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Five Emerging Technology Trends to Watch in Europe

Tech has outperformed the broader market so far in 2020. From next-gen payments and regtech to e-commerce and cybersecurity, what’s next for the industry in Europe?

During a volatile year for markets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, tech has had a very strong performance, outperforming the broader market in 2020 by as much as 25%. Lockdown has accelerated reliance on the internet and technology, with parts of the industry even taking greater market share. Longer term, tech also remains the winner of ongoing structural disruption, including the shift to Artificial Intelligence (AI), innovation in e-commerce and payments, and continued evolution in mobility.

It is apparent that the technology industry is now more important than ever in Europe, and the growth of the J.P. Morgan European Tech Stars Virtual Conference is a testament to that. Eight years ago, average attendance was around 15 companies, with 100 investors. Last year, there were 30 companies over one day with 200 investors and this year attendance has jumped to over 500 investors signed up meeting 40+ companies over two full days.

Ahead of this month’s now virtual J.P. Morgan Euro Tech Stars Conference, we take a deeper look at the rising trends for the industry in Europe, from next-gen payments and regtech to e-commerce and cybersecurity.

1. There Has Never Been a Better Time to Invest in European Tech

In Europe, technology companies and the possibility for investment opportunities are growing at a compelling rate. European tech companies have historically faced challenges in scaling compared to U.S. peers as a result of factors including smaller local markets, multiple languages and payment methods, higher regulatory burdens and a lack of capital. However, we are seeing a reversal and, in some cases, European companies are now taking advantage of certain structural benefits specific to Europe including higher population density which drives economics for e-commerce and local commerce, proximity to the luxury industry and a deep technical talent pool with less competition for it. On top of these advantages, Europe has seen quite a number of its tech companies grow to IPO stage and flourish in the aftermarket including Delivery Hero, Zalando, Trainline and Adyen. The success of these companies has attracted additional capital to the public and private market and is fueling the rapid growth of the next wave of tech stars who will be at the conference.

Matt Quote We have more companies interested in coming than we have space for, so I think that’s also a real indication of the excitement overall from the community and from companies. Matt Gehl Head of EMEA Technology Banking J.P. Morgan

“There are a lot more funds looking to invest into Europe across all stages of company development. We are now comfortably raising private capital rounds that are $200 - $500 million and most of the big institutional investors are doing a lot of private investments in Europe,” said Matt Gehl, Co-Head of EMEA Technology Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan.

As a result of this growth, select banks, including J.P. Morgan, now have dedicated Private Capital Markets teams in Europe that focus on advising on private capital raises for these earlier-stage tech companies. There has also been a greater international focus on Europe, with many U.S. based private equity firms opening offices across Europe.

“We’re seeing more and more high value IPOs. When investors have success, they tend to invest more and that was something Europe never had. Successful IPOs and M&A exits also mean we are building a base of strong founders who have done it before. I’ve been here 20 years and it’s never been more positive,” Gehl said.

The growth and popularity of the industry in Europe can also be seen from how much the J.P. Morgan European Tech Stars conference has grown since its launch.

“We have more companies interested in coming than we have space for, so I think that’s also a real indication of the excitement overall from the community and from companies,” Gehl added.

2. Technology is Transforming Other Industries

Tech is no longer seen as just a stand-alone sector, but as an enabler and partner to a wide array of other industries. Whether its retail, insurance, transportation or healthcare, there is no longer an industry that technology does not impact.

In the age of COVID-19, there have been some obvious winners. While the number of tech IPOs has decreased, many companies have still been able to flourish, especially within the healthcare, food delivery, streaming and e-commerce spheres.

An overall shift of industries online has been one major consequence of lockdown. Due to the amount of people at home, there has been a surge in the use of streaming platforms, a shift of fitness to digital and at home and a huge increase in e-commerce. Telehealth also saw an uptick in use as people could remotely access the care they needed without having to worry about the possible risk of spreading or contracting the disease. This relatively new way of accessing care has been a major disruptor for the healthcare industry, as this technology also allows companies to better track patient’s health, offering accurate diagnoses that lead to better outcomes - all without leaving home.

Other industries, such as transport and travel have also been heavily impacted by COVID-19. On a micro level, mobility has been majorly impacted by technology and due to the many densely populated urban cities in Europe, this landscape is ripe for innovation. The conference will hear from companies innovating across the mobility spectrum, from buses/trains (FLixMobility), micromobility (Tier), vertical takeoff aircraft (Lilium), and electric delivery vehicles (Arrival).

