Spanish startups reached €100 billion in aggregate value last year

If 11 figures is your attention threshold, you may be interested in learning that the combined enterprise value (EV) of Spanish startups surpassed €100 billion in 2023, according to Dealroom's latest report on the Spanish tech ecosystem. As we'll see, venture investment into Spanish startups also held up quite well, with €2.2 billion raised across some 850 funding rounds.

Spain's venture capital tally was lower last year than in 2021 and 2022; that's no surprise as these years were outliers. Unlike other places, though, the country hasn't fallen below pre-pandemic levels of activity. In 2019, for reference, Spanish startups had collectively raised €1.9 billion in venture capital.

But first, there are several ways to look at Spain's 11-figure startup EV. On the one hand, it puts Spain ahead of Norway, Italy or Portugal. On the other hand, with a combined value of $191 billion, Cambridge's tech ecosystem alone is almost worth double Spain's. (With $1 worth €0.92 today, please forgive us for skipping conversions.)

A lot could be said on whether Spain is doing enough to support entrepreneurship — but for today, let's stick to facts and numbers.

Adding time as a factor, France reached €100 billion in combined startup EV six years ago, and Germany nine years ago. But the value of Spanish tech is also one of the fastest growing in Europe, Dealroom noted in a slide. Give them more time, and maybe some Spanish startups will become decacorns and more, too.

Here's the funnel according to the report:

Spanish startup funnel - Dealroom
Spanish startup funnel - Dealroom

With a total of €2.2 billion in venture investment, 2023 results moved the needle in the right direction, but mostly for the top of the funnel. Investment volume for “Early-stage” — pre-seed, seed and Series A — was at an all-time high last year, and the Series B and Series C stages remained strong. However, late-stage activity was "quiet," per Dealroom, with only two mega-rounds (into veteran data management platform Denodo, which has long since relocated to the U.S.; and the data-driven events startup Fever.)

The slowdown in late-stage activity isn't unique to Spain but, like elsewhere, it could be a concern. Startup activity isn't only a funnel: It is also supposed to be a circle.

For instance, high-profile scaleups often turn into founder factories; in Spain, it's been the case with Fever, but also Cabify, job&talent, Glovo and wallbox. But without liquidity events, it becomes more difficult for former employees to become angels or start new companies.

That's also a necessity on the VC side, with exits providing liquidity that can be reinjected into early-stage deals. Without large M&As and IPOs, there's always a risk funds will be deprived of capital to invest anew.

Spanish VCs don't seem worried, though; time will do its thing, they suggest. Jaime Novoa, a partner at Kfund, commented in the report that he and his colleagues are "very confident that several companies being funded now will become scaleups in the next five to ten years." He cited as a positive signal how early stage activity "remains very healthy."

Not only is the early stage quite active, but the teams getting funded are also in line with what Europe may want to see more of. Most of 2023's VC funding into Spanish startups went to climate tech, followed by biotech and clean energy. It is too early to tell how many of these could become centaurs, but it will definitely be worth tracking.