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A Look Back at 2021: The Year of Superlatives

What a year! After 2020 turned out to be weaker than initially anticipated due to the start of the corona crisis, there were already signs of recovery as the year came to an end. What then happened in 2021 in the Munich startup scene was something very few people would have ever expected. We take a look back at the year in figures.

All data about the Munich startup scene in our look back at 2021 is drawn from our Data & Insights Dashboard. Anyone interested in learning more is free to search through the database. To make it easier to use, we created a guide and tutorial videos that explain its key features.

Last year, a total of 4.2 billion euros were invested in startups from Munich and its surrounding area, which amounts to nearly four times the amount in 2020 (1.2 billion euros). This meant the previous record-breaking year of 2019, in which Munich-based startups were able to raise a total of 1.7 billion euros, was impressively surpassed. The number of investments, however, remained just about the same: There were 171 closings in 2020, followed by 173 in 2021. It was the average investment amount that increased significantly in the past year. While it amounted to approximately seven million euros in 2020, startups received an average of 24.3 million euros per funding round in 2021.

Numerous mega-investments played an important part in this development. Celonis tops the list, with the startup raising one billion dollars in its Series D round. 750 million euros were secured by Ionity, a corporate spin-off of several car manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes and VW. Third place was taken by Flixbus with 267 million euros in its Series G funding round. In total, ten investments surpassed the 100 million euro mark last year. This was achieved by just one startup in 2020, namely Lilium.

The number of investments between 100 million and ten million euros also increased. While 30 Munich startups were able to secure investments on this scale in 2020, the number increased significantly to 42 in 2021. In 2019, only 18 funding rounds were completed in this range.

The development of individual industries

With the windfall that reached Munich startups last year, it comes as no surprise that nearly all industries have benefitted. Enterprise software startups, for example, were able to raise a total of 1.5 billion euros in 2021, more than any other industry. In 2020, it was 204 million. Second place was taken by transportation with 1.4 billion euros (2020: 511 million). And third place was secured by the energy sector with 835 million euros (2020: 152 million).

The field of robotics took a particularly major leap. Munich-based robotics startups raised more than 400 million euros in 2021, which is more than six times the amount in the previous year (2020: 62.8 million). In contrast, startups in travel and legal received less than last year. With 47.7 million euros, startups in the travel industry secured roughly 30 percent less than in 2020 (68.4 Millionen). Legal startups, which received 18.2 million euros from investors in 2020, were supplied with just 1.5 million in the record-breaking year of 2021.

The Munich startup ecosystem is worth 41.3 billion euros

All of these developments have obviously also had an impact on company valuations. Not only was Munich able to welcome Germany’s first decacorn – a startup valuated at more than ten billion dollars – with Celonis, the number of unicorns also continued to increase last year. With Sono Motors, Personio, Agile Robots and Scalable Capital, four Munich startups achieved a valuation of one billion dollars or more. Based on the company valuations in sum, the Munich startup ecosystem was worth 41.3 billion euros at the end of last year. In 2020, the ecosystem was worth 20.2 million euros.

The number of exits also recently reached a new all-time high: Last year, a total of 27 Munich-based startups were acquired by other companies or went public. In the year before that, the founders of 15 startups took steps of this kind. Perhaps the most spectacular were the IPOs of Lilium and Sono Motors (we put together the key exits from last year for you here).

Looking back at the fourth quarter of 2021

In the fourth quarter of last year, Munich startups were able to raise just under 1.4 billion euros. In the same quarter in the previous year, the amount came to 304 million euros. The bulk of that sum, namely 750 million euros, went to Ionity (growth equity and late VC). Moreover, Personio secured 233 million euros in a Series E round. Third place was taken by Helsing, which was able to raise nearly 100 million euros (we put together the key investments of the quarter for you here).

With 33 investment rounds in the fourth quarter of 2021, the number came in below Q3 (45 funding rounds) and that of the previous year’s Q4 (38 funding rounds). The substantial investments in Ionity, Personio and Helsing this fall caused the average amount in investment rounds to skyrocket to roughly 42.4 million euros. In Q3 of 2021, the average came in at 17.4 million euros compared to eight million euros in the same quarter of the previous year. As a result, the fourth quarter of 2020 came in much higher than the annual average of 24.3 million euros.

The fund landscape in Munich has also been seeing positive developments. Munich-based venture capital firms created three new funds in the last three months of the past year, which come to a total investment sum of a little over one billion euros. During the same period in the previous year, five funds were created that amount to an investment sum of 2.7 billion euros. During the whole of 2021, more than 14 new funds entered the arena with a total of approximately 6.1 billion euros.

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