Geektime Report: The state of Finland’s VC and startup ecosystem
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Flag of Finland, Helsinki. Photo Credit: Olga Smirnova / Shutterstock

Flag of Finland, Helsinki. Photo Credit: Olga Smirnova / Shutterstock

We have compiled data from leading sources to help you quickly grasp what Finland’s venture capital and startup scene has to offer

Geektime

Did you know that Finland is one of the most innovative countries in the world? It ranks fourth on Cornell University’s Global Innovation Index, Bloomberg’s index of most innovative countries, and the World Economic Forum‘s global competitiveness report. The National Science Foundation also classified Finland as the country with the third highest R&D/GDP ratio (3.8%) in the world.

Its unique combination of high-end research, education, innovation and technology makes it stand out in the European Union and the world at large. Both the Finnish government and Nokia have contributed immensely to the fact that Finland has become one of the major tech hubs outside of Silicon Valley. They have helped both local and foreign startups grow through funding and beneficial policies, such as government incentives to foster and promote innovation. Another contributor to this success is the rich collaboration and knowledge transfer between startups and Finland’s higher education institutions and R&D centers.

Finland is widely known for the success of its gaming startups such as Rovio and Supercell, but other sectors including cleantech, health and mobile are also doing remarkably well.

This report aims to provide you with a snapshot of Finland’s startup and venture capital ecosystem. It features data from the last four years about VC and angel investments, funding rounds, startups, unicorns (billion-dollar companies), exits and more. The data in this report is based on our own research, with details about our sources at the end. We welcome you to check out this ecosystem and consider all of the opportunities it holds.

Country at a glance

Total area 338,000 square kilometers
Time UTC + 2 hours during winter, UTC + 3 hours during summer
Population 5.4 million; 67% live in towns or urban areas, 33% in rural areas
Largest cities by population (2013) Helsinki (603,968), Espoo (256,824), Tampere (217,421), Vantaa (205,312), Oulu (190,847) and Turku (180,225)
Neighboring countries Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Russia
Languages Finnish 91.2%, Swedish 5.5%, Other 3.3%
Ethnic Makeup Finn 93.4%, Swede 5.6%, Russian 0.5%, Estonian 0.3%, Roma 0.1%, Sami 0.1%
Origin of GDP Agriculture: 2.9%, Industry: 25.1%, Services: 71.9%
Unemployment 8.1%
Largest companies in Finland Sampo, Fortum, Nokia, UPM-Kymmene, Kone, Pohjola Bank, Neste Oil, Stora Enso, Wärtsilä, Metso, Outokumpu, Kesko


Main funding rounds above $1 million in 2014

In 2014, Finnish startups raised over $145 million. These are all the companies that raised more than $1 million:

Company Capital Raising (in millions of dollars) City Sector Month of Last Round
Rovio 28.1 Espoo Gaming June
Indoor Atlas 13.9 Oulu Mobile September
Mendor 12.64 Espoo Health and Wellness July
Jolla 12.4 Helsinki Mobile December
BetterDoctor 10 San-Francisco (Previously Espoo) Health and Wellness July
Beddit 8.5 Espoo Health and Wellness September
Seriously 7.7 Helsinki Gaming November
Playraven 6.4 Helsinki Gaming December
Next Games 6 Helsinki Gaming January
Senseg 6 Helsinki Software April
Cyberlightning 4.2 Oulu Mobile August
Blueprint Genetics 3.9 Helsinki Health and Wellness September
Boomlagoon 3.6 Helsinki Gaming May
Small Giant Games 3.1 Helsinki Gaming October
Mekitec 2.8 Helsinki Hardware May
Kyynel 2.7 Oulu Hardware August
Transfluent 2 Helsinki Internet January
HeiaHeia 1.9 Helsinki Health and Wellness April
Holvi 1.4 Helsinki Finance May
Spectral Engines 1.2 Espoo Hardware June
Sharetribe 1 Helsinki Software November

Key charts to understand Finland’s startup ecosystem in 2014

June was the highest fundraising month, with $29.3 million raised. September scored second, with $26.3 million.

Untitled

While gaming still comprises most high-level startups in Finland, health and wellness startups are becoming a close second.

