15-12-2022 10:01

How financing startups became a success

Financing startups has been considered very risky, but thanks to thorough analysis, careful selection and a strong investor network, Nordea has shown how this can be done. We’ve collected some of the insights into our work and the successes it has led to.
Nordea at Slush 2022

It’s a well-known fact that the Nordics have a thriving environment for startups, attracting investors from all over the world looking for the next Spotify, Skype or Just Eat.

But due to higher-than-average risk factors, startups have traditionally been extremely difficult to finance for banks. However, during the past years, Nordea has shown that through thorough analysis, support and close follow-up, financing startups and scaleups can be a success – for the founders, us and the Nordic economies.

“Startup and scaleup companies are a globally fast-growing sector in the societies – today’s startups build the business landscape of the future. Our role is to help founders and future founders build sustainable companies that contribute to developing the Nordic economies and societies,” explains Head of Business Banking Nina Arkilahti and adds some key figures to illustrate the trend:

In 2021 venture investors channelled 11.9 billion euros into Nordic startups, up 109% on its previous record set in 2020. It’s estimated that they today employ close to 300,000 people in the Nordics.

Nina Arkilahti at this year's Slush
Our role is to help founders and future founders build sustainable companies that contribute to developing the Nordic economies and societies.

10 largest global venture capital funds connected

Looping into and stimulating the startup eco-system is an integrated part of Nordea’s  business banking activities and also our community engagement work. Our Startup & Growth unit helps scalable businesses in all the Nordic countries optimising their financing, that is finding the right mix of loans and venture capital and also supporting those who want to pursue international growth.

At the six Nordea Investor Speed Dating events that took place during 2022, around 200 local and global investment funds attended and we were able to set up around 500 1-to-1 meetings between investors and entrepreneurs. The 10 most active and largest global funds frequently attend the sessions.

“In a changing environment it is essential to support Nordic innovation through broad global networks and ensure that we infuse adequate skills and competencies into the companies where we see sustainable growth. Sharing our expertise and networks to encourage entrepreneurship is also how we engage in and contribute to the societies we’re part of and our support is therefore not limited to our own startup customers only,” Nina Arkilahti adds.  

Eager employees mentoring

And stimulation and support is still needed: A recent study shows that female owned start-ups or mixed teams have difficulties in receiving funding in the Nordics. All-men founding teams were allocated 88.2% of all capital deployed during 2021. Mixed teams secured 10.7% and all-women founding teams a meagre 1.1%. Addressing the issue, Nordea has just launched the Fearless Founders mentoring programme, especially focusing on female founders and students in Finland. Similar events also are arranged in Norway and Denmark.

At the events the startups will often meet the different non-profit foundations that we partner with and Nordea employees that act as sparring partners within for example business development, financing and risk management. As part of Nordea’s volunteering programme employees can choose to spend time mentoring startups and in 2022 it was a popular pick with hundreds of employees involved in for example the startup event Slush, matchmaking at Norssken or bootcamps at T:Lab.

Examples of main partnerships

Business growth