European News Briefs, December 2011


Index Credits Phone Card Innovator

Chip card payment company iZettle has banked €8.2 million ($11.2 million) in Series A funding from London-based Index Ventures, Creandum and British mobile phone entrepreneur Charles Dunstone.

The Swedish company allows anyone to take secure chip-and-pin credit or debit card payments via an iPhone app and a small card reader that attaches to the smartphone.

It will use the funding to expand outside Sweden, a market in which it has until now given away its card readers for free, while charging €0.16 (22 cents) per transaction, plus 2.75% of the purchase price.

“IZettle is a company with the right technology at the right time,” said Ben Holmes, the Index partner who joins iZettle’s board, in a statement.

The company is Stockholm-based Creandum’s second investment of the year.


App-DNA Splice Proves a Marvelous Mutation

The announced acquisition of software company App-DNA by Citrix Systems has generated a 32x return for Foresight Group and Matrix Private Equity Partners (the PE arm of the Matrix Group).

Once the deal is completed, London-based Matrix will earn £16.4 million ($26.2 million) from the £58 million ($92 million) sale, while Foresight will realize £25 million ($40 million), having invested £777,000 originally.

Both firms spotted potential when App-DNA decided to commercialize a software tool developed at Camwood Enterprises to help businesses transition from one operating platform to another.

Popularity of the AppTitude migration platform heightened following the release of Microsoft Windows 7 and the proliferation of cloud computing.

Matrix invested in App-DNA through its Income and Growth VCT and the company is its first exit to be announced in 2011.


Not so SmartMembranes

German firm Leonardo Venture has called time on its short-lived investment in SmartMembranes.

Leonardo took a 16.7% share in the Halle, Germany -based company in February 2011, describing it as the basis for further investments and long-term cooperation.

By October, though, Leonardo had conceded that although SmartMembrane’s technology was “ground-breaking,” both the company and its market were not yet ready to generate sustained revenue.

The firm returned its stake at face value, having not made any additional investments.

The re-sale to the company’s founders was permitted under the original investment agreement, provided SmartMembranes failed to reach a certain turnover.

SmartMembranes, founded in 2009, produces macro- and non-porous silicon and aluminum-oxide membranes.


Radionomy Tunes to American Airwaves

Internet radio site Radionomy has raised its aerial for about $15 million of financing.

The company has enlisted French investment bank Bryan Garnier to help source funding, which will be used to push into the North American market and restructure its existing European business, according to the website Journal du Net.

Radionomy allows users to set up and share their own radio stations and now streams 1 million hours of radio a day,

The company, founded in 2008, handles royalties due to music labels and takes a cut of advertising revenue generated by the stations.

Of its 14 million unique users per month, about one-third are located in North America.

Radionomy had previously raised about $2 million in seed and angel funding.


Glowing Support for Sirigen

Fluorescent detection specialist Sirigen has raised $3 million in a fourth round of funding, led by YFM Equity Partners and supported by existing investors IQ Capital, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts and Oxford Capital Partners.

YFM participated through its Seraphim Capital fund, which had previously co-invested with Oxford Capital in Sirigen in 2008.

Sirigen, which has now raised £10 million ($16 million) in total funding, employs polymer technology to improve the sensitivity of drug discovery tests and diagnostic processes in hospital.

The company launched Brilliant Violet, its first High Sensitivity Fluorescence technology, in 2010 and has promised the imminent release of further products.


Forbion Staggers Biotech Entries

Life sciences-focused Forbion Capital Partners completed a busy October with two investments.

The Dutch firm became the latest convert to biotechnology company Curetis, leading a €9.6 million ($13.2 million) expansion round together with Roche Venture Fund and existing backer CD-Venture.

Stuttgart-based Curetis provides a diagnostic solution for pneumonia and has now raised €37 million ($51 million) from a host of VCs, including Aeris Capital, BioMedPartners, Life Sciences Partners and German government development bank KfW.

Meanwhile, Forbion was also active in Austria, joining Paris-based Sofinnova Partners in a €7 million ($10 million) Series A round in Hookipa, which engineers vaccines for viral diseases.

Hookipa is at an earlier stage of development than Curetis and will use the funding to support pre-clinical trials, whereas the German company is preparing for clinical trials ahead of European launch of its product in 2012.


Impuls Purchase

BaltCap, a private equity and venture capital investor in the Baltic states, has pumped funds into Lithuanian gym chain Impuls LTU.

The investment will support expansion of Impuls, which currently owns eight gyms, but spots the potential for plenty more in what it describes as an underserved market.

Although the investment size was undisclosed, BaltCap’s Lithuania SME fund typically invests up to €3 million ($4 million) per company.

The €20 million ($28 million) fund is comprised of €14 million of European Investment Fund (EIF) money and €6 million from local financial institutions, including Sweden’s SEB Venture Capital and Swedbank.

It is BaltCap’s second Lithuanian investment in 2011 following the June purchase of 60% of Lithuanian building systems provider Ygle.

The firm has also made several investments in Latvia through a similar EIF-backed fund.