Irish tech firms raised €1.2bn last year in spite of pandemic

Some 264 companies raised funds in 2020, with 10 raising more than €30 million each

Irish tech companies raised more than €1 billion in funding for the first time last year despite the Covid-19 crisis, new figures show.

However, the data, compiled by TechIreland, indicates that seed-stage funding fell for the fourth consecutive year as investors continued to focus on putting their money into more established companies.

Overall, €1.19 billion was secured by 264 companies in 2020, with 10 groups raising more than €30 million each. This compares with just four companies who did likewise a year earlier.

The figures are skewed somewhat by a number of extremely large rounds, with the top 10 biggest investments accounting for just over half of all funding raised.

Among the companies to secure large investments last year were Cork-based solar-power company Amarenco, which raised €165 million in November. State-backed ALX Oncology secured €98 million while fintech Fenergo raised €73.6 million.

At seed stage, a total of €78 million was raised by Irish companies, as against €82 million in 2019. Funding rounds in the €1 million to €30 million range have dropped by more than 20 per cent since 2017.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the pandemic, the health tech sector accounted for the majority of funding raised last year as 64 companies raised €411 million.

Enterprise solutions accounted for the largest numbers of companies raising in 2020, with 86 securing a combined €219 million.

Thirty fintechs raised €186 million between them, with cleantech companies securing €173 million. Some €26 million of the total fundraising figure was by Northern Irish companies. Female-founded companies secured a record €105 million last year.

“Ireland is producing world-class entrepreneurs and tech businesses with the ambition and capability to conquer global markets,” said John O’Dea, chief executive of TechIreland.

“While we rightly celebrate some of the huge investments here, we always need to remember to support the vulnerable early-stage businesses that will be the giants of the next decade.”

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist