Europe makes unicorns at almost twice the rate of the US, report finds

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Europe finally has all the pieces in place to challenge the US as the world’s leading tech hub, according to an analysis from venture capital firm Creandum and Dealroom, released today. 

Europe’s total number of unicorns has grown 88% compared to the US’ 56% since 2014. Moreover, its share of global VC funding has quadrupled in the last 20 years — the continent now takes more than a third of global investments at early-stage.

According to the report, Europe has the highest density of tech unicorn cities globally — with 514 companies valued at $1bn or more spread across 65 cities in 25 countries. These include fintechs like Adyen, Revolut, Klarna, Pleo and iZettle; digital health startups like Kry and Doctolib; and enterprise software startups like Factorial, Personio, and UiPath.

“In just 20 years, Europe has gone from being an outsider to a global challenger,” said Staffan Helgesson, general partner at Creandum — the first VC to invest in European success story Spotify. 

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While Europe is clearly doing a good job at producing world-leading companies, its biggest strength lies in emerging sectors like fintech, quantum computing, and climate tech, says the report. It already accounts for around a third of global funding in these key emerging industries, while the continent is home to half of the world’s top science clusters focused on these sectors. 

Climate tech especially has remained a key growth area despite the venture downturn, with 22% of total European funding going into climate tech in 2023 versus 7% for the US. Given that the climate transition is poised to transform industries, Europe’s strength in this sector alone presents a “huge opportunity” in the years to come, says the report. 

“We’re confident that in the next 20 years, Europe can take the lead in emerging tech sectors, including digital health, climate tech, fintech, and AI, that are critical to our economies and lives,” said Helgesson.

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