Europe’s tech scene, while on the rise, lags behind the US in just about every metric. Facebook alone is worth twice as much as every European $US1 billion-plus “unicorn” startup put together. American companies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of exits and acquisitions on the continent. Employees are paid, on average, far less.
The funding gap is particularly stark: In Q2 of 2015, European venture capital firms raised €2 billion (£1.49 billion, $US2.2 billion), the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year — one-sixth of the €11.8 billion (£8.77 billion, $US13.4 billion) American firms raised in the same time period.
Highland Europe, the continental arm of Highland Capital Partners is launching a significant new fund that it says it hopes will help address this. It’s a whopping €332 million (£246.6 million, $US378.6 million), with the plan being to invest between $US10-$US30 million (£15.3-£46 million) at a time in 15-20 companies to help them grow over the next four years. News of the fund was first reported by Murad Ahmed at the Financial Times.
Fergan Mullen, founder of Highland Europe, told the FT that “on balance, we need a more funded, healthier, more competitive ecosystem in Europe … That’s starting to happen. But we are far, far, far from where the US has been for decades now.”
This is Highland Europe’s second fund, and is larger than its first — a €250 million (£185.7 million, $US285.1 million) pot whose investments included WeTransfer and NewVoiceMedia.
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