Press release

8 Apr 2022

Financing of start-ups in Europe reaches record highs – Switzerland ranks first

Zurich, 04/08/2022 – The latest start-up barometer from the auditing and consulting company EY in Switzerland shows: The record hunt for Europe's start-ups continues

Related topics Financial Services
  • The number of financing rounds for European start-ups reached a high in 2021 with an increase of 25%
  • European start-ups receive more than €88 billion in venture capital, more than doubling in overall volume compared to 2020
  • Switzerland ranks fourth in Europe with more than 600 financing rounds
  • The volume of financing of more than 2700 million in Switzerland was primarily invested in pharmaceutical and biotech start-ups

Zurich, 04/08/2022 – The latest start-up barometer from the auditing and consulting company EY in Switzerland shows: The record hunt for Europe's start-ups continues. In 2021 venture capital investments worth €88.1 billion went to start-ups no more than ten years old. Compared to the previous year, this is a substantial 141 percent increase – and the largest sum ever invested within a year. By way of comparison: From 2018 to 2020 the sector totaled €88.9 billion. The number of financing rounds also increased and rose by 25 percent to 8,397.

Switzerland is in the top ranks

In terms of the financing rounds in 2021, Switzerland ranks fourth in Europe with 623 deals (previous year: 540). Only in the UK, Germany and France were more rounds of financing recorded. In total, €2,734 million in venture capital was invested in start-ups in Switzerland, up from €1,816 million in the previous year. This puts Switzerland in seventh place among European countries. In the European city ranking, Zurich achieved fifth place with 197 financing rounds, behind London, Berlin, Paris and Barcelona. Sascha Stahl, Head of Start-Ups and Family Business Leader at EY in Switzerland, said: "If you compare the number of financing operations to the size of our country, Switzerland is doing extremely well." He adds: "The results clearly show that there are an above-average number of innovative start-ups in Switzerland that are managing to convince investors of their business models."

The top financing rounds in Switzerland were achieved by the following start-ups: The pharmaceutical company Quercis Pharma in Zug (€130 million), the neurotherapy company MindMaze in Lausanne (€108 million), the biopharmaceutical start-up Anaveon in Bottmingen BS (€103 million), the cancer therapy company Numab in Wädenswil (€91 million) and Bright Peak Therapeutics in Basel, which specializes in cytokine therapies (€89 million). "The fact that the highest investments are being made in start-ups from the pharmaceutical, biotech and therapeutic sectors shows how strong Switzerland is in research areas with a high ‘unmet medical need’", says Susanne Weissbäcker, partner in the Health & Life Sciences market segment at strategy consulting firm EY-Parthenon.

London remains the start-up capital of Europe

The start-up capital of Europe remains London, with 1,557 financing rounds: The UK's capital city is by far number one in terms of the number of deals and on its own has almost as many rounds of financing as the next-ranked cities of Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Zurich and Stockholm combined. These give a total of 1,564 deals. Taken together, three out of ten European start-up deals were handled in London, Berlin and Paris.

The volume of investment is similar to that of the financing rounds: Here, too, London leads by far, with its total funding almost doubling compared to the previous year. With around €20.3 billion, more venture capital was invested in start-ups in London than in Berlin (€10.5 billion) and Paris (€9.3 billion) combined.

These three top locations achieved significant growth in 2021, with Berlin being particularly successful. This represents an increase of 243 percent for the past year. Paris ranks second with a 130 percent increase and London third with a 93 percent increase.

Susanne Weissbäcker comments on the reasons for the record figures: "2021 was marked by enormous investment pressure on the part of investors – the macroeconomic framework conditions of recent years led to unprecedented liquidity in the market, which had to be invested."

The first half of the year was even slightly stronger than the second: €45 billion compared to €43 billion. €88 billion of venture capital is a promising signal, but Stahl notes by way of comparison: "Compared to North America or Asia, it is still only a small amount." This also applies to a similar extent to Switzerland. "It is gratifying that the total amount invested in Swiss start-ups has risen by 50 percent in one year. But when you consider that there have been more than 600 financing deals in this country over the past year, the amount invested is relatively low."

Highest level of start-up financing in the first half of the year

The three largest start-up financing operations for the year took place in the first half of the year: The British veterinary medicine group IVC Evidensia raised almost €3.5 billion. Northvolt came in second place, with €2.28 billion being invested in the battery start-up from Sweden. The third place went to the Constellation Automotive Group from the UK, the online used car dealer was able to win €1.15 billion via investors.

One year after the completion of Brexit, the UK remains the main driver of the European start-up market: As in previous years, the majority of financing rounds took place there. 2,465 in 2021 – 2,113 a year earlier. 1,160 rounds of financing concluded was enough for Germany to take second place ahead of France, where 784 rounds were concluded.

The United Kingdom remains far ahead not only in the number of financing rounds, but also in the volume of venture capital financing: €31.4 billion means first place, ahead of Germany with €17.4 billion and France with €11.6 billion.