European tech startups and scaleups to watch in 2021

Europe’s startup scene is often overshadowed by Silicon Valley, but the continent is gaining ground with more than 70 tech startups valued at over $1bn.

Europe’s startup scene is often overshadowed by Silicon Valley, but the continent is gaining ground with more than 70 tech startups valued at over $1bn.

Here, Sifted’s reporters dig into the data, strategy and challenges behind the most important European startups and scaleups. We ask which companies are making waves and which are the ones to watch in 2021?

Keep reading below and stay informed about Europe’s new economy!

For in-depth analysis of the French tech ecosystem, dive into our recent report here.

(P.S The data is from European Startups with valuation estimates from Dealroom. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong, please let us know by email at [email protected]).

Key

Year founded

Amount raised

Last funding round

Valuation

Employees

Ynsect's logo

Ynsect

Transforms insects into nutrient resource for agriculture

food / innovative food; agritech

ynsect.com

Évry, France

2011

€214m

DEBT

€500-750m

100-500

Sifted Take

Growing global demand for food is putting a squeeze on available land and one French start-up says it has the answer: Indoor insect farming.

Ynsect in 2020 raised $224m from investors including Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition this month to build a second insect farm in Amiens in northern France.

The company breeds mealworms that produce proteins for livestock, pet food and fertilizers, and will use the funds to build what it says will be the world’s largest insect farm.

The idea of eating bugs has been getting some consumer traction with a few supermarkets stocking grub based food. But Ÿnsect has its sights mainly on the more prosaic $500bn animal feed market at the moment.

The challenge for Ynsect is regulation (weirdly the rules on what animals are allowed to eat are even stricter than the ones for humans) but also economics, as for now it’s reasonably expensive as a protein source.

Ÿnsect’s market at the moment is mainly hypoallergenic dog food because pampered pets are an area where the cost of the product is less of a consideration.

Further reading: Ynsect CEO Antoine Hubert on entrepreneurship & edible insects

Insect-farming startup Ÿnsect extends Series C funding to $372m

Darktrace's logo

Darktrace

Provides enterprise immune system technology for cyber security

security / cybersecurity

darktrace.com/en

Cambridge, UK

2013

€210m

SERIES E

€1.5bn

1000-5000

Sifted Take

One of the only companies on this list with a female CEO (Poppy Gustafsson), cybersecurity scaleup Darktrace was founded in 2013 by a group of ex-Autonomy executives. Its system detects and takes action against cyber threats and the company is reported to be preparing for an IPO.

Read more: Cybersecurity startups come to the rescue

Raisin's logo

Raisin

Pan-European marketplace for savings

fintech / investing

raisin.com

Berlin, Germany

2013

€205m

SECONDARY

€400-600m

100-500

Sifted Take

The Berlin-based startup Raisin officially launched in 2013, offering savers the chance to deposit money into accounts with the best interest rates across Europe.

Now it is so much more, thanks in part to an acquisition-heavy strategy that has seen it expand into a wider range of financial products. In 2018, the company expanded into longer-term investments thanks to a partnership with Vanguard and in 2019 it bought pension specialist Fairr.

Raisin says it considered building its own pensions product but concluded it would take two to three years to do. Fairr, founded in 2013, has already developed a dashboard to make the complex German pensions system easier for customers to understand. Fairr was the second acquisition for Raisin in 2019, following the acquisition of MHP-Bank in March.

The company, which is led by Tamaz Georgadze, is feeling pretty plump with cash after raising €25m from Goldman Sachs in August 2019 on top of a €100m Series D round three months before.

Further reading: Raisin eyes acquisitions after raising €25m from Goldman Sachs

Raisin gives an insight into its business figures for the first time ever

Infarm's logo

Infarm

Is an urban farming services company that develops farming tech for grocery stores, restaurants, and local distribution centres

food / agritech

infarm.com

Berlin, Germany

2012

€248m

SERIES C

€309-464m

100-500

Sifted Take

Berlin-based startup Infarm makes modular vertical farms which can be put in places such as grocery stores, restaurants, shopping centres and schools.

