After a rather damp start to the year, we were left looking to February to really kick off 2017 for investments into the Nordics. Instead we got a rather mixed bag, with some interesting data-points for us to chew over.
Firstly, February 2017 actually saw three less investments than February 2016, the first year-on-year by month slowdown that we’ve witnessed, with a total of 52 investments.
However, in terms of capital invested, this was comfortably the best February on record, with capital more than doubling from February 2016, with a total of $164.3 million.
In the context of recent months, 52 was the lowest since the quieter summer period, and is actually the third consecutive month we’ve seen a decrease in investments, again, the first time that we’ve recorded such a slide.
In terms of the spread of investments by country, it all looks fairly healthy for all of the ecosystems, except for Iceland, whose slow Q4 is seemingly carrying on through to Q1. (Could this be why?).
There does seem to be more of a three-way battle competing behind Sweden for investors attention these days, and this was certainly reflected in terms of where the investments took place in February.
The high amount of monthly capital can best be explained by the fact that there were no less than 6 investments above $10 million, with 4 of these happening above $20 million. Although the number of investments may have levelled out, these later-stage investments are a key indicator of an ecosystems overall health, and in this regard, February shows the Nordics as fighting fit.
FinTech and Enterprise SaaS continue their two-way fight to reign supreme, with FinTech taking the top spot for the first time in a while. If any vertical suffered from the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit result it was FinTech, and we certainly noticed a significant drop-off in investments in H2, even in the Nordics. However, the initial worries appear to have subsided, with investments into (Nordic, at least) FinTech companies back up to their pre-Brexit levels.
Despite the 6 rounds above $10 million, the level of International investors participating in Nordic funding rounds in February was actually significantly lower than the average month, with just 7 of the funding rounds included a minimum of 1 investor based outside of the region.
If we look at the 7 investments they did participate in, 5 of them were above $10 million, meaning 83.3% of the rounds that were $10 million or more including an International investor. This is a clear sign that in the majority of cases, companies still need to look outside of the region when raising later-stage funding, and we still have a reliance and a requirement to attract International capital if we are to continue to ensure that our companies can grow and scale sufficiently.
Like we stated at the beginning, February was a mixed bag, with data-points that can simultaneously be interpreted as positive or negative depending on the narrative you are pursuing. The signs we are seeing indicate that March will be significantly busier, so we will wait and reserve our judgement on what the first two months tell us until Q1 is complete.