Growth capital for Dutch startups structurally increasing, but still limited number of large rounds
Amsterdam, 25 January 2023 - In the fourth quarter of 2022, €600 million of venture capital was raised by Dutch startups, 25% more than in the third quarter, but less than in the same quarter last year (€760 million). A total of €2.6 billion was invested in Dutch startups in 2022. After the record year 2021 (€5.3 billion), 2022 is the best year ever measured. Investments were one and a half times higher than in 2020 (€1.7 billion). Taking into account the pre-Corona era, a long-term, structural growth in investments in Dutch startups can be observed. This is according to the Quarterly Startup Report, a quarterly data analysis by Dealroom.co, Golden Egg Check, KPMG, the Regional Development Companies (ROMs), the Dutch Association of Participation Companies (NVP), the Dutch Startup Association (dSa) and Techleap.nl.
The number of deals in 2022 remained the same as in the previous year at 415, but there was an increase in early-stage deals (less than €15 million) and a sharp decrease in late-stage deals (more than €15 million), from 57 to 37. This is due to the uncertainty in the (public) markets in 2022. The decline in larger rounds explains the sharp drop in total investment compared to the exceptional year of 2021. The large rounds raised by internationally successful Dutch scale-ups such as Mollie, Messagebird and Bunq came mainly from foreign investors. These funds have fallen back to early Corona levels in terms of participation. The Netherlands has few truly large local investment funds, leaving startups dependent on foreign parties for large rounds of growth capital.
The lack of competitive Dutch investment funds
The lack of large Dutch investment funds for start-ups is a recurring problem. The organisations behind this quarterly report are calling attention to this backlog and the resulting deterioration in the business climate. Not only are returns disappearing abroad, but the organisations are also concerned about the retention of innovative companies and key technologies in the Netherlands as a result. Dutch pension funds could play an important role in increasing the size of Dutch venture capital funds. This would also reduce the dependence of start-ups on large, mainly US-based funds.
End of the correction?
It is still too early to conclude that the startup economy has seen its biggest correction. However, there are signs in the market that activity is picking up. In addition to a large number of new funds, there is still a lot of uninvested money ("dry powder") available from Dutch funds. Structural growth in investment is expected to continue, following the current pattern of more early-stage, if sufficiently stimulated, and then more late-stage investment.
Encouragingly, investments are being made in the big challenges of our time, such as climate, energy, health and security. Climate start-ups were the most sought after by investors in last year's Grand Rounds. International regulations, public opinion and the challenges of the post-Corona era provide a solid breeding ground for a new, long-term wave of sustainable start-ups and investments, in which the role of Dutch funds and regulations will prove crucial to the extent to which the Netherlands benefits and regains its international competitive position and business climate.
Lucien Burm, chairman of the Dutch Startup Association, says: "The real economy is experiencing great uncertainties and scaleups are feeling this. Young startups are usually not yet profitable because of limited growth or turnover. Investment has therefore shifted more to the early stage. Local capital for follow-on start-ups therefore remains a major concern for the future; the Netherlands is too dependent on foreign capital. It is important that fiscal measures are put in place to encourage this and that institutional investors start to look at start-up funds as they focus on sustainable development; an area where start-ups can generate a lot of returns".
Maurice van Tilburg, Managing Director of Techleap.nl, says: "It is encouraging to see that despite the current economic challenges, there is still a structural increase in growth capital available for start-ups that provide solutions to the major societal challenges of our time. It says a lot about the importance and quality of these companies. To continue the growth and ensure that we continue to develop vital technology in our country in the future, we need more active participation from Dutch investors, such as pension funds. Both on their own and as part of a co-investment with foreign investors.