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June 25, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:09pm

EUROPEAN HIGH FLYERS – THE BEST OF THE REST

By CBR Staff Writer

Over the past few weeks, Computergram has been highlighting 20 of the most interesting European high-technology companies in a series of articles that first appeared in Computer Business Review. Here is a look at those that didn’t quite make the list.

Picking a mere 20 technology companies from a continent of 30 loosely integrated economies leaves the stories of many hot companies untold. There are literary hundreds of companies that are backed as potential winners by European and US venture capital firms, by major industry vendors, and by others with a stake in seeing European start-ups flourish. So where are the other big bets going? For the most part the answer is on the region’s software companies. Mergers and acquisitions specialist Broadview Associates, which recently broadened its scope with the launch of a European venture capital fund, fancies two UK companies: UbiSoft Ltd, supplier of entertainment software that exploits the multimedia capabilities of the Intel MMX chip, and Druid Group Plc, a consultancy that implements SAP AG’s R/3 software. O2 Technology SA, the object database company, is one of the picks of Dutch-firm Atlas Ventures, as is Diagonal SA, a Year 2000 software company, Erli SA, whose mission is to deliver natural language text search technology, BinTec Communications GmbH, a specialist in ISDN internetworking products, and Micronas Semiconductor Holdings AG, a maker of custom semiconductors. Also in Holland, Gilde Venture Funds likes the source of the SuperNova application development tool Four Seasons Software BV, scanner maker ScanView AS, neural supercomputer company Parsytec GmbH, and Zapa Digital Arts Ltd, an early leader in 3D VRML technology. Warburg Pincus from Silicon Valley, meanwhile, has invested heavily in White Cross Systems Ltd, a UK-based maker of data warehousing systems. Others favor investments closer to home. France Telecom’s venture arm, for example, is currently behind French semiconductor material maker Soitec SA and SLP Statistiques SA, a provider of decision support software. Banexi Venture Capital, also of France, likes Diagonal, Soitec, and ArSciMed (now known as Animation Scoence Corp), a company with software that allows architects, engineers and scientists to simulate and visualize complex phenomena. And France-based Sofinnova is pumping money into GC Tech Inc, a secure electronic commerce software company, and MediaPhonics SA, a computer telephone integration start-up. Within the UK’s modest seed funding sector there is 3i backing Digital Animations Plc, a PC games and bespoke presentation animation services provider, and Prism Technologies Ltd, a software integration specialist. Elsewhere, German-based TVM Techno Venture Management likes ATecoM GmbH, a specialist in systems for delivering video across ATM networks. In the same field, several backers are behind the UK’s ATM Ltd including Oak Investment and Sequoia Capital. Historically, the major supporter of ATM Ltd has been Italian systems and services giant Olivetti. That kind of relationship is not uncommon. Many small companies receive their funding through equity investments from larger partners. Argonaut Software Ltd, one of several UK 3D games start-ups, has LSI Logic partially funding it. And London-based DBMX Ltd, which offers enterprise systems management software based on Tivoli, boasts Oracle and IBM as backers. There are many other companies that simply have a undeniable buzz about their activities in the marketplace. Oxford Molecular Group Plc, a producer of drug design software, is certainly hot property. Also on numerous hit lists is Cyrano SA, a French software testing tools vendor, and Nat Systems SA an application development tools vendor. Of the few Internet companies that are making waves, Eidos Plc, the Web videoconferencing start-up from the UK, is tipped to be a major worldwide force, and Sweden’s EuroSeek, with its pan-European Internet search engine software, could also thrive.

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