“The European tech scene is growing faster than almost anywhere else in the world”

European tech continued its growth in 2020 despite the pandemic, as venture capital carried on investing into the region. The tech ecosystem has expanded to almost $1 trillion (€824.4 billion) in combined value, up five-fold from 2016. We now have 115 VC-backed companies valued at over $1B (€824.4 million). Moreover, institutional investors from Europe and from around the world invested three times more money into Europe’s tech industry compared to 2015. 

2020 has also shifted focus to purpose. Purpose-driven companies — including the energy, foodtech and agtech space — have attracted record levels of investment. Over the last five years, investment in environmentally-focused technologies grew at five times the rate of traditional VC investments.

But what do we need to do to keep up with this pace? Is it about finding paths to liquidity that benefit investors while retaining world-class talent? Should we focus on climate exchange, or do more on diversity and inclusion? To find out more, we’ve reached out to one of Europe’s best known VCs, Octopus Ventures and to their newly appointed co-CEO Emma Davies.

Thank you for joining us, Emma. You have more than 20 years experience as an investor and portfolio manager. That is an impressive track record. What made you choose this career path? 

My first job was in Telco Equity Research at JP Morgan. I had a brilliant boss who took me to every single meeting, which opened my eyes to the endless learning opportunities that being an Investor offered. It was amazing to have a job that allowed me to delve into the minds of experienced management teams and not only learn the key drivers of different sectors, but also gain insights into the complexity of management and the importance of corporate culture. 

What are in your opinion the most important differences between North American and European tech startups? Are there some ingredients missing in Europe?

Looking back, we can see that US entrepreneurs have benefitted from the size of their country, where a killer consumer or B2B proposition translated into meaningful growth very quickly in a large domestic market. However, in today’s world, lots of the technology first developed in Silicon Valley now enables companies to grow across borders and continents, meaning that the country of a startup’s ‘birth’ is far less relevant now. Global businesses can be built from anywhere. 

If you want to read the full interview, check the full article published on Eu-Startups.com. They have very different backgrounds, pursued career paths or industries they are performing in.

Until next time, stay safe and think positive.

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