Venture capital valuations report reveals record number of unicorns in 2020

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Venture capital valuations report reveals record number of unicorns in 2020

A record number of venture capital (VC) partners and firms within the European market were valued at over €1bn in 2020, reaching unicorn status, investment monitoring platform Pitchbook has reported.

The news follows a decade of sustained growth, and multi-billion valuations flooding the European VC market in 2020, despite economic and social disruption by COVID-19. 

And the report backs early-stage VCs for long-term growth, as all four quartiles in 2020 outperformed 2019, with COVID-19’s impact enhancing the appeal of specific sectors such as emerging tech.

Disruptive tech-based start-ups also built on their valuations and maintained growth while rapidly evolving new angel and seed start-ups secured capital from investors seeking the next big opportunity. 

An increased variety of start-ups attracted non-traditional investors (NTI) in larger numbers too, with NTI deal sizes expected to continue rising this year.

And while the report notes subdued VC-backed exit values at the start of 2020, many companies have since been exiting at loftier valuations, with the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors being the catalyst for that growth, notching a record $28.5 billion of capital across 1,073 deals, representing the most significant year-on-year increase to date at 60.5%.

The driver here was COVID-19 revealing weaknesses in healthcare systems across Europe, proving that long-term, innovative solutions are needed to upgrade our technology and prevent future pandemics; this was backed up by the record development and rollout of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in 2020. Pitchbook expects this trend to continue, as start-ups could play a key role in developing essential healthtech.

World Nano Foundation Co-Founder Paul Sheedy was pleased to see the rising investment in emerging tech at a most critical time for healthcare and pandemic protection:

“Early-stage investors aware of the knowledge and expertise within emerging tech start-ups, and notably healthcare, will benefit most from the current environment. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets show there is still an appetite for late-stage investment too.

“COVID-19 exposed our pandemic vulnerability and the weakness of our global healthcare systems, so investment must continue to grow to deliver the technological advances needed to avoid being caught out again.”

Sheedy is also a general partner in the Luxembourg-based Vector Innovation Fund, which recently launched a sub-fund raising an initial $300m for pandemic protection and future healthcare, focusing on precision medicine, advanced point of care, and AI technologies that support sustainable healthcare, the global economy, and human longevity.

The World Nano Foundation is a not-for-profit membership organisation with 75,000 subscribers and users in 40 countries working on international commercialisation of nanoscale technologies in 16 industry sectors and collaborates with a wide variety of partners, maximising support and funding bringing advanced technology to the world and commerce. This is supported by many industries and academic groups developing and creating a legacy for enabling technology innovation.

Vector Innovation Fund (VIF) is a Reserved Alternative Investment Fund (RAIF) specialising in support for technology companies able to transform and protect global markets, notably in global healthcare, enabling technology, sustainability, and longevity aligned to the UN’s SDG principles. VIF’s first sub-fund focuses on ‘Pandemic Protection’, and preparedness for future healthcare technology. This fund structure is domiciled in the world-renowned Luxembourg jurisdiction and is only open to international accredited and professional investors, such as family offices, UHNW, private placement investors, pension funds, international banks, ESG investors and sovereign wealth funds. The General Partners have an excellent track record in industry, healthcare, technology and investment, with 21 exits and total value creation of $2.4billion, including two successful IPOs.

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