Led by Erez Galonska, the idea is that consumers can actually pick fresh produce such as tomatoes or lettuce themselves, which has proved popular.

The company is super-well financed, with investors including LGT Lightstone, Hanaco, Bonnier, Haniel, Latitude, Atomico, TriplePoint Capital, Mons Capital and Astanor Ventures.

It has already won deals with big supermarkets such as Casino, Intermarche and Auchan as well as Amazon fresh in Germany, Switzerland, and France – now it’s looking for more in the UK and the US and beyond.

The bigger picture here, says the company, is that eco-conscious consumers are increasingly going to want to get their fresh produce locally — and nothing is more local than having the actual farm itself in your nearest supermarket.

Can vertical farming grow beyond herbs and leaves?

Vertical farming startup Infarm raises $170m

Numbrs's logo

Numbrs

A customer-centric financial services company that enables customers to manage their existing bank accounts and personal finances

Zurich, Switzerland

2014

€205m

LATE VC

€909m

50-100

Sifted Take

Rather than deal with a gazillion banking apps, Numbrs helps customers (mostly in Germany, for now) apply for bank accounts, credit cards, loans and insurance from a range of partners — including Barclaycard, Postbank, Santander, Allianz and AXA — from its app. It launched in the UK in 2020.

Gousto's logo

Gousto

An online meal-kit manufacturer and retailer, using AI and automation to provide extensive choice and personalisation

food / food logistics & delivery

gousto.co.uk

London, UK

2012

€189m

SERIES F

€924m

100-500

Sifted Take

Recipe box company Gousto has had a good year.

Every month, Gousto delivers 5m meals to people across the UK. Customers give it 4.8 stars on the Google Play Store and 4.5 stars on Trustpilot. It’s currently doubling the size of its team — from 1,000 today to 2,000 by 2022 — and in the first six months of 2020 the company surpassed the £83m in revenues it made in 2019. It’s already profitable, and has been for a year.

Read more: Meal kit company Gousto becomes UK's latest unicorn

Infobip's logo

Infobip

Full-stack communications platform as a service, with private cloud infrastructure and zero-hop connectivity to telecoms globally

marketing / enterprise software

infobip.com

London, UK

2006

€182m

SERIES A

€909m

1000-5000

Sifted Take

Infobip is one of those big companies that no one has heard of but everyone has used. If you’ve ever received a message from your bank, or from Facebook or Uber, you’ve used Infobip.

Read more: Infobip is Europe’s latest unicorn — next step, an IPO

Voodoo's logo

Voodoo

Casual games developer for mobile

gaming / mobile gaming

voodoo.io

Paris, France

2013

€182m

GROWTH EQUITY

€1.3bn

100-500

Sifted Take

It didn't always look like games company Voodoo was going to be a smash hit: for its first few years, it only had two games and neither were doing very well.

Now its 'hyper-casual' games have been downloaded over 2bn times, it has raised money from Goldman Sachs and Tencent and is expanding into Asia.

Read more: The video game startups on Tencent’s Europe list

Deposit Solutions's logo

Deposit Solutions

The open archiecture platform for retail deposits

Hamburg, Germany

2011

€171m

SERIES E

€1bn

100-500

Sifted Take

Deposit Solutions' software allows banks to build up their balance sheets by offering savings products to external customers. This saves banks having to set up new infrastructure, and allows customers to access better products without setting up a new account. Banks pay Deposit Solutions a margin on each deposit, using its banking as a service platform.

The Hamburg-based company became Germany’s second most highly-valued fintech in September 2019 after Deutsche Bank reportedly paid €50m for a 4.9% stake.

Today, Deposit Solutions is well on its way to becoming a central player in Europe’s financial landscape. Since its founding, the startup has moved more than €25bn between accounts via its open banking rails, linking its software into 150 banks and over hundreds of thousands of customers accounts.

