Navigating the Storm: Global and European VC Investment Dips, but Italy Shows Resilient Growth Amid Economic Challenges

Antonio Prigiobbo
3 min readNov 21, 2023

Naples, [November 21st] — A significant shift is occurring in the global startup landscape: the decline of “unicorns,” or private companies valued at over a billion dollars. This phenomenon, triggered by rising interest rates, is profoundly affecting both the European and Italian scenes.

Europe: Caution and Recalibration In Europe, the startup sector is undergoing a phase of reconsideration. The increase in interest rates has made low-risk investments, such as government bonds, more attractive compared to high-risk options like startups. Consequently, there has been a significant slowdown in the number of new unicorns.

The caution of investors has translated into a greater selection of projects to finance, with an increasing focus on sustainability and the solidity of business models. Although some European startups continue to thrive, the general trend sees a reduction in valuations and a lower availability of venture capital.

Italy: Challenges and Opportunities in a Growing Market Italy, despite having a less mature startup market compared to other European nations, has not been immune to these global dynamics. The rise in interest rates and the consequent caution of investors have made fundraising more complex for Italian startups.

However, the sector in Italy also presents unique opportunities. In recent years, the country has seen an increase in interest towards startups, especially in areas such as technology and digital. This trend, coupled with growing government support and local innovation initiatives, could offer new avenues for the growth of Italian startups.

A New Era for Startups In this changed context, entrepreneurs in Europe and Italy are reconsidering their strategies. The growing emphasis on sustainability and long-term profitability is pushing startups to focus less on rapid expansion and more on building solid and resilient business foundations.

In conclusion, while the era of unicorns is undergoing a decline, this could represent an opportunity for more balanced and sustainable growth in the startup sector. The challenge for entrepreneurs will be to navigate this new landscape, balancing innovation and sustainability in an ever-evolving market.

Globally: In the second quarter of 2023, venture capital-backed companies raised $29.4 billion, down from $44.4 billion in the first quarter of 2023. This represents a 34% decrease.

In Europe: In the second quarter of 2023, venture funding in Europe was $12.4 billion, unchanged from the previous quarter, but down 50% from the $24.7 billion invested in the second quarter of 2022. Additionally, about 18% of global venture capital was invested in Europe-based startups. European startups operating in artificial intelligence raised $1.5 billion in the second quarter of 2023, representing 12% of the continent’s total funding.

In Italy: In Italy, venture funding reached $1.7 billion this year, with a forecasted growth of 64% year-over-year, while overall European investment is down by about 9%. The third quarter of 2022 was the most active quarter ever for venture funding in Italy, surpassing records set in the first quarters of 2022 and 2021.

Based on these data, I can now create a chart illustrating the trend of venture capital investments globally, in Europe, and in Italy.

Here is the chart showing the trend of venture capital investments in the second quarter of 2023 globally, in Europe, and in Italy. As can be seen, the level of investment is significantly higher globally compared to Europe and Italy, with Italy showing a smaller figure in comparison, but still growing.

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Antonio Prigiobbo

Designer, Author and Innovation Hunter. Civic Hacker and Social Investor. I 💙 #StartUp, #Napoli e il #Sud! #TransMedia Storyteller Design Thinking @NAStartUp