If you look for scaleups in Europe, you definitively have to look North.

In January this year reported that nearly one in four of Europe’s funding rounds were raised by Nordic startups. Our data support this fact. The Nordic countries are without doubt an innovation powerhouse in Europe. We identified 430 scaleups in the five Northern countries (Sweden, Finaland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) that cumulatively raise over $6.5B in investments. That means in the Nordics we have 1.6 scaleups for every 100,000 people, that is 2.5x the ratio in the UK, almost 6x in continental Europe on average and 9x of Southern Europe.

But everything happens for a reason. If we look at the capital raised, 0.5% of GDP in the Nordic countries has been invested into scaleups, versus 0.42% in UK, and only 0.15% in continental Europe (Germany and France) and 0.06% in the South (Italy, Portugal and Spain).

And it appears that such investment is paying off. Some Nordic scaleups are – or are on their way to becoming – Unicorns. We identified 12 scalers in the region: small giants – such as Supercell, Spotify,, Klarna, iZettle, Zendesk – that were able to secure over $100M in capital to fuel their growth.

It is not a surprise that the gaming sector represents the main driver of the Nordic ecosystem, with 40 scaleups tracked and almost $0.9B in capital raised. Other relevant verticals are software, digital media, fintech and hardware.

In the five countries we tracked, 20 scaleups have moved their headquarters abroad, while maintaining relevant operations in their home country (we define them as “dual companies”). 75% of the times, they moved to the US. This proves, on the one hand, that the Nordic ecosystems are internationally connected, but, on the other hand, that some ingredients remain missing and some companies still have to go abroad to scale-up.

205 startups exited via acquisitions in the last 5 years. 40% of the M&A transactions were completed by US companies. This data is in line with what we have found in the other European countries. The news is that 40% of deals were performed by companies in the region. That means that a large chunk of the acquired startups have “stayed in the Nordics”.

A lot of interesting data is presented in this report, good food for thoughts. More to come. Soon we will also publish each of the country reports with detailed information about the five Northern countries. Stay tuned!

Alberto Onetti Chairman, Mind the Bridge Coordinator, Startup Europe Partnership