1

However, investors still prefer gaming ($54.9 million) over health and wellness ($36.94 million). After health and wellness, the mobile sector also raised a significant amount of capital: $30.5 million.

2

Helsinki is by far the favorite hub for startups, outnumbering other cities by a factor of at least three.

3

However, Helsinki barely raised more money than Espoo. This could indicate that Espoo will experience a startup boom in the near future.

4

 

What VC and angel investment data reveals about the number of investments in startups in 2014

Among the various reasons Geektime decided to focus on Finland as a region of interest is that Finland has the highest number of active investors in the Nordic region, according to the Nordic Web. Though 2014 saw a drop in early stage startup investment (€206 million) from 2013 (€279 million), this was mainly due to the fact that Supercell had a €100 million funding round, as reported in a March 2015 analysis compiled by the Finnish Business Angels Network (FiBAN) and Finnish Venture Capital Association (FVCA) about Finnish tech companies in 2014.

FiBAN’s results

FiBAN presented their survey data on Finnish business angel activity in 2014. With data collected from 200 angels, they concluded that in 2014, Finnish angels invested €21 million in 238 startups. This is a record amount in comparison to 2013, when angels invested €11 million in 164 startups. The total number of angel investments in 2014 was 307. In 2013 it was 234, and in 2012, just 235.

According to the survey, the amount of early-stage investments is one of the highest in Europe. FiBAN’s angels made 1.6 new investments on average in 2014, and the median angel investment was €25,000 and the average €69,000. Besides gaming, the most prominent sectors for early-stage investment were mobile (21%) and cleantech (14%). Investments in the mobile gaming sector cover almost one fifth of all the angel investments in Finland.

FVCA’s results

FVCA (the Finnish Venture Capital Association) reports that during the first three quarters of 2014, there were 76 venture investments in startup companies. In 2013, the total number of venture investments in startup companies constituted 135. In 2012, it was 80.

According to ArcticStartups, the total amount of angel investments in 2013 was about €11 million, a €3 million decrease in comparison to 2012. The average angel investment was €49,000 for 8% of equity in the startup, making the average valuation of an early stage startup €612,500. Forty-seven percent of investments are done at an early stage, though not the seed stage. As the ecosystem becomes more secure, investors are increasingly inclined to invest in later rounds, as evidenced by the drop in seed stage investments from 23% in 2012 to 13% in 2013.

The Nordic Web

The Nordic Web recently reported that Finland has the highest number of active investors. See more information in their spreadsheet of active Nordic investors sortable by stage, location and vertical (available to members only). It’s also worth checking our their data on capital funding in the Nordics (2014).

Number of Finnish startups

Based on Startup100’s research, there are around 850 startups in Finland today. You can find the full list in our guide to the Finnish VC and startup ecosystem: We’ve encountered a similar number of Finnish startups.

However, different sources state much lower numbers of startups. FiBAN reported that 400 startups applied to join FiBAN this year. In 2013, it was 350 and in 2012, merely 200. This correlated with the current number of Finnish startups that Angelist shows: 391. Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, states that they have helped finance 660 startups in 2014.

Startup100, a site that ranks Finnish startups monthly based on their online marketing activities and performance, told Geektime that they keep track of 850 startups at the moment. We can assume that the difference in the numbers is due to the fact that FiBAN, Angelist and Tekes all rely on data that is submitted to them by startup representatives, while we and Startup100 collect the data directly.

Geektime reviewed some of the best Finnish startups out there in this post.

Number of unicorns (billion-dollar companies): 4

Nokia ($28.1 billion), Rovio ($4 billion), Supercell ($3 billion).

Exits in 2014:

Creandum‘s research indicates that Finland had 91 exits in 2014 at the value of $6.3 billion. The Nordic Web claimed there were 15 key exits in Finland in 2014. These are the main exits we’ve identified with the help of Neil Murray from The Nordic Web.

