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Startups: economic superpower Europe

Europe is strengthening its position on the global map of startups, becoming a global superpower in the production of unicorns, i.e. startups with a value of more than $1 billion.

Europe is becoming a global superpower in the production of unicorns, strengthening its position on the global startup map.

These are start-ups with a value of more than USD 1 billion.

More specifically, since the beginning of 2021,72 new unicorns have been created on Europeansoil, three times more than in China in the same period (22 such companies have been acquired by China since the beginning of the year).

According to new Dealroom data, this means that for the first time since 2016, Europe is ahead of China in terms of the number of unicorns, the existence of which is indicative of a healthy and dynamic start-up ecosystem in the region.

However, the US still maintains its lead in creating new unicorns, having created 275 unicorns this year alone – almost as many as Europe has created in the last 3 decades. Since 1990, Europe has created 296 companies worth over $1 billion, China has created 276 in total, while the US has created 1,000+ unicorns.

Moreover, it is no coincidence that of the 170 cities in the world considered to be predominantly unicorn birthplaces, 65 are in Europe.

Europe is also the fastest growing region for VC investment globally, having attracted €49 billion of investment to date since the beginning of the year, outpacing China, the US and all of Asia.
“The increase in investment we are seeing today is the result of the systematic work done over the past decade in Europe. International investors have taken notice and we are seeing huge interest in technology companies – and beyond – based on the Old Continent,” according to a Crunchbase analysis.

As the same analysis points out, the region has produced tech giants such as Adyen and Spotify, which have exceeded $50bn in market capitalisation, and also boasts significant exits such as those of Wise, Deliveroo and Trustpilot.


Europe saw historically high levels of funding from Venture Capitals (VCs) in H1 2021. European startups received the lion’s share of investment funds in the 2021 period under review. Indeed, funding is now spreading outside the top three economies: UK, Germany and France.

In percentage terms, European startups attracted 20% of global capital, up from around 14% in the same period in 2019. “Europe is really at a turning point. The tech ecosystem is maturing and closing the gap with the US, with the growth rate we are experiencing now unprecedented,” the analysts said.

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