geert lovink on Fri, 5 Oct 2007 09:57:03 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Dutch technology investment is back on track

Tornado Insider: Dutch technology investment is back on track

The Netherlands was among the European countries that were hit hardest by the burst of the bubble late 2000. The Dutch saw their venture capital activity plunge from 126 deals in 2000 (ranked fourth in Europe) to 37 in 2002 (ranked eighth). Most activity was generated by a handful of reputed VCs, of which very few survived the crash.

Prime Technology Ventures (PTV) was often named as the example of an investor that carried on investing in early-stage deals – although not exclusively – positioning it ideally to close the country’s most attractive deals. Last Friday PTV announced the first closing of its PTV III, on €60 million. The new fund’s target is €150 million and focuses on early and later stage companies in IT and related sectors in North West Europe. PTV’s managing partner, Sake Bosch, expects that half of these will take place in the Netherlands. Simultaneously, the firm announced PTV III’s first investment: a €5 million funding round in Venspro, a Dutch company behind online real Greeting cards service Greetz.

PTV’s fundraising is not the only good news coming from the Netherlands. It took the country until 2005 before it started climbing back up on the European country ranking. But back on track is. This year a total of 56 deals have been recorded, already 27% more than the whole of 2006. This boost in activity helped the Dutch take fourth place again in 2007, only trailing the traditional top 3: UK, Germany, and France.

So where is all this activity coming from? In the past years, Dutch technology companies in need of funds were best off trying their luck with regional funds. And still regional funds such as NOM and PPM Oost play a significant role. But independent and institutional funds are picking up pace. The relative new funds Van Den Ende & Deitmers and Solid Ventures are the most active examples.

In addition, a host of early-stage funds have emerged in the past year. The latest in line is the Thuja Capital Healthcare Fund which, also last Friday, announced its first close at €19 million. It is dedicated to Benelux-based start-up and early-stage life science companies. The final close of the fund is aimed for the end of 2008. The surge in the number of early-stage funds is partly stimulated by a government initiative called TechnoPartner. Its Seed Facility encourages investors to set up funds by matching the available capital, thereby improving the investors' return.

That early-stage funding is much easier to come by in the Netherlands is backed by the statistics. There has been a Europe-wide increase in early-stage deals in the past years, from 27% of all technology-related investments in 2005, to 40% in 2006 and 51% in 2007 to date. The Netherlands is way above that level, with 69% of all VC fundings being seed or first rounds. Hopefully there will be enough follow-on money available to accommodate those companies in need of more funds in coming years. PTV will be sure to keep an eye out.

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