3. Europe is Taking the Lead in Payments

When it comes to payments, both consumers and corporations want the process to be transparent and straightforward. This has been the driving force behind how next-gen payment companies are structuring their products. Companies are now focusing on building payment platforms from the ground up, so they can accept any form of payment as well as offer in-depth analytics so clients don’t need any additional software.

“Companies like SumUp and Checkout, which are both going to be at this year’s conference, are evolving from the ground up. They have been able to build something that can accept pretty much any type of payment, offline or online. They can provide customers with analytics, so they don’t have to go and buy other software. So not surprisingly when next generation tech companies want payments, they look at these firms,” said Gehl.

European startups have become well known for eliminating the pain points associated with traditional banking, such as foreign exchange fees. This has been a great benefit to both consumers and industry, given the multiple currencies and frequency of international travel in the region. A single great product or platform has helped companies like Revolut and Monzo build a loyal following, meaning a ready-made customer base was there when these firms launched a more extensive product range, such as debit cards and full bank accounts.

Reimagining the payment process altogether has also been a key theme among some of Europe’s hottest tech firms. In countries like Germany and Sweden, where there is a major emphasis from consumers on remaining debt-free, there has been an increased focus on the “buy now, pay later” model. Companies like Klarna, which currently process 25% of all e-commerce purchases in Sweden, have found great success.

4. COVID-19 Has Been a Catalyst for Cybersecurity and Regtech

While the COVID-19 crisis has led to increased innovation across technology, there has also been increased scrutiny on cybersecurity. As entire industries transitioned from the office to working from home, it has become critical for companies to maintain a robust cybersecurity plan.

In order to stay ahead of cyber criminals, more cyber tech companies are now using the power of AI to predict things that look suspicious while also identifying and quarantining these bad actors. By using AI, companies are able to stay ahead of hackers.

Companies want to protect themselves from a possible attack, while remaining user friendly for consumers and clients. There has been a major focus on making the “know your customer” or KYC process as painless as possible for new customers. What many regtech companies are currently focusing on is getting new clients on-boarded quickly, but also effectively scanning for any potentially fraudulent activity or transactions that need to be reported. Cybersecurity alone is no longer the main focus for investors - they want a balance between security, maintaining client satisfaction and meeting regulatory requirements.

Matt Quote 2 Cyber is obviously going to become an even bigger theme with COVID-19 and the resulting shift to digital. It is more critical, as work is done remotely, to have really robust cyber offerings. Matt Gehl Head of EMEA Technology Banking J.P. Morgan

“Cyber is obviously going to become an even bigger theme with COVID-19 and the resulting shift to digital. It is more critical, as work is done remotely, to have really robust cyber offerings and the big name in this area that is going to be at the J.P. Morgan European Tech Stars conference is Darktrace,” said Gehl.

5. Europe’s Capitals Are Working to Position As the New Silicon Valley

While the European technology market faces some unique challenges such as multiple languages, more payment methods and differing regulations, this diversity also lends itself to great opportunities.

London, along with Paris and Berlin, has been the focus for much of the venture capital (VC) investment, but in the last couple of years, there has been growth in VC funding being spread across the continent. Both marketing and sales startup, Showpad, which was founded in Ghent, Belgium and Stockholm-based telehealth platform KRY are presenting at this year’s conference and have been beneficiaries of this broadening capital base.

“I think the industry has really spread out. A lot of the financing has come from London and most of the digital fintech banking and payments names are based there - but if you look at the other sectors, the companies are really spread out. With the exception of fintech, financial software and payments, you can’t point to one city that dominates new tech company foundation. If I had to name a few they are Berlin, Munich, Stockholm, Paris and increasingly we are seeing some activity in Barcelona. It is natural that over time the capital bases will slowly start to broaden out from the U.S. and London to a bit more local,” said Gehl.

This year, technology is also enabling the J.P. Morgan European Tech Stars conference to be hosted virtually for the first time, allowing many more investors from across the continent and beyond to attend than ever before.

“While COVID-19 has forced us to rethink the format of this year’s conference, we have had such a great response I think the virtual sessions and meetings will become a permanent fixture. Going forward it will be a mix of face-to-face and virtual presentations - it is so much more efficient for investors. We have over 100 U.S.-based investors sign up this year, so if I were to guess, I think the hybrid model is here to stay,” added Gehl.

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