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This article was published on June 2, 2023

EU wants to create 100 deep tech unicorns in digital, green push

Unicorns, centaurs, and Europe's tech fairytale

EU wants to create 100 deep tech unicorns in digital, green push

The European Commission launched a new initiative this week to help 100 deep tech startups become unicorns, as the bloc looks to accelerate growth in green and digital technologies. 

“We will identify one hundred of Europe’s future tech champions, engage them, and provide them with support on their scaleup journey,” said EU tech chief Margrethe Vestager, who announced the EIC Scale Up 100 initiative at a deep tech conference in Stockholm yesterday.  

These “future tech champions” will be picked from a pool of startups already enrolled in national and EU-led innovation programmes across the Continent. Only the “best performing” startups will make the cut, the EU executive said in a statement. 

Startups will be selected in areas that contribute to Europe’s green and digital transition such as climate, energy, digital, and health. “Supporting scaleups is not only our best chance to produce home-grown tech giants: it is a critical choice for digital and energy resilience,” said Vestager.

The European Innovation Council (EIC) will oversee the process. The Council, which Vestager likened to a “factory of European unicorns,” has already produced 12 startups valued at $1bn or more, such as Dutch vertifical farming startup Infarm and Swedish 3D bioprinting startup Cellink. The EIC has also produced 112 ‘centaur’ companies — firms with an annual recurring revenue exceeding $100m.  

EU member states and countries associated with the bloc’s scientific research initiative, Horizon Europe, will be invited to nominate companies from their ecosystems, with their participation pending the selection process. 

The selected startups will receive support from a group called the EIC Scaling Club which includes 100 investors from VC, growth, and government funds, 100 companies with innovation units, and 100 independent mentors. 

The initiative aims to help the startups grow annually by 40% in their valuation, new investments, partnerships, and jobs and by 50% across the same parameters for the 20 top performing companies in two years.

“EIC Scale Up 100 will prove that Europe is the most attractive location for future global unicorns and their investors,” said Vestager. 

The programme falls under the New European Innovation Agenda, launched last year, which aims to boost scaleup funding, nurture deep tech skills, and implement improved policy tools. 



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