European tech super-fund Draper Esprit to raise £100m

21 Jan 2019

Image: © Kafai/

Draper Esprit is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting high-growth European tech firms.

Dublin and London-listed venture capital (VC) player Draper Esprit is raising £100m in a placing announced this morning (21 January).

Some of the funding raised will be used to acquire stakes in two further Earlybird funds, Earlybird IV and Earlybird Digital East, with the remainder to provide early- and growth-stage European tech companies with capital.

‘We passionately believe in the potential for Europe to become a high-tech powerhouse’

The move comes several months after forming a partnership with Berlin VC fund Earlybird that is, in effect, the equivalent of a €1.3bn-plus super-fund for European emerging tech start-ups.

Overcoming Europe’s tech funding crunch

The investment adds 19 new underlying companies, which the funds hold stakes in, to Draper Esprit’s portfolios. These new underlying holdings include tech firms such as Smava, Peak Games, UiPath, B2X, Nfon and Socialbakers.

The move also comes at a time when European tech firms are nearing a funding crunch with particular pressure on seed funding for early-stage firms. In the third quarter of 2018, VC funding in Ireland plummeted 47pc, for example.

Draper Esprit, a subsidiary of the $9bn Draper Fisher Jurvetson VC syndicate, conducted a £100m initial public offering (IPO) on the Dublin and London stock exchanges in 2016, led by Irishman Brian Caulfield, a venture partner with the firm. The company is a major investor in breakout European tech firms, including TransferWise, Trustpilot and Graphcore.

“We passionately believe in the potential for Europe to become a high-tech powerhouse and are putting our money where our mouth is by furthering our strategic partnership with Earlybird,” said Draper Esprit CEO Simon Cook.

“This allows us to cement our position as a leading VC in Europe, whilst simultaneously offering investors access to exciting and high-quality underlying assets.

“These acquisitions represent an exceptional opportunity made available to us through our strategic partnership with Earlybird. The two funds include a number of high-quality, well-positioned and fast-growing European assets, the prospects of which we are very excited about. We’re also refreshing our financial resources to continue to invest in our strong pipeline of potential future investment opportunities.

“We’re pleased to have the support of our current investors in this fundraise, along with welcoming significant new investors from the UK and Europe.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years