The Spanish tech scene is experiencing a boom, with the combined enterprise value (EV) of Spanish startups surpassing a significant milestone – €100 billion in 2023, according to a recent report by Dealroom. This achievement positions Spain as a major player in the European tech landscape, surpassing countries like Norway, Italy, and Portugal.

Healthy Early-Stage Investment Fuels Growth

While the overall €2.2 billion venture investment in 2023 represents a positive trend, the most significant growth is concentrated at the top of the investment funnel. Early-stage funding, encompassing pre-seed, seed, and Series A rounds, reached an all-time high last year. Series B and C rounds also maintained strong momentum, indicating continued support for promising startups as they mature. However, the report highlights a slowdown in late-stage activity, with only two mega-rounds recorded in 2023. These included veteran data management platform Denodo (now primarily based in the US) and data-driven events platform Fever.

Founding a Sustainable Future: Green Tech Takes Center Stage

Despite the slowdown in late-stage investments, there’s a bright side to the story. Spanish startups are increasingly focusing on sectors critical for Europe’s future – climate tech, clean energy, and biotech. These sectors received the lion’s share of venture capital funding in 2023, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and innovation. While it’s still early to predict how many of these ventures will achieve “centaur” status (valued at over €1 billion), their growth is certainly worth monitoring.

Founder Factories and Liquidity: Challenges and Opportunities

The lack of late-stage activity raises concerns about the long-term sustainability of the Spanish tech ecosystem. A thriving startup scene isn’t just a funnel; it should also function as a circle. Ideally, successful startups (scaleups) become “founder factories,” spawning new ventures by inspiring and empowering former employees to become entrepreneurs, often as angel investors. However, without significant liquidity events like mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or initial public offerings (IPOs), it becomes more challenging for former employees to access the capital needed to launch new ventures. This lack of liquidity also impacts venture capitalists (VCs), who rely on exits from their investments to reinvest capital in early-stage deals. Without a steady flow of large M&A activity and IPOs, VCs risk running out of funds to support the next generation of innovative startups.

Spanish VCs Remain Confident in Future Growth

Despite these concerns, Spanish VCs seem optimistic about the future. Partners at firms like Kfund express confidence that many companies currently receiving funding will become successful scaleups within the next five to ten years. They view the strong activity in the early stages of the funding funnel as a positive indicator of future growth.The Spanish tech ecosystem is on an upward trajectory, fueled by a surge in early-stage investments and a focus on green technology. However, fostering a truly sustainable ecosystem requires addressing the slowdown in late-stage activity. Encouraging successful exits through M&A activity and IPOs can create a virtuous cycle of liquidity, enabling both entrepreneurs and VCs to reinvest in the future of Spanish innovation.

By nurturing its founder factories and ensuring access to capital for future generations of startups, Spain can solidify its position as a leading force in the European tech landscape. The coming years will be crucial in determining whether the country can translate its early-stage momentum into long-term success stories that will shape the future of European tech.

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Saiba Verma, an accomplished editor with a focus on finance and market trends, contributes to Atom News with a dedication to providing insightful and accurate business news. Saiba Verma analytical approach adds depth to our coverage, keeping our audience well-informed.