Startup & Scale-up Funding Analysis: What's Hot in the Netherlands?

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Last week, we wrote that Dutch tech startups and scale-ups raised close to €750 million in 2018 in part 1 of our funding analysis:

In this second part, we'll look at what's hot in the Netherlands; what are the popular cities and themes? And who are the most active investors?

Amsterdam is the capital of venture capital

Almost a third of all investments were in Amsterdam companies. Together they raised more than €380 million in growth capital. This is more than all other cities combined. Amsterdam-based scale-ups also accounted for the largest chunk of Series B — and later — rounds.

It's for a reason that Amsterdam was recently ranked as a top 5 tech city in the world.

Nevertheless, Amsterdam does not have an unambiguous profile. Amsterdam-based startups and scale-ups are strong in various areas. If you look at the top categories invested in, it ranges from online platforms and e-commerce to fintech and from medical devices to sustainability. Other cities are more specialized in one theme, like Delft is strong in high-tech topics.

Break-down of deals in Amsterdam

E-scooters, HR and impact startups are popular

Just like previous years, companies active in online platforms, Software-as-a-Service, fintech and biotechnology were popular with investors.

Themes that raised relatively much and often in 2018 were:

  • electric mobility (such as e-scooters and e-'steps')
  • 'deep tech '— such as artificial intelligence and blockchain
  • human resources/ recruitment
  • sustainability and impact
Popular themes in 2018

Electric mobility is becoming a red ocean

We suspect the investments in electric mobility are the result of different trends (shared ownership, sustainability, development of electric vehicles) combined with a winner-takes-all market. While these mobility solutions can be complementary, we expect strong competition for involved players to become the electric transportation solution.

Companies working with shared electric scooters and 'steps', such as felyx, dott and Etergo, are in a hot, yet more and more crowded market, and they need a lot of capital for product development and marketing. In order not to miss the boat, they aim to raise significant amounts from investors. And apparently they succeeded doing so last year.

Deep tech is further emerging

We were already expecting the increase in deep tech investments. In 2017, companies active in artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain were already emerging.

Last year, we saw even more companies in this market raise funding, including Kepler Vision Technologies, REXai and Bitfury.

We expect that the number of deep tech companies that raise investments will increase further in 2019 because the Netherlands has a strong position in this segment and investors love scalable technology with a strong competitive edge.

Innovation Industries is the most active VC

Investors from all over the world — including Taiwan, Japan, US, Germany, France, Scandinavia and Switzerland — have invested in Dutch companies last year. As expected, foreign investors were mostly active in larger follow-on rounds (Series B+).

In total, 93 different Dutch investors (excluding angel investors) did at least one deal last year.

Innovation Industries, a VC fund aimed at hightech companies that have their origins in Dutch technical universities, was the most active venture capital investor with no less than 7 deals.

When we ask Harm de Vries, General Partner of Innovation Industries, about their investment approach he says:

“We see a lot of interesting investment opportunities because of our collaboration with our partner institutes — the Dutch technical universities (Eindhoven, Twente, Delft and Wageningen) and applied research institute TNO. We also receive a nice deal flow from our network within the hightech industry.
It helps that we are open to different sectors and technologies, focusing on Dutch High Tech, MedTech and Agri-Food Tech companies, and that we invest in a broad range of development stages, from seed stage to scale up stage. By being able to make investments from €500k up to €30 million, we can single handedly finance a hightech startup to profitability. This is totally new approach for The Netherlands, which approach tech companies seem to appreciate.”
In January 2019 we had a first closing of our second fund of €150 mln. The coming months we will raise the remaining €100 mln so that we can continue our work and invest in many more Dutch tech companies."
Most active VCs in the Netherlands investing in Dutch companies

Other active VCs are henQ, Inkef Capital, Newion Investments, Value Creation Capital and Airbridge Equity Partners. Each of them was involved in 4 deals. Please note that some of these investors did deals outside of the Netherlands (e.g. Newion invested in Belgium-based PlayPass) but were not included in this overview.

Innovation Industries, Inkef, henQ and Value Creation Capital are on a streak as they were among the most active investors in 2017 too.

Seed investors are even more active (but more surreptitiously too)

Regarding seed investors, many regional development agencies even exceeded that number of deals. For example, LBDF, BOM and OostNL each did more than 10 deals. As many seed deals are not publicly disclosed, we didn't dare to present a full ranking here. If you work for a regional development agency, please keep us updated about your investment activities!

TU Delft and and TU/e largest suppliers of funded spin-offs

It's interesting to get a better understanding of where new knowledge-intensive companies have their origins. Obviously, some companies can bootstrap and some (especially in the hardware/ hightech domain) need funding to even get started.

Nevertheless, we find that TU Delft spin-offs did most deals and TU Eindhoven spin-offs raised most capital. Good to mention, most of these deals are Seed and Series A. Delft was great in raising early deals but terrible in raising follow-on rounds (Series B+) last year, with zero deals.

Interestingly, VU also did really well this year, but that can be fully attributed to the €16 million investment in VUMC spin-off Lava Therapeutics.

Conclusions

In this second blogpost we wanted to give you some more insights from our funding analysis. This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are many more interesting things to find in our dataset.

So what's hot in the Netherlands?

  • By far most deals and most capital were allocated to Amsterdam;
  • The usual suspects (online platforms, Software-as-a-Service, fintech and biotechnology) were again hot topics for investors;
  • E-scooters, deep tech, HR-tech and impact startups are relatively popular in 2018 compared to previous years;
  • Innovation Industries was the most active venture capital investor with no less than 7 deals. In 2017 they were one of the most active VCs too — thumbs up!
  • TU Delft spin-offs did most deals and TU Eindhoven spin-offs raised most capital — but follow-on rounds remain a challenge, especially for Delft-based companies.

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