Nov 22, 2008

Business -QlikTech named European High-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year

Jennifer L. Schenker

The winner of this year’s Audemars Piguet Changing Times Award is QlikTech, a company I wrote about earlier this year when BusinessWeek profiled Europe’s billion dollar babies. The award goes to the best young high-tech company originating in Europe that has demonstrated hyper-growth and a disruptive business model.

QlikTech, which was founded in Sweden in 1993 and had sales last year of $80 million, makes business intelligence software tools to help companies analyze and interpret information stored in corporate databases.

Now headquartered in Radnor, Penn., it has over 10,000 clients in 90 countries. When I wrote about it last February Joe Golden, a partner at Accel, one of QlikTech’s investors, referred to it as “the hottest software company to come out of Europe since SAP and Business Objects.” At the time QlikTech had hired Morgan Stanley as its investment banker in preparation for an initial public offering, and industry sources expected the valuation to be at least $1 billion. The company is still gaining traction—it’s growing at a rate of 75% annually—but an IPO is not a realistic exit near term for any company in the current economic environment.

A special Audemars Piguet award was additionally given for the first time this year to the best European med-tech company. The winner is CoreValve, which was founded in Paris in 2001 and later funded by venture capital firm Sofinnova Partners. CoreValve's technology allows diseased aortic heart valves to be replaced without the need to crack open patients' chests and perform open heart surgery. Its technology permits aortic valve replacement to be performed via cardiac catheterization. The company, which is now headquartered in Irvine, Calif., racked up $50 million in sales this year and is expected to do triple that amount next year. Some 2,000 patients in Europe already have benefited from its technology

The winner of the Next Gem award, an award given each year by Audemars Piguet to the best young company, is Britain's Alfresco. The company, which makes open-source content management software, was founded by two veterans in the software sector: John Powell, the former chief operating officer of Business Objects, and John Newton, the co-founder of Documentum, a traditional content management company. Before Alfresco came along only 25% of companies could afford content management software. Some 60,000 organizations use Alfresco's software for free, and around 700 pay to subscribe to use the service more effectively. The company aims to be profitable by next year.

Audemars Piguet's Changing Times awards are the initiative of the European Tech Tour Association, a 10-year-old not-for-profit association that connects Europe's best start-ups with investors. The winner of the 2006 Changing Times award was MySQL, which was sold to Sun Microsystems for $1 billion in January of this year.

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