Biweekly VC Insights by Uniborn #34

Inside: Eastern European venture trends and climate and defense fusion
Barbara Krassner
🇬🇪 Uniborn Team
3 min read

Hey everyone! While Sam Altman is busy reshaping the global semiconductor industry with trillions of dollars, we're cooking up some insights – check out what we gathered for today, and be sure to hit the subscribe button!

🔥 Another AI breakthrough — and puppies are included!

Remember when a New York startup, Runway AI, wowed us with its ability to generate videos of cows at birthday parties and dogs chatting on smartphones just by typing a sentence? 

Well, OpenAI has stepped up the game with Sora, a new tool that churns out cinematic-quality video clips from text or images. Sure, there are some quirks, like the occasional extra paw on a cat, but this feels like another monumental leap in AI, like the advent of ChatGPT. 

While Sora isn't available for the masses (yet), OpenAI has teased us with some mind-blowing sample videos to keep us hooked.

Yes, these cuties are generated. (Image: OpenAi YouTube channel)
Yes, these cuties are generated. (Image: OpenAi YouTube channel)

For more, see The New York Times article.

🔥 Fintech in Europe is passing the torch to green technologies, but some aren't as green as we'd hope

In 2022, fintech firms ruled the roost in the domain of investment rounds, but by 2023, they were dethroned by the rise of eco-technologies, particularly those focusing on energy solutions. Sifted warned about this, and now it is coming true. And, of course, there is a caveat.

While many companies are developing technologies to benefit the global environment, an increasing number of these innovations also have military applications. Take, for instance, the British company Aalto Haps, which designs solar-powered stratospheric gliders. While they can aid in monitoring natural disasters like floods and forest fires, they also have potential military surveillance usages, as evidenced by Aalto's agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence. 

With environmental challenges and geopolitical tensions rising, we will witness a surge in dual-use technologies: drones, materials engineering, weather modification, and more.

To learn more about merging disparate markets, see the Sifted review on stratospheric flights.

🔥 Romania emerges as the dark VC horse

For those keen on Eastern Europe's venture capital landscape, a glance at the latest How to Web analytics is a must.

  • While 84% of venture investments in the region originate from six countries — Poland, Greece, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Romania — Poland leads the pack with €466 million.
  • However, Romania emerges as the unexpected star. Venture deals there surged by 27.4%, soaring from €101.7 million in 2022 to €129.6 million in 2023. Impressively, this marks the third consecutive year Romania has surpassed the significant €100 million milestone for Eastern Europe.
  • Investment also saw upticks in Greece and Lithuania, albeit decreases were observed in Estonia and Poland.
Image: How to Web
Image: How to Web
  • In 2023, late-stage investments dominated at 75%, totaling €1.37 billion. This year, expect a more balanced mix with seed and pre-seed rounds.
  • Almost 79% of the total investment came from subsequent rounds. This activity was typical for Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, and Romania.
Image: How to Web
Image: How to Web

For more, see the How to Web report.

🔥 A pinch of positivity for dessert

According to Tech.eu, nearly €5 billion was poured into European technologies just last week – quite impressive, huh? The excitement isn't just limited to big deals but also to angel investment activity, as noted by our founder.

Image: Dmitry's account on Linkedin
Image: Dmitry's account on Linkedin

Cover image: Unsplash

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