Amid a sluggish fundraising environment in France, Verkor just delivered a massive shot of adrenaline.
The Grenoble-based low-carbon battery startup announced this month that it has raised €2 billion in financing, including €850 million from private investors led by Australian asset manager Macquarie and French infrastructure fund Meridiam; a €600 million loan from the European Investment Bank; and €650 million in subsidies from the French government (via its sprawling France 2030 plan). The company had already raised €350 million over 2 previous rounds, making it the undisputed champion of French tech fundraising.
The company checks some critical boxes in terms of the French government's economic strategy. The company's Lithium-ion batteries will power eco-friendly products such as electric cars, a key element of France's Tech For Good agenda. The latest money will be used to accelerate the construction of Verkor's factory in Dunkirk, emblematic of the policy linking startups and manufacturing to create blue-collar jobs. Developing and building such products in France is considered important to maintaining economic and technical sovereignty. And being based in Grenoble, Verkor gives France a unicorn outside of Paris, a sign of hope that venture capitalists can be enticed into backing startups in the nation's territories as well as its capital.
"Why Verkor?" said Co-founder and CEO Benoit Lemaignan. "I think there is no other such project able to have a such big impact both on the climate topic and also the industrial and the sovereignty level."
While Verkor embraces those values, it still faces the task of actually finishing the development of its batteries, scaling its manufacturing, and competing in a global market against several well-funded rivals.