Google Ventures into Europe to find new tech innovation

By Nicole Miskelly | 11 July 2014

Google has announced the creation of a European arm of its venture capital fund, Google Ventures.  In a recent blog post this week, Bill Maris (Managing Partner, Google Ventures) broadcasted that Google Ventures is launching the new $100 million fund, to help support the next generation of European entrepreneurs. “Our goal is simple: we want to invest in the best ideas from the best European entrepreneurs, and help them bring those ideas to life.”

This move comes at a time when many European countries are establishing themselves as tech hubs and more start-up initiatives are emerging in Europe. Whether this is down to the drive of people in Europe to become innovators or the fact that younger generations are eager to develop their ideas, Financial Technology start-ups are in big demand and large financial institutions and payment providers are investing in such initiatives to source innovative new technology. In bobsguide’s recent interview with Nektarios Liolios, Managing Director of Startupbootcamp FinTech (one of Europe’s most prominent accelerators) he said that they decided to bring the programme to London because “London is the financial services capital of the world, anybody who is anybody is in London.”

The Financial Times (FT) reports that Google believes the region will soon become home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world and according to David Drummond (Senior Vice-President, Corporate Development, Google), many of these companies will have begun as start-ups. “Every European capital I travel to I see these start-up clusters. It’s obvious that great companies will come out of these ecosystems.”

Google Ventures was established in 2009 to help entrepreneurs through investment and support, starting off with an initial $100 million per year in the US which has increased to $300 million invested in over 250 companies. Up until recently Google Ventures has focused its investments on Silicon Valley companies such as Uber, a start-up and transportation network company based in San Francisco, California, that makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire. Headquarters for the European arm will be in Clerkenwell, London near the Silicon Roundabout which is home to many eager tech groups.

With four general partners, which the FT reports include Google Europe exec Eze Vidra, entrepreneur Tom Hulme, angel investor Peter Read, Code.org UK head Avid Larizadeh and tech blogger turned venture capitalist, MG Siegler, the unit looks set to conquer Europe.

According to Maris, Google sees the potential in Europe particularly due to the number of successful companies that have emerged from this region recently. “We believe Europe’s start-up scene has enormous potential. We’ve seen compelling new companies emerge from places like London, Paris, Berlin, the Nordic region and beyond—SoundCloud, Spotify, Supercell and many others.”

So, why is Europe so successful when it comes to innovation? Some people believe that European innovation is more creative, more robust and more structured than other countries. Europe is also the home to many innovative technologies in recent times such as 3D printing which was invented by a French engineer. London for example, is seeing a huge rise in innovation and is a hub for entrepreneurs from all over the world, not only Europe. London which is home to Canary Wharf, houses some of the major global banks and has been named a global financial services hub, and according to research employs 44,000 people in fintech, compared to 43,000 in New York and just 11,000 in Silicon Valley.

This announcement from Google is great news for start-ups in Europe hoping to establish ties with the internet giant and probably won’t come as a surprise to companies that have seen this move coming. Google is not the first internet company to invest in start-ups, Facebook Inc. this year agreed to spend $19 billion for messaging start-up WhatsApp Inc (co-founded by Jan Koum who was born in Ukraine) and there will undoubtedly be many more companies that will follow suit. What this move does do however, is put Europe on the map as one of the leading places to discover tech innovation.

 

By Nicole Miskelly, bobsguide Lead Journalist

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