Mapping the Landscape of EU Venture Capital

How are European investors responding to the prolonged economic uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, war, high interest rates, and the energy crises that defined 2023? What can kickstart investment in entrepreneurialism and innovation in the face of a gloomy economic outlook and a reduced appetite for risk? These are some of the core questions driving the first set of findings released by a newly formed research team, involving SnT and the European Investment Fund (EIF).

The Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and New Technology (EINT) Research Group at SnT is now a core contributor to an annual research initiative seeking to better understand the changing landscape of venture capital (VC) in Europe. Prof. Christian Fisch has joined a pan-continental team producing insights for the European Investment Fund (EIF)—an important arm of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group.


The EIF is Europe’s leading risk finance provider for small and medium sized enterprises. Its central goal is to facilitate their access to finance—vital contributions needed to launch a start-up, bring a product to market, or scale up at periodic intervals. As such, the EIF needs up-to-date insights that will allow the organisation to design and implement financial instruments covering equity and debt for these entities. Their goal is to promote EU objectives in the areas of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment.


In 2023, Prof. Fisch worked closely with EIF’s Research & Market Analysis divisions to produce the EIF VC Survey—a comprehensive outlook for the year. By contrast to larger and more established VC cultures found in the United States, VC practices within the EU are fragmented, as they operate in accordance with standards and procedures set by individual member-states. This accentuates both the complexity involved with measuring VC activity across the region, while at the same time underscoring the value of the insights produced by Fisch and his fellow researchers.

Prof. Christian Fisch in his office at the Kirchberg Campus

“We are excited for the opportunity to help the EIF retrieve unique market insights into the VC industry in Europe. The survey represents the largest regular exercise of its kind in Europe and we are honoured to be part of this initiative."

The survey gathered 472 responses from VC fund managers mainly in the EU 27 on topics such as market sentiment, scale-up financing, European strategic autonomy, and the role of human capital (particularly skills and diversity). Amongst many insights, the survey showed that the slower pace of new investments and difficulties finding co-investors in 2023 meant decreased competition between investors, and lower entry prices. The exit environment also presented challenges last year—from insufficient liquidity in the IPO market, to ongoing difficulties finding buyers, to decreased prices. Moreover, the survey found that high interest rates have left nearly 80% of fund managers fearful of reduced interest in VC for the year ahead. 

But it is not all bad news. Despite the gloomy perceptions and acute challenges in the VC landscape, the outlook for 2024 is positive. The survey named several sectors of interest to the SnT community as the most promising for VC investments in the near future. Artificial intelligence earned the top spot, closely followed by sectors with a strong digitalisation element such as FinTech, software, and cybersecurity. Following the continued energy and climate crises, investors are also increasingly interested in supporting entrepreneurial activity that can facilitate decarbonisation and an extensive transition to sustainable energy. 

The EIF VC Survey will continue to be produced on an annual basis.