After a promising first half, French Tech enjoyed a euphoric second half of the year. 2021 has thus enabled France to witness the emergence of 12 new unicorns, compared to only three in 2020.
Last year, French Tech reached a new symbolic milestone. Indeed, French start-ups raised 11.6 billion euros in 2021, an increase of 115% compared to 2020 (5.4 billion euros), according to the EY barometer of venture capital in France. . In total, 784 transactions were recorded during the past year, i.e. 26% more than in 2020, with an average amount of 14.8 million euros per funding round.
These good figures were eagerly awaited in the wake of a promising first half with 5.1 billion euros raised in 416 transactions, almost as much as in the whole of 2020. The second half did not disappoint with in particular a wind of madness which blew through the ecosystem last September, when 1.3 billion euros had been raised in less than 48 hours (580 million euros for Sorare, 473 million euros for Mirakl , 178 million euros for Vestiaire Collective and 85 million euros for Sunday). On arrival, the year 2021 has allowed France to bring out 12 new unicorns (Sorare, Swile, Lydia, Alan, Vestiaire Collective, Back Market, ManoMano…), against only three in 2020.
12 more unicorns in 2021
Thus, the ecosystem has gone from nine unicorns at the end of 2020 to 21 at the end of 2021, thus bringing French Tech closer to the objective of the 25 unicorns desired by Emmanuel Macron before 2025. It is finally done, and this before the end of the first month of the new year, with PayFit, Ankorstore, Qonto and Exotec helping to achieve this goal. Among these new unicorns, the neobank for professionals Qonto became the most valued French start-up ($4.4 billion) for a few hours, before Back Market, a specialist in the resale of refurbished electronic products online, did even better ($5.1 billion).
The proliferation of unicorns has been made possible by the rise of mega-fundraisers. Last year, 22 funding rounds of more than 100 million euros were thus carried out for a total value of five billion euros, i.e. a spectacular leap of 194% compared to 2020. And it started again on even higher bases in 2022 with already five operations of this scale since the beginning of the year. Since January 1, nearly two billion euros have been raised by French start-ups. “France is today a stronghold of the European ecosystem in which more than 11.5 billion euros were invested in 2021. Will this momentum continue in 2022? The year begins under the auspicious. Indeed, during the first two weeks of January the records were linked, both on the front of the new unicorns but also of the massive liftings”, points out Franck Sebag, partner of EY.
UK and Germany ahead of France
Unsurprisingly, Île-de-France captures 80% of investments, or 9.3 billion euros, compared to four billion in 2020. Far behind, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region (5.8%) and the Occitanie (4.6%) completes the podium. If Paris shines on French tech, this is not yet the case on a European scale. Indeed, the United Kingdom, despite Brexit, remains the undisputed leader on the Old Continent with 32.4 billion euros raised by British start-ups last year, up 155% compared to 2020, ahead of Germany, which captured 16.2 billion euros in investments, and therefore France. This is a small disappointment because France had managed to snatch second place on the podium from Germany in 2020. In addition, the progression has been stronger in other European ecosystems, such as the Netherlands. (+219% to 5.9 billion euros) and Sweden (+148% to 7.6 billion euros).
At the level of the sectors that support French Tech, that of internet services is the most popular with investors with 3.9 billion raised within the framework of 304 operations, against 128 in 2020, which had made it possible to collect 1.4 billion. euros. Fintech (2.5 billion euros) and software (2.2 billion euros) complete the podium. The good shape of fintech was also highlighted a week ago in KPMG’s “Tech Insights 2021” study. The firm, which only takes into account transactions greater than three million euros, had thus placed fintech at the top of the most attractive sectors with 2.4 billion euros captured in 2021, up 230% compared to to 2020.
After proving its resilience in the midst of a global pandemic and accelerating its pace of emergence of new unicorns, French Tech must now face new challenges. Congratulating himself on seeing the French ecosystem welcome a 25th unicorn with Exotec, Emmanuel Macron did not fail to recall that the new challenge for Europe was to have ten start-ups valued at more than 100 billion euros. dollars by 2030. The tricolor ecosystem must also demonstrate its ability to introduce its technological nuggets on the stock market. OVHcloud and Believe have shown the way, but the work remains immense.