company to date. Its French competitors include alt foie gras startup Gourmey, which raised $10m last July. La Vie says that its product needs 88% less CO2 and water than traditional bacon. Its partners include French supermarket chain Carrefour, Burger King France and poké chain Pokawa.
- Investors have cosied up to alternative protein startups in the past few years, but some subsectors like alternative eggs haven't had as much love… until now. In the past few months, we’ve seen Finnish startup Onego Bio — which produces egg whites in a precision fermentation process — raise €10m in seed funding from Agronomics and Maki VC. Meanwhile, the founders of Soundcloud, Gorillas and Just Spices backed Berlin-based Perfeggt, which makes a plant-based liquid egg from field bean protein. It extended its seed round in March, bringing the total raised up to $4m.
- Mycorena, a Swedish startup developing a fungi-based fat for use in alt protein products, raised the biggest Nordic alt protein Series A of $26.8m. It’s currently building a production plant in Falkenberg, Sweden, which is due to be completed next year.
- In January German startup HeyCharge, which is developing EV charging points with Bluetooth connectivity, raised $4.7m in seed funding. The round was led by BMW i Ventures, the VC arm of BMW Group.
- London-based Climate X, an analytics platform which shows the risk posed by extreme weather events, raised a £4.1m seed round. As the risk of extreme weather events increases, more startups are working on climate analytics — the largest is UK-based Cervest, which raised $30m last year.