The 100 Unicorns Born in EMEA In 2021

Startup scenes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are buzzing with activity, attracting…

Startup scenes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are buzzing with activity, attracting major venture capital investment this year that has led to the creation of close to 100 ‘unicorns’ — private companies with a valuation of at least $1 billion.

Often overshadowed by Silicon Valley, Europe is gaining momentum. According to a recent report from venture capital firm Atomico, the region is “solidifying its place as a global tech power,” with startups in the region on track to haul in a record $121 billion in funding this year, compared with $41 billion in 2020. This is also the first year that European startups have raised more than $100 million in a single year and the first time that total equity value of European technology companies has surpassed $3 trillion.

Atomico’s latest annual “State of European Tech Report” further revealed that Europe is now home to 321 unicorns, up from 223 in 2020. Of that number, 98 were minted this year, with the U.K. leading the pack with 29 unicorns, followed by Germany (23), France (15), Sweden (5) and the Netherlands (4).

Read also: UK P2P Lender Zopa Nets $303M

British companies that are part of the 2021 unicorn cohort include insurance-tech startup Marshmallow and peer-to-peer (P2P) lender Zopa, which respectively snagged $85 million and $303 million between September and October.

Related: Insurance FinTech Marshmallow Lands $85M

When it comes to Germany, Berlin-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) banking platform Mambu became the first German unicorn of 2021 after securing a 11 million euro (around $12.5 million) raise in January.

After a fresh injection of 235 million euros ($266.6 million) from a Series E funding round this month, the company’s valuation has shot up to 4.9 billion euros ($5.56 billion), making it one of the highest-valued business-to-business (B2B) SaaS startups in Europe.

See also: SaaS Startup Mambu Closes €235M Funding Deal at €4.9B Valuation

With venture capital (VC) investment in French startups doubling in the past year alone to hit 10 billion euros ($11.35 billion) in November 2021, it comes as no surprise that France comes third place on the 2021 list of top unicorn-producing European countries.

Read more: VC Investment in French Startups Doubles in 2021 to Hit $11.3B Despite Funding Gap Between Regions

Related: French Super App Lydia Raises $100M, Valued at $1B

The last French company that shot to unicorn status this year is mobile financial services platform Lydia, which began as a P2P payments app like Venmo when it launched in 2013. It has since grown to become the second-most downloaded FinTech app in France with 5.5 million customers.

When it comes to the Middle East and North Africa, the chief unicorn-producing nation is Israel, which had a record number of 10 unicorns this year, according to PitchBook data.

See also: Noname Security Becomes First API Security Unicorn With $135M Funding Round

This month, the Israeli application programming interface (API) developer Noname Security became the first API security unicorn after it locked down $135 million in a Series C fundraising round at a $1 billion valuation.

Read more: B2B Payments Platform Melio Raises $250M at $4B Valuation

The country is also home to B2B platform Melio, which joined the unicorn club in January 2021 after a $110 million funding round put its valuation at $1.3 billion.

The company has gone on to triple its valuation in just eight months after recently bagging a $250 million investment at a $4 billion valuation.

Learn more: Israeli Cloud Security Firm Wiz Raises $120 Million In Add’l Funding

In March, Israeli cloud security firm Wiz raised $130 million in Series B to reach a $1.7 billion valuation only a year after its launch, and has since gone on to secure $120 million in additional funding, pushing its valuation to $6 billion.

For the African continent, the startup scene continues to blossom, helped by booming FinTech and eCommerce sectors and a youthful, tech-savvy population.

According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, the number of African tech startups receiving funding between 2015 and 2020 grew by 46{1ecc11bb1501b786f489293ac2ac25fb54683d686574816a94d14a51901cfb17}, nearly six times faster than the global average.

In September, software developer training and outsourcing company Andela became the latest Africa-focused firm to join the unicorn ranks, after payments startups Flutterwave, OPay and Wave attained unicorn status this year.

Read also: African FinTech Wave Wraps up $200M Series A Funding Round

Andela’s addition brought the total number of billion-dollar businesses operating in the region to seven, when Interswitch, Fawry and eCommerce giant Jumia were added to the list.

Even though countries across the continent are buzzing with this growth and investment, Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, remains the undisputed leader, with five of the region’s unicorns — Andela, Flutterwave, Interswitch, Jumia and OPay and — linked to the West African country.

Read more: Nigerian Payments Giant OPay In Talks To Raise $400 Million At $1.5 Billion Valuation

Flutterwave, in particular, has had a busy year filled with big-name partnerships with the likes of Paypal, Visa and MTN, its first acquisition of Nigerian creative platform Disha and the launch of its new eCommerce service, Flutterwave Market, last month.

The developments come on the heels of recent reports that the payments firm is in talks with potential backers for new funding at a minimum valuation of $3 billion — about triple its current value — which will no doubt cement its place as the leading payments technology company in the region.

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