The Norwegian ecosystem has been making more noise recently, and if you look at the rate that investments are growing at you can see why. 2016 was another milestone year for Norway’s startup scene, as 78 investments were made totalling $196.3 million.
At the beginning of 2016 we wrote:
“I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that it’s possible for Norwegian startups to raise around $200 million in VC this year, an amount more befitting of the potential, talent and money that exists there, as the country continues to cotton on to the fact that producing tech is as much as a part of its future as oil was to its past.”
Not only were we spot on with our prediction in terms of the amount of capital raised, we were also right about the awakening that Norway was going through, this increased awareness of the opportunities that tech represents for the country certainly played its part in another strong year.
2016 was a very consistent year for investments in Norway, with a minimum of 17 and a maximum of 23 investments in each quarter. Although we didn’t really witness growth throughout the year, the number of investments per quarter is still strong, especially when you consider that 30 investments were made in total in 2015.
As you’d expect from an ecosystem undergoing a boom in investments, the majority of the activity is happening at an early~stage, with nearly 1/3rd of the investments happening below $500,000. This is not to say there’s no activity in the later stages though. Investments in Kahoot!, Unacast and The Future Group in 2016 prove there is capital available to support Norwegian companies that have made strides in their respective sectors.
Due to the small number of investments that have been made in Norway over the last couple of years, it’s been hard to determine if there are any particular investment trends in terms of verticals that the Norwegians may be particularly strong in. However, 2016 does offer us some clues, with Enterprise SaaS startups attracting the most capital, but with plenty of other verticals showing strong promise as well.
Oslo is home for 3 out of 4 Norwegian investments, but Trondheim and Bergen in particular showed that there are worthwhile companies to look at outside of the capital as well.
The amount of capital rose significantly in 2016, with nearly 8x as much invested than just two years previous to this. This not only demonstrates the increased interest and available capital to Norwegian companies but also that there are more and more companies emerging that are capable of attracting Series A and beyond as well.
Although the growth in the number of investments has slightly decreased, this was to be expected due to the low base rate set in 2014. It can be argued that the 160% growth rate in 2016 is actually more impressive, with 30 to 78 a more serious step towards a proper ecosystem.
There are no reasons to suggest that the Norwegian ecosystem can’t keep up this rate of growth.
If anything, we believe that with the continued increase of available money at an earlier stage, through initiatives like Angel Challenge, Innovation Norway matching private capital and the emergence of ambitious accelerators and funds like X2 Labs, Norwegian investments will continue to grow in 2017, with the 100 mark sure to be breached for the first time.
When you consider that Finland hasn’t broken 100 investments in the last three years, you can get some powerful context as to the speed at which the Norwegian ecosystem is growing.