Company’s Name Buyer Date Sum
Applifier Unity Technologies March, 2014 Undisclosed
Nervogrid ALSO Group March, 2014 Undisclosed
ProtoGeo (Moves) Facebook April, 2014 Undisclosed
Pryte Facebook June, 2014 Undisclosed
One Nordic Furniture FAB June, 2014 Undisclosed
drawElements Google July, 2014 Undisclosed
Nonstop Games King August, 2014 $100 million
Uraakmaailma Alma Media August, 2014 Undisclosed
Eucalyptus HP September, 2014 Undisclosed
Ubisecure Global Sign September, 2014 Undisclosed
Continuent VM Ware October, 2014 Undisclosed
GameWorks Next Games October, 2014 Undisclosed
FutureMark UL November, 2014 Undisclosed
Paytrail Nets December, 2014 Undisclosed
Ajelo Split Technologies December, 2014 Undisclosed

Active angels: 34

These include the following prominent investors: Aarne Sipilä, Anne Berner, Anssi Vanjoki, Ari Hyppönen , Ari Korhonen, Eero Lähteenmäki, Esther Dyson, Feodor Aminoff, Hannu Kytölä, Heikki Sundquist, Henric Suuronen, Inka Mero, Jaakko Salminen, Jari Osmala, Jari Ovaskainen, Juha Kurkinen, Jyri Engeström, Kaj Rönnlund, Kari Ollila, Kristian Segerstrale, Marko Ahtisaari, Olli-Pekka Kulmala, Pekka Vartiainen, Petri Lehmuskoski, Raimo Kuismin, Riku Asikainen, Risto Siilasmaa, Sami Etula, Sari Vaajanen, Taneli Tikka, Tarmo Pallari, Yuri Arcurs, David Gardner, and Lars Stenfeldt Hansen.

You can also read Geektime’s interviews with top Finnish angels Petri Lehmuskoski and Riku Asikainen.

Number of VC management companies: 13

These include the following VCs: Aboa Venture, Aura Capital, Butterfly Ventures, Canelco Capital, Conor Venture Partners, Dasos Capital Oy, EQT Partners Oy, Finnvera, Helmet Business Mentors Oy, Inventure, Tekes Venture Capital, Vendep Startup Fund, and MHS Capital.

Number of accelerators and incubators: 19

These include the following accelerators and incubators: Aaltoes, AppCampus, Boost Turku / Startup Farm, Cleantech Invest (Vigo), East Wings (Vigo), Gorilla Ventures (Vigo), Helsinki Ventures (Vigo), KopiCatch (Vigo), Lifeline Ventures (Vigo), Nestholma Imaging Startup Accelarator (NISP1314), YLE Media Startup (Nestholma), NewCo Factory, Newentures (Vigo), Royal Majestics (Vigo), Demola Program (Sanoma), Startup Sauna, Vendep (Vigo), Veturi Venture Accelerator (Vigo), and Frontier.

You can get an inside look into the minds of Finland’s top movers and shakers here.

General sources

1. The Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015

2. National Science Foundation: Chapter 4. Research and Development: National Trends and International Comparisons

3. Invest in Finland

4. Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index ranks S. Korea 1st, snubs U.S. at 6th place

5. Center of international education benchmarking – Finland Overview

6. Global Finance – Finland Country Report

7. Angelist – Finland

8. Startup Ranking

9. Crunchbase

10. Startup100

11. Finnish Business Angels Network (FiBAN)

12. Finland’s Venture Capital Association (FVCA)

13. Tekes

14. Nordic investment activity

15. Creandum Nordic Technology Exit Analysis

16. Creandum: 9% of global Billion dollar exits come from the Nordics

17. OECD – Entrepreneurship at a Glance 2014

18. Arcticstartup – Finnish Angels and VC’s Release Their 2013 Stats

19. Startup Genome – Finland

20. Smart Start – Finland Ecosystem

21. Invest in Finland Publications

22. 2014 Nordic Exit Analysis

23. 2014 Nordic Funding Analysis

24. A Comprehensive Guide to who is Actively Investing in Nordic Startups (Members Article)

25. 100 Tech Investors Active in the Nordics

Edited by Laura Rosbrow

Feature Image Credit: Olga Smirnova / Shutterstock

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Rinat Korbet

About Rinat Korbet


Startup Outreach Manager & Analyst at Geektime. Likes to geek-out, play video games, binge watch and blog about culture and media.

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