Entrepreneurs in Belgium eyeing to raise funds might have an easier time right now to grow their rice as the startup ecosystem in the country is heating up. Not only funding but also starting a business in Belgium does not take as much effort as in other countries. Eventually, these reasons make the country one of the attractive options for expats looking forward to building their business.
Of late, Belgium has witnessed a significant increase in funding in recent years and is one of the leaders in Europe. The country’s business ecosystem has been consistent in terms of ranking for many years in terms of both growth and capital investment. It is touted to provide a healthy environment for startups to flourish.
Having said that, here we detail the most funded Belgium startups so far in 2019 as sourced from Dealroom. Notably, these startups belong to popular cities such as Ghent, Brussels, and Antwerp predominantly.
Founders: Felix Van De Maele, Pieter De Leenheer, Stijn Christiaens
Funding: €218 million
Founded year: 2008
Why its hot: Collibra is one of the first Belgian tech startup unicorns with a valuation above 1 billion dollars. In Jan 2019, Collibra raised $100 million (nearly €87.9 million) funding from CapitalG, Alphabet’s growth equity investment fund, ICONIQ Capital, Index Ventures, Dawn Capital and Battery Ventures. It is a leader in data governance and helps organisations across the world to gain a competitive advantage by maximising the value of their data across the enterprise. The solution offers enterprises to organise and manage data assets and related policies and rules.
Founders: Pieterjan Bouten, Louis Jonckheere
Funding: €141 million
Founded year: 2011
Why its hot: Showpad believes that the best buyer experience wins, so it builds the most flexible and complete sales enablement platform for sales and marketing teams to rely on to prepare sellers, engage buyers and optimise performance with the necessary insights. Showpad’s solution makes it simple and easy to discover and share the right content, deliver coaching and training, and maximise seller productivity. Showpad secured $70 million (nearly €63 million) in Series D funding led by Dawn Capital and Insight Partners with participation from existing investor Hummingbird Ventures and new investor Korelya Capital.
Promethera Biosciences (Wallonia)
Founders: Etienne Sokal
Funding: €126 million
Founded year: 2009
Why its hot: Promethera Biosciences is a global innovator in liver therapeutics with the mission to bring life-saving treatments to minimise the need for liver transplantation. The lead clinical program has been derived from the company’s patented cell technology platform called HepaStem. It is designed to benefit from the anti-fibrotic and immune-modulatory properties. Promethera Biosciences develops antibody technologies to complement and diversify therapeutic options. In 2019, the company pocketed two rounds of Series D funding totalling €49.7 million from Itochu Technology Ventures and Sansei Capital Investment.
Founders: Lieven De Smedt
Funding: €59 million
Founded year: 2013
Why its hot: AgroSavfe operates with the ambition to contribute to sustainable production of safe and healthy food. It focuses on the development, discovery, and commercialisation of safe and effective bio-controls to handle pests and diseases from using the scalable, ground-breaking, and proprietary AGROBODY tech platform. It is a novel class of bio-controls depending on AGROBODY bio-actives. AgroSavfe secured €35 million in Series C funding led by Gimv with participation from Sofinnova Partners, Agri Investment Fund, PMV, Biovest, K&E, VIB, Madeli Participaties, and Qbic.
iSTAR Medical (Wavre)
Founders: Michel Alvarez
Funding: €45 million
Founded year: 2010
Why its hot: iSTAR Medical is a clinical-stage medical tech company, which is focused on the development of novel ophthalmic implants for glaucoma. Notably, this is the second leading cause of adult blindness across the world and MIGS (micro-invasive glaucoma surgery) is the fastest-growing and most promising option in its treatment. Eventually, iSTAR Medical has designed the best-in-class MIGS device to treat the ailment. In September this year, iSTAR Medical announced the completion of a €40 million Series C round led by LSP and Gimv along with participation from Earlybird and BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity.
Chairman: Thomas Taapken
Funding: €32.6 million
Founded year: 2010
Why its hot: Imcyse operates with the mission to develop novel and disease-specific immune therapies to treat chronic autoimmune, allergic, inflammatory and infectious tumours and diseases. The company pioneers in the development of a new class of immunotherapeutics. Its tech platform is based on the discovery of modified synthetic peptides to block the immune processes causing immune-mediated diseases.
Imcyse raised €35 million in a Series B financing round led by LSP together with Belgian investors including Epimède, the Société Régionale d’Investissement de Wallonie (SRIW), and the Société Fédérale de Participations et d’Investissement (SFPI).
Founders: Heidi Rakels, Eric Lafortune
Funding: €27.3 million
Founded year: 2014
Why its hot: Leuven-based cybersecurity startup GuardSquare is involved in the development of premium software aimed at mobile apps protection. The software protects apps against hacking activities such as tampering and reverse engineering. Their products and services are used by a wide range of industries including e-commerce, financial services, gaming, media, and telecommunication. Guardsquare has secured $29 million (nearly €26 million) in a funding round from Battery Ventures.
Founders: Marc Kegelaers
Funding: €23.2 million
Founded year: 2015
Why its hot: Antwerp-based Unifly is a software company, which develops unmanned traffic management software for drones. The company’s platform aims at the safe integration of drones into the airspace with its software and enables management and tracking of drones. Besides commercial aviation to provide visibility on where drones can request, fly, and provide flight approvals, Unifly’s software also helps manage potential conflicts and take regulations even in no-fly zones into account.
In July 2019, Unifly completed a €17 million Series B round from investors such as Deutsche Flugsicherung and Belgium’s Federal Holding and Investment Company (FPIM).
Founders: Jorik Rombouts
Funding: €20.1 million
Founded year: 2012
Why its hot: Rombit is a fast-growing tech company that makes smart solutions for the government and port sector. The company quickly improves operational efficiency, security, and safety. It builds future-proof solutions and port terminals, maritime services, and petrochemical plants. With a thorough market knowledge, Rombit helps solve business problems and make lives easier and safer for workers. In October 2019, Rombit closed €10 million Series B funding round led by Vic Swerts, InvestLink, and several other investors.
Founders: Quentin Colmant, Jean-Charles Velge
Funding: €15 million
Founded year: 2016
Why its hot: Qover offers Insurance-as-a-Service for digital businesses. It is a pioneer to offer insurance products via open APIs and white-label front-ends. The company’s proprietary insurance infrastructure enables the launch of non-life insurance products in any country in Europe and it has insured nearly 50,000 individuals across eight countries. It has partnered with other successful firms such as Deliveroo and Cowboy among others. The insurtech startup Qover raised €8 million in Series B funding round led by Alven and Portag3 Ventures, with participation the existing investor Anthemis.
Main image picture credits: Qover
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