10 interesting deals in the Nordics from October 2018.
This is what we found interesting in the Nordic investment ecosystem during the month of October 2018.
1. VR is back in business in the Nordics
Varjo is a young startup, founded in 2015 by CEO Urho Konttori, raised $15M in 2017 (1, 2) used to develop a VR headset working prototype, piloted with some 50 high profile industrial customers. They expect to launch officialy in 2019 and the money will come in handy for growth, especially as they're backed by solid investors such as Atomico, Siemens, EQT Ventures and Lifeline Ventures. A good signal for a technlogy still looking for scalable business models and cases.
2. VR gaming Resolution Games also raised series B money.
Up the VR value chain closer to the consumer side, a content provider, Resolution Games, also secured series B money, $7.5M, to expand its gaming portfolio.
Resolution is still in building phase, with less than $1M in revenues, and doing titles including Angry Birds FPS: First Person Slingshot (made for Magic Leap), Bait! (their most popular title), Bait! Arctic Open, Wonderglade, Narrows and Solitaire Jester. Also big names on the investors list, including Google Ventures, Creandum, Bonnier or Partech.
3. VR talent consolidation
Another VR story for the month of October is a consolidation one in the Nordics, as gaming developer Bublar acquired Vobling for $5.6M.
It looks like a talent acquisition, as Vobling provides on demand AR/VR consulting and development services to the B2B market, with 25 employees in Sweden and Phillipine. Also good profit margin, as it expects to make before taxes SEK 7M ($800k) at a turnover of 24 from customers like SAAB, Tobii, Merck and SJ.
4. More money for robots in the Nordics.
Specifically in the Denmark robotics hub, Odense. Blue Ocean Robotics raised €14.9M from Nordic Eye Venture Capital and, besides the business potential, this really deal accentuates the need for the robotics talent available.
Half of the robot engineers graduating in Denmark every year end up in other IT-related businesses, 25% will start their own robotics gig and the other 25% is available for employment.
Getting back to Blue Ocean Robotics - the company was founded in 2013, is led by CEO Claus Risager and developed a robotics hub, whereby it manufactures its robotic technologies across various businesses and applications and then uses skills and network available for the partnering companies in exchange for royalties and co-ownership when the robot is ready for the market. The company recently closed a deal through its Singapore division on the delivery of 500 Beam robots to the Japanese company Hapi-Robo.
This is the second investment round, as in 2016 it raised almost $8M for 30% of the company's shares distributed to strategic angel investors like Michael Voss, Niels Thorborg and Jørn Tolstrup Rohde.
5. H&M invests $20M in Klarna.
6. Urban Mobility in the Nordics - Bzzt raises money to expand its taxi pods fleet
Urban mobility is another interesting, new vertical with an explosion of different value creators on different points of the chain. Bzzt is a classic taxi company managing electric pods in Stockholm, which raised SEK 12M ($1.3M) to increase its fleet from just under 50 to around 200 by the end of 2019.
Japanese-backed Aimo, which provides car sharing services, also launched its 300 cars service in Stockholm in October 2018.
Add to that the scooter sharing FOMO phobia from Europe, which also affects the Nordics - Northzone invested in German Tier and not in the Swedish scooter sharing Voi Technology, which is being rumoured to have a VC deal in the works with UK-based Balderton.
7. Urban Mobility in the Nordics p.2 - UIP adds strategic investor
Another interesting play was made in Oslo by Urban Infrastructure Partner which added $15M in strategic investment from a car dealer group, Møller Mobility Group. UIP provides SAAS tools for setting up mobility platforms in urban areas, and operates bike sharing services in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Edinburgh.
8. Digital healthcare exit - Noona Healthcare was acquired by Varian.
Noona was founded in 2014 in Finland and develops a cloud-based, mobile tool designed to capture cancer patient-reported outcomes.
The company raised relatively little outside money - €1.5 million seed funding round led by Inventure - but executed well, with great adoption rate from life-sciences and pharma companies, and found a strategic exit sweetspot in US. Not a bad investment outcome for a 4 years work, this is a hot vertical in the Nordics which will grow *very* fast in the following years. -- link
9. Syncron secures $67M in minority investment from Summit Partners.
This is a story of a Nordic company that quietly built a dominant position without outside money, as this is the first investment deal since being founded in 1999.
Syncron, led by CEO Anders Grudén, offers a fully integrated SaaS platform to optimize the performance of the after-sales service supply chain, providing manufacturers to evolve to subscription-based uptime service models.
They built on a concept which is called servitization, whereas organizations transition from selling one-off products to selling the output or value that products deliver, and so manufacturers evolve their after-sales service operations from reactive, break-fix models focused on repair execution, to a new paradigm focused on dynamic repair prevention and maximizing product uptime.
10. Sophia Bendz gets promoted to a partner role in Atomico.
Sophia Bendz got her cred as a doer, by building Spotify's marketing machine back in the early days. She then transitioned towards the investment circles, worked for BetaAngels in New York for a few years and returned to Europe where she worked both as an excutive in residence at Atomico and as a very active angel investor.
How active you may ask - well, in the Nordics in 2018, she was the most active with 7 deals, and she also invests outside Scandinavia. Atomico made a great deal by adding her as partner since they will be better connected to early signals which are too far at the edges for big investment firms with a global approach.
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