The Nordic region is famous for global tech successes, exciting new companies and vibrant tech hubs with conferences attracting global crowds. But it’s not only about startups. Research from Standout shows that there are also over 4,000 tech-enabled, established and mostly profitable growth companies in the Nordics. And an underserved local growth capital market.
The Nordic region (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland) has a population of 26 million and all Nordic countries are in the top 20 globally measured on BNP per capita (World Bank 2013). The Nordics is a strong and stable economic region, with competitive nations, acknowledged for entrepreneurship, innovation and the high mobile and broadband penetration. Important local tech hubs are established in Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Oslo. In recent years, several global successes have come out of the Nordic region. In short, this region is fertile ground for growth companies with global potential.
According to Standout’s research, there are (in addition to the growing number of startup companies) over 75,000 established companies in the Nordics with revenues between MSEK 20-500, and 25,000 of these are high growth companies. Standout estimates that more than 4,000 of these are relevant from a technology perspective. The 4,000 companies are distributed more or less evenly across the Nordic region; Sweden (approx. 1,500 companies), Norway (approx. 1,000 companies), Denmark (approx. 750 companies) and Finland (approx. 750 companies).
So who is supporting these companies’ growth ambitions?
We have shown in an earlier blog that there are now over 120 different investors active in the Nordic technology market (government agencies, incubators, corporate venture, venture capital firms, investment firms and private equity funds). However, the local growth capital market is underserved with only a handful investment teams with capital funds above MEUR 100 and growth experience addressing this market.
As investors, at Standout Capital we are not only looking at typical technology companies, but how technology is creating opportunities for a wide set of companies. Why?
We are in a great wave of innovation and economic disruption, set off by ever increasing computer power and the advances in information and communication technology. This impacts all of society and business, bringing the digitalisation of companies (in new as well as traditional companies), markets, products, services, jobs and our life on a scale never seen before. There are today around close to 3 billion people online and around 2 billion smartphones. Software, online and mobile technologies are increasingly established in all business sectors and markets, creating a fundament for further business innovation. That offers both challenges and opportunities as technology transforms new areas, like healthcare, education and finance. We expect this evolution to create outstanding opportunities for established businesses as well as new entrants, and both entrepreneurs and investors are positioned to benefit from this mega trend that is expected to continue for decades.
Technology markets and industries are truly global, in the sense that competition is global and every company in a technology market (and increasingly, most markets will be technology) is going to face world class competition coming from anywhere. Furthermore, the consumer and enterprise market opportunities for a company are global, and the resources needed to build a business are also global. With new online infrastructures, for example in marketing and distribution, the world is increasingly flat. Anyone can source manufacturing in China using Alibaba, sell apps in the USA using App Store and advertise using Google. As a sign of this globalization, technology innovation is clustered in a number of hot spots or regions around the world, most notably Silicon Valley in the US, but also cities like London, Boston, Tel Aviv, Shanghai and Mumbai. The Nordic region is today established as one of the most vibrant tech regions.
Standout Capital is a new growth capital investor designed for both the specific opportunities in the Nordic market and also the new digital business reality. The fundamental approach is to look at companies we meet from a technology perspective and based on this, identify outstanding companies with substantial growth potential, and understand how we can add value to that company.
As an overall theme, Standout will be investing in the ongoing digital transformation of business and society, acting as a “technology impact investor”. From that perspective, looking at both new and more established companies, the Nordic market becomes very exciting with a large number of potential tech growth companies. We have at least 4,000 reasons to be excited.