Europe’s nine hottest tech firms right now

Arjun Kharpal

Europe is producing more $1-billion-dollar technology start-ups -- or "unicorns" -- than ever before, as investors pour money into the region's stars.

Funding for tech firms in the region almost doubled from $2.88 billion in 2014 to $5.65 billion so far this year, according to GP Bullhound, the technology-focused investment bank.

As part of London Technology Week, an awards ceremony -- The Europas -- identified some of Europe's hottest tech companies, with a panel of judges made up of venture capitalists and journalists deciding the victors.

Companies were nominated across 25 different categories, including best e-commerce start-up and best entertainment start-up.

Here are some of the winners.

Best Entertainment Start-up

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Winner: Spotify

Despite being nine years old, music-streaming service Spotify won this award, as it continues to "change the music industry," according to the organizers of The Europas.

The Swedish start-up recently raised a $526 million round of funding giving it a valuation of over $8 billion. Spotify has 20 million paying subscribers, and 75 million members overall.

But Spotify has come under fire from those in the music industry and has been accused of paying low royalties to artists. Last year, pop star Taylor Swift pulled her whole music collection off the platform in protest.

Spotify is now competing in an extremely tough market with competition from the likes of Apple Music, Jay Z's Tidal service and Google.

Other nominees in the category included Shazam and Soundcloud.


Best E-Commerce Start-up

Deliveroo

Winner: Deliveroo

It seems that we cannot get enough of food delivery companies, and Deliveroo impressed the judges most.

The London-based start-up allows people to order food from restaurants like Ping Pong and Gourmet Burger Kitchen and have it delivered. Earlier this year, Deliveroo received a $25 million round of funding from Accel Partners.

Other nominees included another food service Delivery Hero and Hello Fresh.


Best Mobile Start-up

Citymapper

Winner: Citymapper

Citymapper won three awards at The Europas including "best travel start-up" and the coveted "grand prix" prize.

It's an U.K.-based urban navigation app designed to help people get around some of the world's biggest cities.

Last year, Citymapper got a $10 million round of funding led by London-based Balderton Capital.

Other nominees in the category included YPLan and Wallapop.


Best FinTech Start-up

Adyen

Winner: Adyen

Adyen is Netherlands' first "unicorn" and provides much of the back-end technology for online, mobile and in-store payment systems.

Last year, the Dutch company raised a $250 million round of funding led by General Atlantic, Temasek and Index Ventures.

Fintech has become an increasingly hot space, with companies looking to disrupt the businesses of major financial institutions.

Other nominees in the category included money transfer service TransferWise, and peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle.


Best Cybersecurity Start-up

Digital Shadows

Winner: Digital Shadows

Cybersecurity has been in the headlines over the past year following a number of high-profile attacks on companies.

Digital Shadows describes itself as a "cyber threat intelligence company" aimed at protecting businesses from dangerous hack attacks and data loss.

The London-based start-up recently bagged $8 million in funding.

Other nominees included email encryption company Whiteout Networks and security intelligence firm Cyberlytic.


Best Cryptocurrency Start-up

Blockchain

Winner: Blockchain

Blockchain is the world's most popular bitcoin wallet provider, offering storage and enabling people to buy things with the cryptocurrency.

The company also provides information and data on the block chain – the public ledger of bitcoin transactions.

A number of investors have questioned the future of bitcoin, claiming that the underlying block chain technology will be more important in the future. Still, this has not stopped people talking about the digital currency.

Last year, Blockchain raised $30.5 million in funding, after rival Bitpay announced a $30-million funding round.

Other nominees in the category included bitcoin payment processing company Bitpay, and a bitcoin transaction start-up Safello.

Best Games Start-up

Google Play Store

Winner: Space Ape Games

So-called "casual gamers" are set to drive $30 billion of revenues to the mobile games markets this year, according to market research firm Newzoo, and start-ups are capitalizing on this.

Space Ape Games is a mobile gaming company behind popular title Samurai Seige.

The British start-up raised $7 million of funding at the end of last year led by Accel Partners.

Other nominees in the category included Moshi-Monster-maker Mind Candy and another mobile gamemaker, Omnidrone.


Best Share Economy Start-up

Hassle.com

Winner: Hassle.com

Everything nowadays is on-demand and can be ordered from a smartphone. At The Europas, it was Hassle.com – a service that allows you to order a cleaner straight to your door – that took the prize in this category.

The sharing economy refers to the swathe of start-ups that allows users to rent things owned by others, such as Airbnb or BlaBlaCar.

Hassle.com raised around $6 million in a funding round last year.

Other nominees in the category included ridesharing app BlaBlaCar, and parking space booking app JustPark.