In 2019 more than €1.4 billion was invested in Dutch startups and scale-ups by more than 290 different investors. What investors were most active?
We made a ranking of active investors based on the number of investments in Dutch startups and scale-ups they were involved in (first and follow-on rounds).
Some investors, like henQ, also invested in foreign companies such as Stravito (Sweden) and Aito (Finland) last year, but these deals were excluded from the list below. As a matter of fact, more and more Dutch investors are hunting for interesting companies outside of the Netherlands so I expect to see more foreign deals by Dutch investors in the next years. For example, Peak Capital is now also investing in Belgium and the Nordics with their new fund.
We further divided the investors in ‘venture capital investors’ (Series A+) and ‘seed investors’ (everything before Series A), including regional development agencies and angel(fund)s.
How active VCs are doesn’t necessarily imply that they are good investors as well, but I guess it does say something about their ability to find/ attract companies and convince founders to take their investment.
Without further ado, these were most active investors (based on number of deals):
Venture capital funds
VCs from all over the world — including US, New Zealand, UK, Scandinavia, and Germany — have invested in Dutch companies last year. They include the likes of top-tier VCs Benchmark ($20M Sketch), Kleiner Perkins ($2.4M CodeSandbox) and Index Ventures ($33M GeoPhy & €7M Otrium). As expected, foreign investors were mostly active in larger follow-on rounds (Series B+).
Value Creation (7 deals), Health Innovations (6 deals), Inkef Capital and henQ (both 5 deals) were the most active VCs in the Netherlands in 2019. henQ and Value Creation Capital are on a streak as they were among the most active investors in 2017 and 2018 too.
Value Creation Capital
Value Creation Capital manages two early-stage funds: TechNano Fund (aimed at hightech companies) and Security of Things Fund (targeting cyber security startups). With 7 deals VCC was the most active venture capital investor.
Aldebert Wiersinga, managing partner at Value Creation Capital, comments:
Unlike many other VCs, we are not actively hunting for potential unicorns. Obviously, we wouldn’t walk away from one but we don’t see it as a goal on itself. That just doesn’t fit our investment model, that is best described as a ‘private equity approach’ in the venture capital segment. We invest early and prefer a good, early exit where the company can continue its growth in a new context. Compared to other VCs, our portfolio therefore only has a very small number of ‘bleeders’. We always focus on predictable growth and manage to realise exits that provide us, and of course the founders, good returns. I think this is a unique approach to continuously create value, that also helps us to convince companies to work with us.
Investments of VCC in 2019 include robotics company SenseGlove (together with FORWARD.one), facial recognition startup 20face and blockchain infrastructure company Unchain.
Aldebert Wiersinga (Value Creation Capital): ‘Wij zijn niet op zoek naar de nieuwe unicorn’
Aldebert Wiersinga deelt o.a. zijn model om startups en scale-ups te kwalificeren en geeft advies aan founders die…
Health Innovations is investing out of its third fund, aimed at eHealth solutions that make healthcare better and more affordable. They did no less than 6 investments last year, including in healthcare marketplace Elanza and sleep app Shleep, and joined a consortium that invested in AI company DEARhealth.
Inkef targets both software and healthcare companies. Last year they invested in 5 Dutch companies, including Aidence (combination of software + healthcare), Calypso Biotech and the aforementioned GeoPhy. Inkef is what you could call a ‘social investor’ in the sense that they often co-invest with other VCs.
henQ has been active too (and again), also outside of the Netherlands. henQ invests in European B2B software companies. Regarding Dutch companies, henQ invested in Orderchamp, doubled-down on SendCloud, and joined Inkef in the Aidence deal.
Corporate venture capital
Corporates also invested more in startups and scale-ups. Sometimes on an ad hoc basis and sometimes out of their corporate venture capital fund. The most active corporates were Shell Ventures (3 deals), KPN Ventures and Philips Health Technology Ventures (2 deals each). Again, these are the investments in Dutch companies, so excluding the foreign investments and acquisitions these companies did.
Other noteworthy corporate venture capital deals were Airbnb (leading the $60M round in Tiqets), Calypso (attracted €20M from investors including Johnson & Johnson Innovation and M Ventures) and Nearfield Instruments (raised undisclosed Series B round from investors including Samsung).
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Just like previous years, regional development agencies are well represented in the list of active investors. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that BOM (Brabant), LBDF (Limburg) and UNIIQ (South-Holland) are in the top 5 most active seed investors. I do have to say that many seed deals are not publicly disclosed, so it could well be the case that some active other seed investors don’t appear in this ranking. A tip for seed investor that want to make it to our 2020 list: publish more deals and/or keep us updated about your investment activities!
There are two other seed investors that we want to draw some attention to as they are both quite new to the game: Innovatiefonds Noord-Holland and Antler.
Innovatiefonds Noord-Holland is obviously a regional fund and started late 2018. In 2019 they already have an impressive investment pace with 13 deals, especially if you consider that their team is relatively small (currently 5 people). They support SMEs with funds for Proof-of-Concept projects with the goal to attract follow-on investors and lead customers.
What’s their trick? Fund manager Wouter Keij explains:
As a new, independent fund we could back in 2018 freely choose how would set up our front and back office. We have opted for a complete digital environment. This gives enormous advantages in handling and assessing (also with third parties and experts) dealflow, it’s super efficient. What also helps is that we provide convertible loans (instead of taking a share) and therefore we do not have to worry about valuation or spend much time on legal documents. Looking to the number of deals we have closed in a short period of time, and without much scouting, it’s fair to say that the market was looking for a PoC fund. We run faster than planned and are now looking for additional funds.
Antler is also a new kid on the venture capital block. Positioning themselves as a global startup generator and early-stage VC in one, they had their first Amsterdam cohort last year. At the end of their program, 11 startups were generated that each received a bit over €100k in seed funding. Some of these companies, like Clear, also raised follow-on funding recently (€780k from Healthy.Capital, will be included in our 2020 analysis).
Interesting about the startups that graduated from Antler’s program is that 4 of them (so 36%) had at least one female co-founder. This is far, far above the average percentage of female leadership within the sample of startups that raised funding last year.
If you are an investor and you didn’t meet your objectives in terms of number of deals, don’t worry. We can help you to identify companies that are 1) relevant 2) good and 3) looking for funding. Give it a try and contact us.
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Again, I’m pretty sure we missed deals, especially from seed investors, so don’t be mad at us. Instead, share your investments with us so we can improve our dataset. Also, feel free to add your analysis or drop comments below.
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