By far the dominant force in the region when it comes to attracting investments, not only did they comfortably stay out in front in 2016, Sweden actually increased their rate of growth last year, recording 388 investments totalling $1.674.47 billion.
This is in line with our expectations that we set out at the beginning of the year, as we expected to see significant growth in the number of investments and for the $1 billion mark to be breached again (thanks for proving us right Spotify, we saw you coming).
So, while it may have been fairly easy to predict that 2016 was going to be another strong year for investment in Sweden, there are still some interesting data-points for us to explore.
Most importantly perhaps, is that this continued increase in investments looks set to roll on into 2017, as Q4 last year was comfortably the strongest in 2016, and was a 50.62% increase from Q1, showing the dramatic growth that the Nordic’s biggest country is witnessing right now.
Although the majority of investments are happening at the pre-seed stage below $1 million, there’s enough investments happening at the $1-10 million range to show that there is capital available for those companies good enough and showing signs of growth to attract further investment.
A lot of the investments in the $3 million+ range came in the second half of the year, as our fears of a potential bottleneck and a return of a dreaded Series A crunch were allayed a little.
This influx towards the back-end of the year is likely due to the high numbers of companies who received early-stage in mid-end 2015 and were now ready to raise their next round.
This ‘batch’ of companies were the first to really take advantage of the increased interest and capital into Sweden, so it is a good sign that a fair proportion of them were able to raise again at the post $3 million mark in 2016, providing promising signs for the future as 2017 will see even more Swedish companies looking to raise capital in that range.
If we break down the investments by vertical, it’s clear to see that Sweden is currently excelling in five sectors, with barely anything separating them. FinTech performed strongly again (with three times as many investments as 2015) as Sweden and Stockholm in particular continue to stake their claim to be considered as one of Europe’s main FinTech hubs.
While Stockholm continues to be the main hub not just in Sweden but in the Nordics (Stockholm now accounts for 1 in 3 investments in the Nordics), there’s certainly no lack of activity outside of the capital city. Five other hubs attracted around 10 investment+ in 2016, with Malmö and Gothenburg in particular recording impressive numbers and providing investors with plenty of reasons to visit them as well.
Spotify is responsible for 49.64% of the capital invested into Sweden over the last three years, meaning its impact on these numbers certainly shouldn’t be underestimated. Even still, that’s leaves us $1.5 billion to marvel at.
Removing Spotify from the equation (the chart below includes them) 2016 still saw more growth in capital invested than 2015 saw (40.27% vs. 22.17%) due to the sheer number of investments that were made in Sweden last year.
It’s the rate that the investments are increasing by which is most staggering. You’d think that as interest and ecosystems across the Nordics grew, that the gap between the number of investments happening in the other countries compared to Sweden would decrease, yet it increased.
With a 171% rise in investments in 2016 from 2015, they reclaimed their title as fastest growing ecosystem in the region for investments from Norway, who held it briefly in 2015 for jumping to 30 investments from 9.
2016 saw nearly 7x as many investments as 2014 saw, and nearly 3x as many as 2015, and as we pointed out at the beginning, with Q4 recording the most activity, 2017 is set up to continue this growth.
If the 171% was maintained then 1,000+ investments would be made in Sweden this year. This number is so high (The Nordics as a whole recorded 708 in 2016) that I struggle to believe this will happen.
Therefore, we may see a slight drop in the rate of investments in 2017, however, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if we see 750+ investments in Sweden this year, a phenomenal number considering a population of 10 million.
The amount invested will certainly drop, unless Spotify raise another big round and postpone their IPO further, however this isn’t really a metric that we should worry about too much in any case.
The one we should be focusing on, is that if all of these companies that raised <$1 million are capable of going on to raise more capital in 2017. By the law of averages a lot of these companies simply aren’t going to be good enough, but as we’ve proved in this analysis, there’s certainly capital available.
As Sweden continues to mature into one of Europe’s main startup hubs, we need to ensure that the quality as well as the quantity is increasing, this will be its biggest challenge in 2017, something that money doesn’t always provide the answer to.