The next step is to take on America’s $12,000bn domestic deposit market. Deposit Solutions is another one of Peter Thiel’s European investments.

TrueLayer's logo

TrueLayer

Simple Bank APIs

fintech / enterprise software

truelayer.com

London, UK

2016

€159m

SERIES C

€159m

100-500

Trustpilot's logo

Trustpilot

Global, online review community that enables individuals to review and discover companies

media; marketing / social media

trustpilot.com

Copenhagen, Denmark

2007

€162m

SERIES E

€200-300m

500-1000

Volocopter's logo

Volocopter

Manned, fully electric and safe VTOL

robotics / AI

volocopter.com/en

Bruchsal, Germany

2011

€380m

SERIES C

Hopin's logo

Hopin

The first all-in-one live online events platform where attendees can learn, interact and connect

events /

hopin.com

London, UK

2019

€520m

SERIES B

€1.9bn

100-500

Sifted Take

The epitome of the Covid-boosted rocket ship, online events platform Hopin gained its spot on Europe's unicorn list just eight months after launch.

Towards the end of 2020, it is also Europe's fastest-growing company — but will it be able to sustain that growth as vaccines (hopefully) get rolled out in 2021 and some events, perhaps, return to physical venues?

Read more: Online events startup Hopin hits $2.1bn valuation just 8 months after launch

Tide's logo

Tide

The nimble small business current account

fintech / banking

tide.co

London, UK

2015

€156m

SERIES B

€212-318m

100-500

Rapyd's logo

Rapyd

Global commerce without borders

fintech / payments

rapyd.net

London, United Kingdom

2016

€427m

SERIES C

€1.1bn

100-500

Sifted Take

Payments startup Rapyd is living up to its name: in just a few years, it has raised round after round of funding, and in 2019 CEO Arik Shtilman said the volume of payments on the platform grew by more than 500%.

Its platform helps businesses take payments from over 100 countries, via almost 1000 payment methods. Investors include Stripe, General Catalyst and Target Global.

Nutmeg's logo

Nutmeg

The smart, secure and straightforward online discretionary investment manager

fintech / investing

nutmeg.com

London, UK

2010

€139m

LATE VC

€228m

100-500

Thought Machine's logo

Thought Machine

Thought Machine builds cloud native technology to revolutionise banking

fintech / cloud computing

thoughtmachine.net

London, UK

2014

€139m

SERIES B

docplanner's logo

docplanner

Healthcare booking marketplace and SaaS

health / health platform

docplanner.com

Warsaw, Poland

2011

€126m

SERIES E

€320-480m

100-500

Sifted Take

Docplanner is a Polish medical booking platform with two main offerings. First is a consumer-facing marketplace and reviews site for booking doctor appointments online; and the second is cloud software for healthcare providers to digitise their operations.

Docplanner, which is set to go head to head with France’s better-funded Doctorlib, has operations in Poland, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Brazil, and has been focusing on rapid growth in Latin American markets over the last few years. It employs more than 1000 people.

Further reading: Docplanner and Doctolib are heading for a face-off

In numbers: Europe’s healthtech industry in 2020

Receipt Bank's logo

Receipt Bank

A pre-accounting and remote working tool for accountants and bookkeepers

fintech; enterprise software / financial management solutions

receipt-bank.com

London, UK

2010

€125m

SERIES C

€264-396m

100-500

Iceye's logo

Iceye

Develops micro-satellites used to capture images from space; the Aalto University spin-off

robotics / AI

iceye.com

Espoo, Finland

2015

€123m

SERIES C

Sifted Take

The Finnish space startup is expected to have a stellar 2021 with the acquisition of eight new spacecraft. It’s unique in its SAR microsatellites imaging capabilities, launching the first in 2018, but has failed to garner interest from European governments — instead focusing on North and South American governments for whom its collected imagery after natural and anthropogenic disasters, like oil spills.

Newspace Capital, Seraphim Capital, Draper Associates and Space Angels are amongst its key investors.

Read more: Iceye raises €74m to lead in communication from space

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