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

Soldo's logo

Soldo

Take control of company spending with Soldo, the prepaid Mastercard® that does your expenses for you

fintech / payments; financial management solutions

soldo.com

London, UK

2014

€70m

SERIES B

€216-324m

100-500

Oxbotica's logo

Oxbotica

Autonomous control and fleet management software

robotics / machine learning

oxbotica.com

Oxford, UK

2014

€82m

SERIES B

Peakon's logo

Peakon

Measures and evaluates employees' engagement and satisfaction

jobs recruitment; enterprise software /

peakon.com

London, UK

2015

€67m

LATE VC

€143-215m

100-500

Spotahome's logo

Spotahome

Medium-to-long term rentals for expats such as students and professionals

real estate / search, buy & rent

spotahome.com

Madrid, Spain

2014

€64m

SERIES B

€145-218m

100-500

Curve's logo

Curve

Payments card that aggregates all user bank cards

fintech / payments

curve.com

London, UK

2015

€175m

SERIES C

€227m

100-500

Sifted Take

No more dense wallets. Curve consolidates all your bank cards into one card and one app, so users can choose to pay with any other card by simply swiping on their screen.

Their Series C round in January 2021 raised $95m, led by IDC Ventures, bring its total raised to $175m.

It's one of the UK's most valuable fintechs. Read all our coverage here

Brainly's logo

Brainly

The world’s largest social learning network for students, by students

education /

brainly.com

Kraków, Poland

2009

€135m

SERIES C

€108-162m

100-500

Sifted Take

With 350m users, Krakow-based Brainly has already become one of the world’s biggest online education technology platforms, making a healthy stab at disrupting the $2.6bn global education market with its distinctive ‘crowdlearning’ model.

It has won repeated investment from South African technology giant Naspers, who have been impressed by its rapid growth since 2009. Amazingly, in some countries such as Poland and Russia, more than 80% of students are on Brainly, according to the company. In the US it is 15-20%.

Students can go onto the Brainly platform to ask for help with homework questions, anything from how to work out an equation to advice on upcoming exams. Asking a question costs points, and users can earn more of these if they answer questions others have posted on the platform.

Michal Borkowski, Brainly’s cofounder and chief executive, tells Sifted that there is much more room to grow and they are aiming to reach 500m students. “There are more than one billion students in the world, and every student needs help with learning sometimes,” he says.

The question Brainly has to answer, however, is whether it can make money from its millions of users. The company has started experimenting with a freemium model in Poland and the US. This model has proved hard for others though. And Brainly is also up against some formidable firepower from US and Asian rivals.

Read more: Polish edtech company Brainly has 150m users – but can it make money?

Healx's logo

Healx

AI-powered and patient-inspired platform accelerating the discovery and development of rare disease treatments

health / biotech; health platform

healx.io

Cambridge, UK

2014

€62m

SERIES B

€204-305m

50-100

Spendesk's logo

Spendesk

Spendesk helps SMBs take control of their spending with smart company cards and a real-time payment tracking dashboard

fintech; enterprise software / payments; financial management solutions

spendesk.com

Paris, France

2016

€61m

SERIES B

€175m

100-500

Cambridge Quantum Computing's logo

Cambridge Quantum Computing

A pioneer in the research and development of powerful quantum technology

enterprise software /

cambridgequantum.com

London, UK

2014

€321m

SERIES A

Sifted Take

Last year, CQC made waves in the quantum community after announcing a cloud-based random number generating service and “meaning-aware” natural language processing — both of which are expected to push it into the very top of the worldwide market. It's certainly one to watch as viable and genuine quantum computing emerges.

TourRadar's logo

TourRadar

Online marketplace for group tours, enables travellers to filter search results according to their needs

travel / online travel agency

tourradar.com

Vienna, Austria

2010

€60m

SERIES C

€182-273m

100-500

Red Points's logo

Red Points

Smart solution for brand protection online

enterprise software / AI

redpoints.com

Barcelona, Spain

2011

€58m

SERIES C

WeTransfer's logo

WeTransfer

Cloud-based file transfer service based in Amsterdam designed to send small to large files

enterprise software /

wetransfer.com

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2009

€58m

SERIES B

€140-210m

100-500

Talent Garden's logo

Talent Garden

It helps entrepreneurs, freelancers & small businesses succeed by making them more connected with each other

workspace /

talentgarden.it

Milan, Italy

2011

€60m

SERIES B

€176-264m

100-500

FirstVet's logo

FirstVet

Digital veterinary clinic

marketplace & ecommerce / health

firstvet.com/sv

Stockholm, Sweden

2016

€56m

LATE VC

Sifted Take

Following in the steps (or pawprints) of HealthHero and Babylon Health, the telemedicine startup for vets and pets has dominated the market — doubling its active users in 2020, and it recently partnered with UK-based pet tracker PitPat to integrate multiple aspects of pet health.

Read more: Is IoT for pets about to take off?

The Babylon Health of pets raises €30m to go west

Paack's logo

Paack

Pioneering delivery solution for ecommerce, enabling customer controlled time-slots and sustainable vehicle distribution

logistics and delivery / marketplace & ecommerce

paack.co

Barcelona, Spain

2015

€73m

SERIES C

Huuuge Games's logo

Huuuge Games

Develops mobile casino games

gaming / mobile gaming; betting & gambling

huuugegames.com

Warszawa, Poland

2014

€53m

SERIES C

€182-273m

500-1000

Cleo's logo

Cleo

An intelligent assistant for your money

fintech / AI

meetcleo.com

London, UK

2016

€52m

SERIES B

Sifted Take

Cleo leads in the financial wellness niche, although it doesn't quite offer the whole nine yards, lacking tailored saving advice or hacks for users.

Freetrade's logo

Freetrade

Mobile app designed to let users invest in stock markets around the world, with zero commissions or fees

fintech / investing

freetrade.io

London, UK

2015

€70m

SERIES A

€22-32m

100-500

Duffel's logo

Duffel

Duffel is a travel-industry startup that aims to transform online travel booking

marketplace & ecommerce / travel

duffel.com

London, UK

2017

€51m

SERIES B

Sifted Take

Duffel may be set back by Covid-19, but prior to the pandemic it was set to transform the travel sector by integrating customisable flight add-on services in its business-to-business service. American Airlines and British Airways are just two of its clients.

Read more: Startup travel disrupter Duffel raises another $30m and finally comes out to stealth

iFarm's logo

iFarm

Indoor farming

agritech /

ifarm.fi

Vantaa, Finland

2017

€4m

SEED

10-50

Sifted Take

iFarm boasts sales of its vertical farming tech across 21 European and Middle Eastern countries, which can be installed almost anywhere — from the home to a restaurant. In August 2020, it raised €3.3m in a round led by previous investor Gagarin Capital. Read more: Can vertical farming grow beyond herbs and leaves?

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