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Swiss venture capital breaks CHF1bn barrier for first time

Start-up companies have long complained of a venture capital drought in Switzerland. In the past, some firms were forced to relocate abroad in search of funding. But investors appear to have caught the Swiss bug – bringing more than CHF1 billion ($1 billion) into the country for the first time in 2018.

Investors poured CHF1.24 billion into emerging Swiss firms last year, an increase of 32% from 2017 – and three times the volume of funds from 2013 (see chart below).

The tide of funding is moving away from biotech and medtech towards computer technology (ICT) and fintech (financial technology) firms (see chart below). In Switzerland, ICT and fintech funding combined represented 55% of all investments, compared to 22% five years previously.

The rise of ICT and fintech as venture capital magnets is mirrored across Europe. But the effect is even greater in some other countries. When looking at the largest 20 VC deals, ICT accounted for 70% of investments flowing into France last year while Britain topped the league in fintech funding (40%). 

Investments were also more evenly spread among a greater number of firms. In 2013, 82% of total funding was swallowed up by the top 20 emerging firms. Last year the big 20 took a smaller slice of the pie – 56%.

The biggest single winner last year was Sygnum, a financial start-up that has plans to become a universal cryptocurrency bank. This company attracted more than CHF100 million in a first round of funding.

The chart below measures the amount of venture capital invested in the top 20 emerging firms across a range of countries, including Switzerland.

The figures were compiled in the Swiss Venture Capital Report 2019, an annual barometer of investments put together by startupticker.ch and the Swiss Private Equity & Corporate Finance Association (SECA).