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Mapping Unicorns across Europe

Mapping Unicorns across Europe

By Ingemar Pongratz.

Karrtorp I by Ingemar Pongratz
Karrtorp I by Ingemar Pongratz

A Start Up company valued 1 billion dollars or more is a Unicorn. To reach Unicorn status, start-ups need both a unique product, a successful strategy to enter the market and access to further financing to grow and expand operations.

In many ways, Unicorns are also a suitable marker of the innovation environment in a region. Unicorns are sign of a healthy innovation ecosyste. Mapping Unicorns across Europe thus provides thus important insights on the European innovation efforts.


The European Commission has developed several different instruments to support innovation and enterprise development across Europe. This includes financial support to Start Ups for example through Horizon Europe funding. In particular, the European Innovation Council (EIC) represent the main channel to provide financial support to European small and medium size enterprises (SME).

Mapping Unicorns across Europe provided several interesting findings. Among other, the report showed that the majority of Unicorns are created in the US or China. Only about 30% of the Unicorns are based in Europe. Mapping Unicorns across Europe also showed that many European Unicorns move outside the EU due to lack of funding. Many of these enterprises are not able to attract necessary capital in the EU. These companies are move for example to the US.


Mapping Unicorns across Europe also showed that it takes longer time to reach Unicorn status in the EU compared to China, again due to difficulties to find capital. The study shows that EU SME need in average 10 years to become reach Unicorn status. In contrast, Unicorns in the US need in average 8 years and in China 5 years to become Unicorns.

Furthermore, EU SMEs need to perform more financing rounds to attract necessary capital compared to Chinese or US counterparts.

In addition, the EU study showed that European VC capital firms are less active compared to for example US VC firms. In fact, the most active VC firm in Europe turned out to be American.

The study main aim was to provide a fact-finding study and few suggestions were provided how to improve the innovation ecosystem in the EU. Mapping Unicorns across Europe is however important for future policy decisions and actions to support SME development.


Our experience (Letavis AB) shows finding financial support is difficult and very time consuming, both at Seed and Scale up stage. However, we could identify other considerable hurdles. Regulatory processes are often difficult and very slow and create considerable delays in the path towards market.


Ingemar Pongratz is founder of Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting. Through Pongratz Consulting we help universities and enterprises to apply for financial support from EU funding schemes such as Horizon Europe. In addition, Ingemar Pongratz has founded Letavis AB. Through Letavis AB we have developed new products for the agricultural sectors. We have developed 2 lines of products, one that improves agricultural yields and one that improves animal health and animal growth.

Contact us to develop a Horizon Europe proposal or if you are interested in Letavis. Please use the Online Contact Form.

Karrtorp II by Ingemar Pongratz
Karrtorp II by Ingemar Pongratz




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