News is in that, HSBC is set to unveil a new name for Silicon Valley Bank UK (SVBUK), the technology-focused bank it rescued earlier this year. Europe’s largest lender plans to rebrand SVBUK as HSBC Innovation Banking, with the announcement expected to coincide with London Tech Week in June. Reportedly, some tech industry insiders have expressed concerns that bringing SVBUK under the HSBC brand may jeopardise its operational independence, which has made it a distinct presence in the SME banking market. HSBC CEO Noel Quinn has emphasised the importance of preserving the rescued bank’s culture, having stepped in to save it from insolvency.
HSBC’s acquisition of SVBUK, orchestrated by the Bank of England and involving personal involvement from UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, was met with relief by its thousands of clients. Many warned that the bank’s collapse would pose an existential threat to the UK tech sector and have a significant impact on the country’s startup economy. SVBUK’s executive leadership, including CEO Erin Platts and independent chairman Darren Pope, is expected to remain unchanged for the time being. SVB in the US experienced a crisis of confidence among depositors, leading to temporary public ownership before being sold to regional US lender First Citizens Bancshares.
While the upcoming rebranding move, may raise concerns about the potential loss of SVBUK’s operational independence, there are several other alternatives in Europe that continue to support SMEs and early-stage startups. Here are 10 notable options for European startups:
Based out of London, Seedcamp is a seed fund and accelerator that invests in early-stage startups and provides them with mentorship, funding, and a network of resources. Seedcamp’s primary focus is on investing in and supporting technology startups in their early stages of development.
Recently, the VC co-founded by a woman, closed its oversubscribed Fund VI, securing a substantial amount of $180 million. The fund will be utilised to support the most ambitious founders across Europe, ranging from angel to seed rounds.
Anthemis Group (UK)
Anthemis Group is a venture investment and advisory firm that focuses specialises in investing in early-stage and growth-stage companies in the fintech sector. Its investment portfolio spans various sectors within fintech, including banking, insurance, wealth management, payments, and capital markets.
The VC’s collaborative and partnership-driven approach to its investments enables it to work closely with founders and management teams to provide strategic guidance, industry expertise, and operational support. Furthermore, it aims to foster innovation, drive positive change, and create long-term value for its portfolio companies.
In addition, the woman-founded Anthemis Group also operates a strategic advisory arm that offers consulting services to financial institutions and corporates seeking to navigate the evolving fintech landscape.
European Investment Bank (Luxembourg)
European Investment Bank (EIB) provides lending, borrowing, and treasury services primarily in the European Union. The company offers project loans for the public and private sectors; loans to banks and other intermediaries; structured finance products; guarantees and securitization instruments for senior and subordinated debts; project bonds; equity and fund investment products such as infrastructure equity and debt funds, and environmental funds; and venture capital funds and security packages for funds.
The company also offers microfinance; risk-sharing finance for research, development, and innovation projects; finance and technical expertise for sustainable energy projects; infrastructure project advisory services; support for urban development projects; guarantees for transport infrastructure; and funding for public-private partnerships and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Balderton Capital (UK)
Balderton Capital, one of the top early-stage VC firms based out of London, was initially founded as the European investment arm of Benchmark Capital, a prominent Silicon Valley VC firm. In 2007, the firm became independent and rebranded as Balderton Capital. Balderton has backed founders from seed to growth stage across Europe, having made around 300 investments since its debut.
Late last year, Balderton Capital, raised $600 million in the largest early-stage fund ever. The firm claimed to be industry neutral and planned to invest between $1 million and $20 million in 25-30 new enterprises in the region.
Octopus Ventures (UK)
Yet another London-headquartered VC, Octopus Ventures, focuses on investing in early-stage and growth-stage companies primarily in the technology sector. It provides funding and support to innovative startups and scaleups with high-growth potential. The VC invests in various technology sectors, including fintech, healthtech, deep tech, proptech, and others and focuses on companies based in the UK and Europe.
Following an active approach to its investments, Octopus Ventures works closely with portfolio companies to help them grow and succeed. In addition to providing financial support, it also offers strategic guidance, industry expertise, and access to its network of investors, entrepreneurs, and corporate partners.
Another London-based VC firm, Northzone is one of the few firms worldwide with a 50/50 gender split in its investment team. The company specialises in early-stage investments, focusing on disruptive startups in sectors such as technology, fintech, and consumer services.
In September 2022, Northzone raised a mega round of €1 billion to back next-gen European tech startups. It was announced that the fund will be used to support innovators and entrepreneurs across Europe who are building the most ambitious, category-defining tech companies of the next decade.
Northzone’s investment strategy continues to focus on companies with strong propositions and founders with the vision and conviction to succeed on a global stage. The team will continue investing in verticals such as fintech, healthtech, SaaS, workplace software as well as consumer apps and entertainment.
EQT Ventures (Sweden)
Swedish VC firm, EQT Ventures invests in tech startups, providing funding, operational support, and access to their network of advisors and industry experts. The VC firm aims to support entrepreneurs and startups that are developing innovative technologies and have the potential for significant growth. The firm is focused on identifying disruptive technologies, supporting ambitious founders, and helping companies scale and succeed in the competitive tech landscape.
Late in 2022, EQT Venture closed its third fund — EQT Ventures III at €1.1 billion from a wide range of European, North American, and Asian institutional investors, foundations, and endowments.
Based out of Vienna, Speedinvest is an early-stage venture capital fund that focuses on European startups, providing funding, mentorship, and operational support in sectors such as fintech, deep tech, digital health, and marketplaces. The firm typically invests in seed and Series A rounds and aims to partner closely with entrepreneurs to help them build scalable and sustainable businesses.
Back in 2021, Speedinvest launched an €80 million Climate & Industry Opportunity fund aimed towards delivering long-term support for the company’s existing sustainability-oriented startups.
Atomico is a venture capital firm that invests in technology companies at various stages of growth. It was founded with the aim of supporting ambitious entrepreneurs who are using technology to create innovative solutions and disrupt traditional industries. The firm invests in a wide range of sectors, including consumer technology, fintech, healthcare, and deep tech, and companies with the potential to become global leaders in their respective fields.
Furthermore, Atomico not only provides financial capital but also offers strategic support and expertise to help portfolio companies scale and succeed.
Another Swedish VC, Creandum focuses on investing in innovative and technology-driven companies, particularly in the early stages of their development. While it invests primarily in European companies, there is a particular emphasis on the Nordic region. The firm has made investments in a wide range of sectors, including software, e-commerce, consumer services, healthcare, and fintech.