Nordic VC optimism is driven by high-quality investment opportunities, shows a new report by Copenhagen Economics
The recent years have seen a revival of the Nordic venture scene with more than 3 billion euros raised by VC funds in the Nordic region over the last five years. 
A new Copenhagen Economics report The Role of Venture Capital for Economic Growth in the Nordics 2018, commissioned by the four Nordic venture capital and private equity associations, shows strong market optimism. Nordic VCs are increasingly optimistic about the future of VC in the Nordics, with 59% of investors viewing the future more positively today compared to just 12 months ago. Two thirds of VC optimism is driven by a growing number of prominent Nordic startups and thus, high-quality investment opportunities.
The optimism is not unfounded. Scaleup density in the Nordics is far ahead of the European average of one scaleup per 100,000 people. The Nordics are home to almost 1,000 scaleups, which amounts to 3.4 scaleups per 100,000 inhabitants. 
Companies founded in the Nordics attract investments increasingly both from within and outside of the region. Over the past five years, a total of 2.7 billion euros was invested into Nordic startups, out of which non-Nordic VCs’ contribution amounts to a whopping 1 billion euros. Adding up to the strengthening internationalization of the region, Nordic VCs have invested a total of 600 million euros into startups based outside of the Nordic countries within the same period. 
Moreover, half of the Nordic VCs (50%) say they are more optimistic about their fund returns than they were a year ago. The U.S. continues to dominate as the most prominent exit location among Nordic VCs, with 50% of investors choosing it as the exit location with the most potential over the next 12 months.
– The Nordics are undergoing what I call the entrepreneurial renaissance: the best talent is flooding into startups, successful founders are proud to give back to build the ecosystem, and society values entrepreneurs highly. With the Nordic ’global from day one’-attitude and generally high skill levels, we continue to see an over proportionally high share of unicorns from the Nordics, comments Timo Ahopelto, Founding Partner at Lifeline Ventures.
– The Nordic region has seen an extraordinary number of success stories in recent years. A new generation of ambitious entrepreneurs are starting new businesses and reinvesting into the ecosystem. The capital provides necessary leverage that can be used to further fuel economic growth, says Ekaterina Gianelli, Investment Director at Inventure.
The Nordics set out to compete for global capital flows and talent to foster growth companies
Despite market optimism, high scaleup density, and VC investments as a share of GDP ranking above OECD levels in three out of four Nordic countries, the Nordics still lag behind globally leading VC markets such as the U.S., Israel and China. Yearly VC investments are roughly 0.04% of GDP in the Nordic region, versus 0.02% in the EU as whole, 0.33% in the US and 0.38% in Israel.
Although fundraising has been strong and average VC fund sizes have grown during recent years in the Nordics, fund sizes still remain below the average of Western European and U.S. funds. Further, statistics show that the average investment size in the Nordics is 1.2 million euros, while European average reaches considerably higher figure of 1.7 million euros. 
71% of Nordic VCs believe there is room for larger VC funds in the region. Currently, many of the successful later-stage growth companies in the Nordics must find funding abroad once they have reached a certain size – typically in relation to international expansion, as analyzed by Copenhagen Economics.
Policy recommendations to boost growth in the Nordics
To increase the region’s attractiveness, the report defines a set of new policy recommendations that fall under the following categories: clear, competitive, and foreseeable tax environment (1), proportionality in regulating VC funds (2), mobilizing institutional investors (3), and creating and incentivizing talent (4).
– The Nordics are a great place to invest in for everyone. We have the qualifications, the infrastructure, and the ecosystem to make the Nordics the best hub in Europe for high-tech startups. Now we need to put all the ingredients together in the right way to make this work. I am very confident, says Henriette Kinnunen, CEO of DVCA.
– Many startup-friendly policies are already in place in all the Nordic countries. Certain measures could, however, still be taken to develop the operational environment further. Companies choose a country that best supports their growth, and we are dedicated to working at all levels to urge policymakers to put the Nordic startup and VC scene and its attractiveness in the eyes of global investors, talent and companies on top of their agenda, comments Pia Santavirta, Managing Director of FVCA.
– The activity and quality of the startup scene in the Nordics have been impressive in recent years. The success stories of VC-backed companies highlight both the promise of the region, but also the fact that if we want to create more global companies based in the Nordics we need more and larger venture capital funds to finance and support companies wanting to scale their business, states CEO of NVCA, Rikke Eckhoff Høvding
– Venture capital is a great force in future proofing Nordic businesses. If the Nordics fully utilized their industry potential within ICT and life science, the VC markets could double in size, as Copenhagen Economics suggests in their new report, says CEO of SVCA, Isabella de Feudis.
The Role of Venture Capital for Economic Growth in the Nordics 2018 report is a joint project between Finnish Venture Capital Association FVCA), Danish Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (DVCA), Norwegian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (NVCA), and Swedish Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (SVCA), carried out by leading Nordic economic consultancy Copenhagen Economics.
Sigurd Næss-Schmidt, Partner
+45 5076 3030
Denmark, Danish Venture Capital & Private Equity Association
Henriette Kinnunen, CEO
+45 28 89 21 33
Finland, Finnish Venture Capital Association
Pauliina Martikainen, Head of Communications
+358 45 138 5002
Norway, Norwegian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association
Rikke Eckhoff Høvding, CEO
+47 9908 2202
Sweden, Swedish Venture Capital & Private Equity Association
Isabella de Feudis, CEO
0703-53 63 33
Examples of large funding rounds in the Nordics 2018
Area9 Lyceum €26M
HMD Global €86M
NMD Pharma €38M
Orbex Space €33M
Small Giant Games €33M
Examples of new Nordic VC funds raised 2017-2018
Gorilla Capital €20M
Wave Ventures €1.5M
=Invest Europe / EDC, Copenhagen Economics
=Tech Scaleup Finland 2018 Report, SEP Monitor
=Invest Europe / EDC, Copenhagen Economics
=Invest Europe / EDC