Finland witnessed another fairly strong year for investment, with slow but steady growth from 2015, with a total of 99 investments amounting to $349.6 million.
This was pretty much in line with our expectations at the beginning of 2016, as we expected it to be a significantly stronger year than 2015, especially in regards to the total amount of capital invested and the number of larger rounds (above $20 million+)
In terms of how the year unfolded, as was the case in 2014 and 2015, in 2016, the final quarter of the year was the strongest year for investment by quite some distance in Finland.
Following the same pattern three years in a row lends credence to a particular trend here, and one that we think we can explain. With Slush taking place in November and December, Finnish companies use the opportunity to announce their biggest news, which is often their latest funding round.
If we look at the period just before and just after Slush, there were 12 funding announcements all within a week or so of each other, accounting for 12% of the total investments seen in the whole year and providing fairly convincing evidence to our theory.
Although Finland may have recorded less investments than Denmark for the first time in 2016, its maturity as a hub compared to the Danes is quite clearly visible when we look at the size of the investments. More than 1 in 3 investments were above $3 million, a clear sign of a maturer hub that has been producing promising companies for some time.
Overall, there doesn’t seem to be a particular funding gap at any stage, with things looking particularly healthy at the Series A stage and beyond.
All of the verticals that are so closely associated with Finnish tech talent all feature in the most backed verticals from 2016. Although, Enterprise SaaS is a clear winner, accounting for more than 1 in 5 investments that were made into Finnish tech startups last year.
Perhaps surprisingly, Finland only accounted for 19% of Nordic gaming investments in 2016, a percentage we would have expected to be slightly higher considering its rich gaming heritage.
Finland has the most spread out investments geographically compared to its Nordic neighbours, although its capital, Helsinki, does see 58.6% of all investments.
Even still, I wonder whether the disperse nature of the various hubs is a good or a bad thing in terms of attracting investment from outside of Finland, although it should be noted that Espoo is exceptionally close to Helsinki. On a positive note, it’s great to see that so much investable talent exists all around the country.
The fact that over 1 in 3 investments were above $3 million certainly contributed to a stellar year for the amount of capital raised, with 2016 seeing a 77% increase on 2015, compared to the 13% increase since in the year prior.
“Slow but steady” was the expression we used in the opening sentence, and below you can see why. There was a 17.86% increase in investments year on year, however this is even slower than the 27.27% growth that was seen the year before, which was already the lowest in the region.
There is a reason for this though and one that explains the fact that Denmark has overtaken Finland in investments after threatening to for a while. A reason, that makes me think that Finland will now be the third dominant investment hub in the region for some time now.
Public funding. Finnish companies have a tendency (and a skill) of taking advantage of the public money that is available to them. Whether it’s loans through the various EU initiatives or money closer to home from Tekes, Finnish startups take advantages of these options much more than the other Nordic countries.
As we are tracking private investments, we don’t account for these in our analysis, meaning that we don’t reflect the alternative avenues of funding that Finnish startups regularly turn to.
We won’t change our methodology, as we believe private investment to be the best temperature check for analysing the health of an ecosystem, however, it is certainly worth us pointing this out, when we are simultaneously declaring Denmark to now be the second most dominant country for attracting capital after Sweden.
Even still, once again, we do expect a stronger year for Finnish startups in private funding in 2017 than we saw last year. We’d expect the growth of the number of investments to increase, with somewhere in the region of 125-150 likely, as well as the total amount, just remember to wait until December before you start counting.