French gigafactory startup Verkor has closed an €850m Series C round and says it is on course to secure an additional €1.2bn of non-equity funding, making for a total €2bn in financing.
It’s the second largest equity round in Europe this year — after Swedish scaleup H2 Green Steel raised €1.5bn earlier this month — and a historical record for a French startup. The announcement also confirms earlier Sifted reporting.
The company, which launched in 2020, is building a gigafactory in Dunkirk in the north of France. Gigafactories are large-scale facilities manufacturing the batteries needed to power the green transition.
Macquarie Asset Management, which specialises in infrastructure and the energy transition, is leading the Series C, and infrastructure investor Meridiam is also taking a significant stake in the round. Returning investors include Renault Group, EQT Ventures, EIT InnoEnergy and Sibanye-Stillwater.
The €1.2bn of non-equity funding is made up of a €600m debt package from the European Investment Bank and French government subsidies of about €650m, primarily from the government’s “France 2030” plan, which has a strong focus on reindustrialisation. Both are still subject to final approval.
Three-year-old Verkor raised a first €100m round in 2021, followed by a €250m growth round in 2022. The company CEO Benoit Lemaignan told Sifted last June that he anticipated the project would need €1.2bn overall, not including the cost of labour.
A new gigafactory in the battery valley
Verkor has already grown to a team of 300 and has started construction at its 80-hectare site in Dunkirk. The gigafactory will manufacture low-carbon battery cells and is expected to be operational by 2025, at which point it will produce 16GWh of batteries every year. Verkor says that the facility will create 1,200 direct jobs.
It’s located in what has become known as France’s “battery valley” as Taiwan’s ProLogium, China’s Envision and Franco-German consortium ACC have all started gigafactory projects in the region.
Verkor investor Renault is also set to become the company’s first customer. In a 2021 deal, Renault took a 20% stake in the business and has agreed to buy 12GWh of production annually — enough to make up to 200k cars — from 2025 onwards.
Verkor has also built an “innovation centre” in Grenoble, where it’s got a team working on its battery tech and a pilot production line.
A new European champion
The new funding makes Verkor one of the best-funded gigafactory startups in Europe — second on the continent behind Sweden’s Northvolt, which raised a $1.2bn convertible note last August, bringing total funding to $6.7bn.
“We are now on track to becoming one of the leading European battery manufacturers,” said Lemaignan.
The company benefits from strong government support, with French president Emmanuel Macron himself taking to social media to announce the news.
“This new, historic fundraising for French tech, with the support of France 2030 resources, is a bold sign of our ambition for reindustrialisation,” said Macron.