Meet the European deeptech unicorns |  Thames

Meet the European deeptech unicorns | Thames

Despite the economic downturn, Europe’s tech sector continues to grow – with startups across the continent on track to harvest much more in 2022 than even the heady days of 2021. This year has already seen a few new deeptech entries into the unicorn club, including robotics company Exotec and flying taxi startup Volocopter.

In total, there are now 18 deeptech unicorns across Europe, according to Dealroom data for startups founded in 2010 or later, with a confirmed valuation of over $1 billion.

The UK has the most unicorns, with five. It is closely followed by Germany, which has four, and Sweden and France, with three unicorns each.

Unsurprisingly, most of these unicorns are found in the artificial intelligence industry – who is the better funded within deeptech. There are also a few unicorns in the energy and robotics sectors.

The list also reveals that women are hugely underrepresented in deeptech – none of these companies have a female CEO. This reflects the large diversity problem observed through the C suite of the wider European technology sector.

So who are unicorns?

Celonis

What: Celonis is a process mining company that helps companies optimize their business processes using artificial intelligence. Its customers include well-known companies such as Vodafone, Uber, BMW, Airbus and Siemens.

Where: Munich, Germany

Evaluation: €13 billion

Notable investors: HSBC, Accel, 83 North

Northvolt

What: Northvolt manufactures batteries for electric vehicles that have an 80% lower carbon footprint than the batteries that most electric vehicles currently use. The company broke the record for Europe’s largest deeptech tower last year, at 2.8 billion eurosand was attract talent from Blue Origin and Tesla to Sweden.

Where: Stockholm, Sweden

Evaluation: €12 billion

Notable investors: Goldman Sachs, KfW, Baillie Gifford

Unlikely

The Unlikely CEO and Co-Founder Herman Narula

What:Improbable is a metaverse game company that creates simulated virtual worlds using artificial intelligence. The company works on a metaverse platform that aims to be more democratic and decentralized than that of Meta, and it raised a $100 million round at a $3 billion valuation earlier this month.

Where: London, UK

Evaluation: €3.4 billion

Notable investors: Andreessen Horowitz, SoftBank

CMR Surgical

What: CMR Surgical has developed a robot capable of performing high-precision surgeries with a minimum of incisions. The technology has been used to perform over 5,000 surgeries worldwide.

Where: Cambridge, UK

Evaluation: €3 billion

Notable investors: LGT Capital Partners, Cambridge Innovation Capital

Graphcore

Nigel Toon and Simon Knowles, founders of Graphcore
Nigel Toon and Simon Knowles, founders of Graphcore

What: Graphcore manufactures microprocessors specially designed for artificial intelligence calculations. The company plans to build a supercomputer more powerful than the human brain in the next two years.

Where: Bristol, UK

Evaluation: €2.4 billion

Notable investors: Amadeus Capital Partners, Molten Ventures, Atomico

OCSiAl Band

What: OCSiAl is a low-cost manufacturer of graphene nanotubes, which are used to improve materials in a wide range of industries, including electric batteries, mobility, aerospace, and oil and gas.

Where: Luxemburg

Evaluation: €2 billion

Notable investors: Da Vinci Capital, ExpoCapital

Exotec

Skypod Exotec
Exotec’s Skypod warehouse robots

What: Exotec manufactures robots that automate warehouse storage management. The company has become France’s fourth unicorn in January 2022.

Where: Lille, France

Evaluation: €2 billion

Notable investors: IRIS, 360 Capital Partners

Volocopter

Volocopter flight over Singapore
Volocopter’s flying taxi

What: Volocopter wants to bring electric flying taxis to cities around the world. The company hiring former Airbus executive Dirk Hoke as CEO earlier this year and plans to operate during the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Where: Bruchsal, Germany

Evaluation: €1.7 billion

Notable investors: Lucasz Gadowski, btov Partners

To know

What: Cognite uses machine learning technology to support decision making, remote operations, and automation in industries such as oil and gas, power, and manufacturing.

Where: Oslo, Norway

Evaluation: €1.6 billion

Notable investors: Accel, Saudi Arabia

MindMaze

What: MindMaze has developed a virtual reality interface that can be used to rehabilitate patients who have lost motor or cognitive functions due to injury or disease.

Where: Lausanne, Switzerland

Evaluation: €1.5 billion

Notable investors: AlbaCore Capital, Leonardo DiCaprio

Einride

Photo of Robert Falck, Founder of Einride, for Sifted's list of technology innovators
Robert Falck, founder of Einride

What: Einride manufactures electric and driverless vehicles. Its freight trucks are used in Sweden and the United States, and the company recently announced its expansion in Germany.

Where: Stockholm, Sweden

Evaluation: €1.4 billion

Notable investors: Northzone, EQT Ventures, Norrsken VC

Newcleo

Stefano Buono, founder of Newcleo

What: Newcleo develops significantly smaller nuclear power plants than those we use today, which significantly reduces initial costs. The company raised €300m in June 2022 which will move towards the use of nuclear waste as fuel for its new generation reactors.

Where: London, UK

Evaluation: €1.3bn-€2bn

Notable investors: Seeds of Exor, LIFT

Polarium

What: Polarium manufactures lithium batteries that reduce the cost and environmental footprint of energy storage in all sectors, including telecommunications, electric vehicles and solar energy.

Where: Stockholm, Sweden

Evaluation: €1.2 billion

Notable investors: AMF, Roosgruppen

Agile robots

What: Agile Robots is a spin-off from the German Aerospace Center that builds intelligent robots that can see, move, sense forces and adapt to unfamiliar environments. The startup became Germany’s first robotic unicorn in September 2021.

Where: Munich, Germany

Evaluation: €1 billion

Notable investors: Sequoia Capital, linear companies

dental monitoring

What: DentalMonitoring uses artificial intelligence to help dentists and orthodontists monitor their patients remotely. The company became the world’s first dental software unicorn in October 2021.

Where: Paris, France

Evaluation: €1 billion

Notable investors: Vitruvian Partners, Mérieux Equity Partners

Docile

What: Tractable is an insurtech that helps insurance companies process claims faster by using computer vision to assess images of car damage. The company achieve unicorn status in June 2021.

Where: London, UK

Evaluation: €1bn

Notable investors: Insight Partners, Zetta Venture Partners, Ignition Partners

Closed

An image of the interior of an Infarm Vertical Farming Lab
Infarm’s Bedford Warehouse

What: Infarm manufactures vertical agricultural warehouses, which use 95% less water and land than traditional agriculture. The company recently opened its largest grow facility again in Bedford, UK.

Where: Berlin, Germany

Evaluation: €1bn

Notable investors: Atomico, Balderton Capital, Bonnier Ventures

Shift Technology

What: Shift Technology has developed an artificial intelligence platform that automates and optimizes decision-making for insurance companies.

Where: Paris, France

Evaluation: €1bn

Notable investors: Accel, Bessemer Venture Partners, Elaia Partners

According to Dealroom, H2 Green Steel and Wayve are potential European deeptech unicorns, with a valuation ranging from $800 million to $1.3 billion. They were not included in this list because their unicorn status is unconfirmed.

Clara Rodríguez Fernández is Sifted’s Berlin-based deeptech correspondent. Follow her on LinkedIn here.

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