Although coming from a low base point, energy was the fastest growing vertical in the Nordics in 2016 based on the number of investments, with 23 compared to just 4 in 2015, meaning it experienced a 475% increase. With such a huge increase, whether this rate of growth is sustainable in 2017 is unlikely, however, one thing is for certain, this is a blossoming sector in the region and one worth looking at further.
At first glance, it appears that investments in 2017 won’t even reach 2016’s levels let alone surpass them, as we approach the halfway point of the year, there has been ‘just’ 8 so far. This is still a marked increase from pre-2016 where that would nearly be double what 2014 and 2015 saw combined.
However, breaking it down by quarter, we can see that 2017 is actually slightly better off than 2016 was at this point of the year, meaning there’s a strong likelihood that 2017 will see at least as many investments as last year, demonstrating a level of consistency in interest in investing in the sector. Even still, it’s fairly safe to say at this point that the growth rate won’t be anywhere near the level of 2016s.
Rather surprisingly, Denmark doesn’t fare so well here, with Vaavud the sole investment in the energy sector since the start of 2014. Sweden fares the best, while Finland and Norway are also home to several promising energy startups. The percentage of investments that Energy makes up of a country’s overall investments is actually the highest in Norway. Sweden’s dominance here though is actually higher compared to a lot of the other main verticals, with 58.33% of the investments happening there.
For a vertical that’s experienced a sudden uptick in action, the investments are fairly spread out. This is due to the fact that a lot of innovations in the energy sector are capital intensive missions, so initial investments tend to be higher than the average you see in other verticals. Still, it’s promising to see that despite how quickly investment interest in the sector jumped up in 2016, that capital was still available even in the post $5 and $10 million range.
Interestingly, despite these larger investments, International participation is still low compared to nearly all verticals. However, this is because a lot of the investments into startups in this sector don’t come from VCs but rather more from traditional corporate players in the space, a space which is very active in the Nordics compared to other regions, meaning there are plenty of local funding options. In saying this, VC interest has certainly increased too, particularly in Sweden.
Although Energy was the fastest-growing sectors for investments in the region last year, it is still a relatively overlooked sector. This is surprising when you consider the talent that already resides in the region due to its historic expertise in the space. Due to this, and a general shift in VC investment towards thinking more about sustainable and mission-driven companies, although 2017 won’t reach the growth heights of 2016, I expect Energy investments to continue increasing in the region throughout the next couple of years.