Denmark: a Scaleup Forge in the Nordics

Denmark seems to have cemented its position at or near the top of every global quality-of-life survey. Take a look around, and it’s not hard to see why.
Our recent research confirms that the Nordic countries are without any doubts an innovation powerhouse in Europe. 430 scaleups able to cumulatively secure over $6.5B in investments are in the Northern region (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland). That puts the Nordics at a similar level of the UK and of Germany and France combined.

In the Nordic landscape, Denmark is one of the main pillars, representing about one fifth of the total. It contributes approximately for the 22% of the Nordic contingent and 20% of the capital raised. Not surprisingly, Denmark ranks third in the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS)
Consistently with the Nordic average, Denmark shows 1.7 scaleups every 100 thousand people and 0.49% of the GDP invested in Danish scaleups.

And the investment seems to pay-off, since 4 companies were able to raise over $100M in funding (the so called “scalers”). The “Unicorn pack” led by Zendesk (recently joined by Sitecore) includes fast growing companies like Momondo Group, Tradeshift, and Trustpilot.
In terms of sectors, Web Content, Enterprise services and Software solutions dominate the Danish scaleup landscape.

51 startups exited via acquisition in the last 5 years. As usual in Europe, US companies are the most frequent buyer (39% of the total).
Denmark shows the largest percentage (35% of the total) of dual companies in the Nordic region, i.e. startups that have moved their headquarters abroad (though maintaining relevant operations in the home country). That shows a more accentuated propensity to look abroad for accelerating the growth process. This evidence is also confirmed by the fact that 5 out of the 6 Danish scaleups that went public after 2010 got listed abroad.
That said, Denmark looks like a fertile ground for scaleups, but probably some ingredients still need to be found elsewhere like the vikings were used to.

Alberto Onetti
Chairman, Mind the Bridge Foundation Coordinator, Startup Europe Partnership
Peter Munkholm Nielsen
Business Development Manager, Copenhagen Capacity