Europe leads the world in 2021 tech unicorn boom

12 Jul 2021

Image: © Zamurovic Brothers/

Europe is leading the way in the world’s billion-dollar tech company boom, with 65 of the 170 cities globally to have at least one unicorn.

Global venture capital investment has reached a record high this year with more than €264bn invested in the first six months of 2021, according to data from Dealroom. This figure is more than double the €114bn invested in the same period last year.

Dealroom, a company that reports data on global start-ups, published a new report which found that Europe is now the fastest-growing region for VC investment globally. In 2021 alone, the region has attracted €49bn – more than the US, China and the rest of Asia.

However, the report found that technology firms with at least one female founder are less likely to receive funding. In the study period, 86pc of all venture capital funding went to all-male teams.

There has also been a surge in the number of billion-dollar startups, or unicorns. The data shows that two unicorns have been born each day since the beginning of the year, up from one every two days in the same period in 2020.

Of the 170 cities globally that have at least one unicorn, 65 are in Europe. This is the highest of any region in the world.

According to the study, technology is increasingly seen as a safe asset and more money has been flowing into Europe from the US and Asia as a result of the pandemic.

“Since Covid-19 took hold, the tech sector has proved to be resilient and a safe investment for venture capitalists following the economic downturn which has impacted retail, aviation and the hospitality industries severely over the last 18 months,” Dealroom said.

“Due to this resilience of the tech sector, governments around the globe are increasingly recognising tech as a strong economic and growth engine, creating jobs and attracting investment which is helping to drive the post-Covid-19 recovery. This has, in turn, intensified global competition for start-ups and capital.”

This has led to the valuation of global technology companies at more than $35tn, exceeding the $20.81trn US GDP in 2020.

However, the US still has the lion’s share of all unicorns. Of the 1,600 countries in the world valued at more than $1bn, 853 are based in the US, with China and Europe trailing behind at 280 and 268 respectively.

Within Europe, London dominates the unicorn scene with 71 based in the English capital, more than three times higher than the 21 in Paris, which is second in line. Zurich, Copenhagen and Oslo are the fastest-growing unicorn cities in Europe between 2015 and 2021.

Outside the US and Europe, the fastest-growing unicorn countries in 2021 have been Nigeria, Colombia and Mexico.

“Tech continues to be a major economic driver, attracting investment and jobs at a time when the rest of the economy slowed down as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Yoram Wijngaarde, founder and CEO of Dealroom.

“Investment into start-ups are at an all-time high because investors see tech as a safe asset and innovation is continuing as entrepreneurs are identifying gaps in the market and are bulging with ideas. This is a huge vote of confidence in the global tech sector.”

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic