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USD2.891bn invested in data and insights industry in 2018

A total of USD2.891 billion was invested in the data and insights industry last year, either through venture capital or private equity. Market research is now receiving funding comparable to sectors such as Energy and IT Hardware, with recorded VC investment of USD1.75 billion and USD2.28 billion respectively according to PitchBook data VC investment. 

The average transaction size was USD43.1 million – an increase of 63 per cent after a corresponding 69 per cent jump the year before. Of the 173 investors who invested in market research and insights in 2018, over 90 of them are completely new to the sector. There was more Series C funding raised than at any time in the last five years and at the same time more Series A and B funds was invested than at any time since 2014.

Tech enabled data and insights companies represent a huge opportunity for growth for investors as AI, Automation, VR, augmented reality, and now even blockchain become imbedded in the market research sector. In the analytics arena, the big standout was video analytics. Sensetime, a Hong Kong-based facial recognition and video analytics firm that has become a “unicorn” in just four years – received two infusions of USD600+ million each from Alibaba and others.
Cambiar Capital Funding Index tracked 67 discreet investment transactions in 2018 – down from the peak of 152 in 2014 and a drop from last year’s 86 transactions. But those 67 infusions resulted in USD2.89 billion being pumped into the industry – a 27 per cent increase on the year before.
In addition to the bigger transactions in market research from previous years, there were also investments in smaller, emerging enterprises in areas such as audience measurement, data collection platforms, advertising effectiveness, segmentation, communities, panels and medical MR.
Addie Learner, Principle at VC firm General Catalyst, investor in banking tech company Monzo, along with AI driven qualitative research agency ReMesh, says: “The research and insight industry was screaming for more innovation and over the course of the last decade tech driven solutions such as AI and automation has created a tech differentiation that is truly a driver of value creation for broader business.”
CEO of investment firm FOINCO, Bjorn Erik Reinseth, says: “Market and consumer insight is contagious; the more you know, the more you want to know. I’m always attracted to companies where I see an easy rationale for their existence. Tech enabled companies in this area are not just flavour of the month, but I’m quite convinced there is scope for considerable growth there.”
Finn Raben, Director General of ESOMAR, the global association for data and insights says: “Ten years ago there were some that claimed the industry would be dead by now, but what we’ve seen is technology changing the paradigm, and breathing new life into an industry that remains the cornerstone for intelligent business decisions.”

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