These were Europe’s leading seed and early-stage investors in 2022

9 Feb 2023

Image: © tostphoto/

Business data company Crunchbase has revealed the biggest investors in European start-ups and trends that can define the continent’s funding scene in 2023.

European start-ups had a healthy start in 2022 with an increase in funding and investment activity in the first half of the year. But this buzz soon died down in the second half, with the availability of funding falling because of macroeconomic headwinds.

By the end of the year, total venture capital (VC) activity was down year-over-year based on both deal count and value, according to PitchBook data, with around €91.6bn invested across an estimated 12,383 deals. They represent year-over-year declines of 15.9pc and 4.9pc respectively.

However, 2022 was still the second-biggest year for European VC activity, PitchBook found, with venture growth and late-stage representing 65.6pc of deal value – up from 2021. And despite a sharp fall in vehicle count, fund value reached a record €25.4bn.

For start-ups looking to scale in 2023, it is important to note which investors had been backing businesses last year and to what extent. And Crunchbase, a US company that provides data on investment levels in different parts of the world, has revealed the top investors from last year.

Seed stage

According to Crunchbase, while funding at all levels declined in 2022, the seed stage showed the least decline (11pc) year-over-year compared to other funding stages.

UK-based investment crowdfunding platform Crowdcube topped the list with more than 80 seed investments throughout the year. This was considerably lower than its 2021 seed funding count of more than 200 investments.

Antler, Bpifrance, Techstars, Startup Wise Guys and SpeedInvest were the five investors to follow Crowdcube on Crunchbase’s list. Some other big seed investors in the list include Kima Ventures, Y Combinator, SOSV and Cherry Ventures.

Together, the most active seed investors backed on average 43 deals in 2022. Many of them are global seed investors with bases in Europe, rather than European investors.

Series A and B

In the early-stage Series A and B segment, London-based Octopus Ventures emerged as the leading investor – leading more than twice the average number of fundings for this cohort.

Insight Partners, Molten Ventures, Tiger Global Management, Bpifrance and Highland Europe were the five investors that followed Octopus on the Crunchbase list. Of these, Insight and Tiger are growth equity investors which focus on businesses that have surpassed the start-up stage.

Some other big names in this segment include Index Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Atomico, Valar Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Together, the most active early-stage investors, on average, led more rounds in 2022 than in the previous two years.

Three investors, Eurazeo, Lightspeed and Highland Europe, led or co-led fundings at larger amounts than they did in 2021. Meanwhile, Softbank Vision Fund and Coatue were down the most year-over-year on the list of firms that participated in leading the largest funding amounts.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic