What you need to know about the Nordic investment market in Q1

07 April 2021 Insights
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As we finalise updating the numbers for the Nordic deals we tracked in March, it is time to have a look at the big picture and draw some conclusions about what happened in the Nordic startups and VC investments landscape in the first three months of 2021.

The start of 2021 was fairly active - we tracked 284 deals for the quarter, which is better than an average Q1, with more deals closed than last year and within the ranges of 2019 and 2018.

It is also true that in 2020 the month of March saw a lower than usual number of deals closed due to the pandemic - 70 vs. an yearly average for a March of almost 100.

What is remarkable though - the dollar value spent in the first quarter of 2021 is three times (!) as high as it was last year, and more than 2019 and 2020 1st quarters combined. That is $3.8 billion invested in Nordic startups in Q1 2021.

The reason? We had three deals that commended about $2 billion worth of investment money - Klarna ($1bn), Wolt ($530M) and Epidemic Sound ($450M).

They were followed by another $1 billion made out of 18 other deals involved in $25M+ transactions. Two of those are above the $100M threshold - one from Denmark and the other from Finland.

To put things in perspective:

  • in 2020, there were only 12 deals above $25M, with two of them only above $100M: Klarna again, and Kry.
  • in 2019, there were only 9 deals above $25 million, NONE of which higher than $100M - the largest in the quarter was Tink at $63.5M.
  • in 2021, we had 21 deals above $25M, 3 of which combined $2 billion.

 

What was money invested in and by whom?

If we're to look at the top deals, e-commerce, financial services and SAAS make up for almost half of the deals. Food, health, education and logistics also verticals over-funded in the first three months of 2021.

Another remarkable fact about the Q3 activity is that we had 17 VC companies that made at least 3 deals per quarter. That's one a month or more! Combine this with 8 non-Nordic investors active in at least 2 deals and 6 Nordic startups incubated at Y Combinator this winter.

Also interesting to note - if in previous years Sweden was dominating the top deals in the region, in 2021's first quarter we have a more balanced situation, with 2 Finnish companies and one from Denmark in top 5 largest deals, above $100 million. Finland, huh!

8 out of 13 deals in the $25-100M range are non-Swedish, we have 2 Norway-based companies and 6 Danish ones. That percentage has been traditionally higher than 50% in the favor of Swedish companies. Not any longer!

So capital is put to work in the Nordics.

It is also true that the region is loaded with money raised by local players in 2020 alone: about $2 billion announced by 32 local funds, which are added to what many international investors are eyeing to deploy in the region.

The numbers making the big picture look like this:

 

Overall

  • 284 deals | $3.8bn | 59 with undisclosed value

vs.

  • 264 deals | $1.24bn | 62 with undisclosed value [Q1 2020]
  • 298 deals | $1.1bn | 82 with undisclosed value [Q1 2019]
  • 295 deals | $822M | 88 with undisclosed value [Q1 2018]

vs.

 

Deal size

  • < $500k: 29 deals | $7.8M
  • $500k-1M: 25 deals | $20M
  • $1-5M: 99 deals | $235M
  • $5-10M: 23 deals | $161M
  • $10-20M: 23 deals | $335M
  • $20-50M: 16 deals | $442M
  • $50M+: 10 deals | $2.6bn
  • n/a: 59 deals

 

Verticals

  • software: 109 deals | $563M
  • manufacturing: 65 deals | $302M
  • financial services: 44 deals | $1.3bn
  • health: 33 deals | $114M
  • marketplaces: 32 deals | 741M

 

Investors

 

Cities

  • Stockholm - 80 deals
  • Copenhagen - 47 deals
  • Oslo - 38 deals
  • Helsinki - 17 deals

 

If you're interested to dig deeper and understand more, we have created a few Nordic-focused reports crunching the Q1 data:

 

You will need to log in in order to access the reports - they are part of the Cheat Sheet Library and provided complimentary with the data access to all N9 customers.

Not a customer yet? It's easy and very affordable to join - choose a package that suits your needs from here.

 

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