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Late-stage start-ups in particular were able to benefit from venture capital (VC) funding in large funding rounds.
The online grocery sector has emerged as one of the biggest winners of the coronavirus crisis, with German consumers buying almost twice as much pasta, meat, fruit and vegetables online as they did in the previous year according to e-commerce association bevh. The Covid-19 crisis has brought an end to traditional consumer reluctance to buy groceries online, with many retailers unable to meet the surge in demand.
The greatest level of market disruption was felt in the grocery-shopping segment. The ability to order online with delivery in less than 10 minutes proved not only attractive to consumers but investors too. The uptake of food delivery services as a result of coronavirus lockdown restrictions helped Berlin-based Gorillas to become the fastest unicorn in history after closing a Series B round of EUR 244 million funding in March of this year. The Berlin start-up also has ambitious plans to expand in Europe and enter the US market in New York.
Existing players in the grocery delivery segment similarly saw an increase in demand, as more people stayed at home to reduce the risk of infection during the pandemic. A substantial consolidation in the drink delivery segment took place in November 2020, when German food industry conglomerate Dr. Oetker bought start-up Flaschenpost for around EUR 1 billion.
Digitalization in the foodtech sector has been underway for some years, which meant that the coronavirus pandemic had a less dramatic effect on start-ups with mature business models. This robustness has helped attract new venture capital to the thriving sector.
Berlin-based InFarm secured industry headlines with two consecutive funding rounds in late 2020 and early 2021 totaling more than EUR 220 million as part of its ambitious international expansion and product portfolio development plans. The start-up offers a new approach to urban farming that sees vegetables and herbs planted in the aisles of supermarkets, thereby reducing the amount of space and water needed, as one solution to food security and environmental viability concerns.
A funding round of EUR 25 million in April provided respite to tech platform Choco from the lockdown-imposed lull in restaurant trade. Already active in nine countries including the US and Brazil, the company’s platform provides a digital dashboard solution to restaurants and food suppliers that streamlines the food ordering process.
The Covid-19 crisis may have put some commercial activities on hold, but demand for digital solutions in traditional industries has never been higher. Automation and B2B solutions are in significant demand as companies seek to optimize management and production processes.
HR software provider Personio became a unicorn in January, raising EUR 125 million in funding. The start-up has created a digital platform that combines recruitment and onboarding, payroll, absence tracking and other major personnel-related functions. The company hopes to tap into Europe’s 25 million-strong SME market, many of whom still rely on outdated or individual solutions that are inefficient and have a high error risk.
SAP acquired business process intelligence company Signavio in January. The acquisition will allow SAP to provide a holistic suite of flexible process transformation solutions to business customers. Signavio’s process modeling and management functionalities as well as its process governance solutions are widely considered as being market leading.
Berlin-based content management platform Contentful secured a Series E round of EUR 65 million in June 2020. Business continuity in a digital context became a top priority for many companies at the start of the pandemic. The company’s agile content platform allows developers, designers and content creators to manage and deliver content across websites, mobile apps, wearables, and digital displays internationally.
A funding round in January brought in EUR 65 million for SaaS platform provider Konux. The company has established itself as a European sustainable mobility solutions provider, with its proprietary software combining industrial IoT technology with machine-learning facilitating predictive maintenance. The latest round of funding will allow Konux to develop its expansion plans into markets in Europe, the USA and Asia.