Back when I was living in Denmark, I would regularly hear a bemoaning of the fact that it was hard to get a startup funded there. At the time, I felt that this was an excuse that was no longer true, as capital had become more readily available than it ever had been, and truly, if you were good enough, you could get funded.
That was three years ago, and access to capital is even easier now than it was then, yet the public perception still appears to be set on the fact that Denmark has a difficulty with access to capital.
Last week, I was alerted to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2016. Towards the end of the report there’s a section on Venture Capital availability by country (page 228), where executives in each country were asked to rank how easy it is for startup entrepreneurs with innovative but risky projects to obtain equity funding, with Denmark coming in a rather pathetic 72nd place.
Subsequently, the Danish media Berlingske gathered some more opinions on why venture capital is lacking in Denmark, to back up the results of a survey that was based on opinions on venture capital lacking in Denmark.
And this is where the problem lies, not only is this all based on opinion, it’s based on one that is outdated and far from the data-driven truth.
In 2015, 65 Danish startups raised a total of $273.53 million, second only to Sweden in the region and comfortably ahead of Finland’s $193.8 million. Incidentally, Finland came 6th in the WEF survey, compared to Denmark’s 72nd, despite raising considerably less capital than Denmark in 2015. You do the math, or don’t, as the WEF clearly neglected to do.
According to Tech.eu, Denmark attracted the 7th most venture capital in Europe in 2015, behind only the UK, Germany, Israel, France, Sweden and Spain.
Therefore, Denmark is statistically one of the best places to raise capital in Europe right now, and while ‘there’s no capital’ is an easy argument to fall back on, it’s one that can no longer be taken seriously. Denmark should be proud that they’ve created a tech ecosystem that is able to attract venture capital and be talking about the advantages and opportunities that come with this, rather than focus on outdated opinions.
Ironically, Denmark’s share of venture capital coming into the Nordics has fallen over the last couple of years as Sweden has accelerated and Norway has begun attracting more capital. This demonstrates that of course there are still challenges for Denmark as a country attracting venture capital, but simultaneously presses home how well they’ve been doing in the last couple of years at benefiting from capital in the first place.
Now I understand there’s a time and a place for Jante Law, but seriously, could we please apply a little more reality to the modesty. With no disrespect meant to the surrounding countries, Denmark comfortably attracts more venture capital than Azerbaijan, Uruguay and Cambodia, and that’s a fact.