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Lockdown proves that technology will appeal to growth investors




The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the economy and healthcare system closer to collapse, but the ability of fast-growing companies to power and make money remains a bit undiminished.

Investors are in the low interest rate market, except last year when the country’s blockade was first imposed and companies competed to assess their impact on the world’s economies.

“In March, the venture community panicked for months as it scrambled to increase its portfolio cash balance, but the Fed and the central bank actively supported the market to approach risk. It’s completely changed, “says Toby Copper. Co-founder of the venture capital firm Mosaic Ventures.

“Since July, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of new money … Chasing growth means that valuations have increased significantly across the board,” he explains. To do.

The FT-Statista ranking of Europe’s fastest growing companies, which assesses revenue growth in 2016-19, does not show the pandemic impact on these businesses. Instead, it shows companies and founders entering 2020 with strong support. But the success of many of the companies on the list, before and after, depends more than just financial strength.

In many cases, pandemics have changed the way the world uses technology, spurring everyday use by people trapped in their homes while many niche innovations are blocked.

“We are in the golden age of European technology,” says Tommy Stadlen, co-founder of venture capital fund Giant. Tailwind International is a special purpose acquisition company that lists European technology groups in the United States last month.

He says that such a fast-growing company has “answers to many problems” raised by the pandemic, which has led to technology that “penetrates the wider world.”

He cites the rapid adoption of telemedicine and video conferencing. “It took 10 years, but it happened in 12 months,” he adds, adding that startups have grown from zero to multi-billion dollar valuations in less than two years.

Erin Platts, head of Emea at Silicon Valley Bank, a US-based lender, said that in addition to enterprise software and collaboration tools, education and healthcare technologies are also growing strongly. Again, it’s partly due to pandemic-led habit changes.

Erin Platts, Head of Emea at SVB

Gerard Grech, CEO of TechNation, a government-sponsored organization that supports British entrepreneurs, claims that some sectors are undergoing the same kind of transformation that FinTech has made after the financial crisis. To do.

“We are in a humanitarian crisis, which means people are thinking differently,” he says. This month’s TechNation annual report showed that investment in the UK reached a record $ 15 billion in 2020, despite the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit.

Tech is also the largest sector in the FT1000 ranking, accounting for 22% of entries, but this year’s list shows that fast-growing companies are emerging in other industries as well. Next to technology, construction and retail were the largest sectors of enterprises.

Glenker Construction is the fourth fastest growing company. We are developing a distribution warehouse and building the UK’s first vaccine manufacturing and innovation center. Other top entries include Chilly’s, a maker of fashionable reusable bottles, and Happybrush, a toothbrush maker.

As companies step up their zero-carbon program ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this fall, some of the ones on the list will offer renewable energy services and hardware.

Bulb Energy, a six-year-old energy provider that claims to provide 100% renewable energy, joined the list for the first time, going straight to the top, and rival Octopus Energy also ranked in the top 25.

Octopus founder Greg Jackson states that the business continues to “exponentially grow” up to and throughout the pandemic. “We are at the intersection of two [booming] “The fields of energy and technology,” he says.


Octopus raised funds last year from Tokyo Gas and Origin Energy, a large energy group in Japan and Australia. “There was a line of investors,” says Jackson. “London has long been a FinTech hub, but energy technology is just as powerful. The same theme underpins both. Tight regulations, the need for big data to increase efficiency, and inadequate service. It’s an excessive consumer. “

Charlie Jardine, CEO of EO Charging, which provides charging points for electric vehicles and is ranked 27th on the list, agrees that an inflection point in energy technology has arrived. He points out the prospect of further growth over the next few years, given that “companies are committed to electric fleets between 2030 and 1940.”

He expects the EO to be in the black last year and remain “the economics of EVs are piled up” for both consumers and fleets.

Light bulbs, octopuses and EOs are all based in the UK, but are growing elsewhere. Jackson and Jardin say Britain is the best place in the world for a destructive energy company.

“Government is doing a good job of laying the foundation, but the market is growing regardless of government support,” says EO Jardin.

Hamburg and Stockholm are new entrants to the top 10 cities by number of companies. And for the first time, Italy is the country with the most entries, 269, followed by Germany and France. Giant’s Stadlen states that this is partly due to the Italian industry’s direct investment in the country’s start-ups.


The UK is fourth this year, but London is the number one city with the fastest growing companies, with 71 on the list and 36 of its closest rivals Paris and Milan are 45.

Still, given that many tech founders have stated that Brexit-related restrictions, such as the free movement of skilled talent, have made the UK less attractive, the UK has fallen from third place in last year’s rankings. That is a potential concern.

Ian Connatty, managing director of British Patient Capital, a state-backed investor, said the UK has successfully created technology clusters outside London, but the pandemic has discovered a new company. Given their capabilities, they also raise “serious problems” about where they need to be based. Build operations virtually.

The UK Government is taking steps to address these concerns by providing new technology visas for EU workers and incentives to help build and maintain promising businesses.

SVB Platts points out the importance of future reforms and other support measures in the UK listing system to ensure that the UK remains an attractive environment for investment and skilled workers.

“The UK is by far the most mature ecosystem in Europe and we are witnessing the emergence of stable market leaders as the UK becomes an innovation hub for expanding the size of fast-growing companies.” She says. “We launch a really great company, but we need to make sure it goes through the entire life cycle to recycle capital and talent and drive the creation of a new company.”

More broadly, the question is whether the entire tech sector can sustain such rapid growth — in terms of valuation and funding rounds, if nothing else.

“Is it going to end badly? Top? I’ve never seen anything like this in my 25-year career in tech investment,” says Mosaic’s Copper. “But nevertheless, transformative companies start with a boom and bust, and we can’t predict when the next Alibaba will come.”

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