Conference Summary and Conclusions:
„Nordic-Baltic PE/VC Momentum 2021”
17 February 2021
„Nordic-Baltic PE/VC Momentum 2021”
17 February 2021
- Event full recording - click HERE
- Keynote presentation: Jurate Azelionyte (EIF) - click HERE
- Roundtable discussion: Sami Lampinen, Rasmus Thomsen, Monalotte Theorell Christofferson, Rokas Peciulaitis, Tanya Marvin-Horowitz - click HERE
- Panel discussion: Matias Kaila, Chris Wade, Emma Honkanen, Kristine Berzina, Margus Uudam - click HERE
The Nordic and Baltic PE/VC ecosystems have over the years been exceedingly successful and built great companies. On 17 February 2021 seven Nordic and Baltic Private Equity and Venture Capital Associations organised the „Nordic-Baltic PE/VC Momentum 2021“ conference to discuss and brainstorm what could be the next steps of the very successful regional ecosystems to develop even further. The event gathered key players in the region to discuss and analyse development strategies and find out whether there is potential and ambition to do more as a region together.
- Creating synergies in working together. The Nordic and Baltic region has been very successful and is showing outstanding results in developing their PE/VC ecosystem. There are many similarities between the markets - high rankings in ease of doing business and education as well as digitalisation and sustainability. Working more together could create synergies from local, regional and international perspectives in building a globally leading innovation, startup and growth ecosystem.
- Unrivaled opportunity is in speed. Looking at the market size, with altogether 33 million people and 2% of global GDP created by the region, collaboration in developing the PE/VC ecosystem is vital to be sizeable and agile at the same time. Speed in developing the ecosystem together could give us an unrivaled advantage in the global innovation and technology scene.
- Huge potential in creating a unique regional hub. Instead of chasing Silicon Valley, the region should create its own one-of-a-kind and unique hub. This unique cross-border cooperation could unlock the regional fast forward development potential.
- PE/VC funds are best positioned in facilitating cross-border ecosystem developments. Cross-border investments by PE/VC funds and LPs are the best means of building networks, sharing best practices and strengthening the regional ecosystem.
- Near-term opportunities for all to benefit from. Joint policy initiatives, ESG policies, and harmonisation of tax mechanisms for even better innovation and talent attraction could be means of near-term opportunities for all to benefit from working together. Additionally, unification and “translation” of regional data and regulations for large international LP-s could be very beneficial for all market participants.
- A need for Nordic-Baltic fund of funds to strengthen the ecosystem further. Fund of funds, strongly supported by panelists, would develop the regional LP base further, building a sustainable ecosystem in the long term.
Event recap in further details:
The opportunity is in speed
Johan Bergqvist, who has raised over €5.5 billion with unicorns Bolt and Spotify and has worked with numerous investors both from Europe and the US, stated that more cooperation on EU and Nordic-Baltic level is essential as the future economy is evolving right now and the winners are those who are fast, agile and sizeable at the same time. “Growth-size and large tech companies have not exited in Europe for a long time. The US with its large market and experience is ahead of us. We need to work more together as we don’t want to stand in the station when the train is leaving. That means building the right infrastructure and ecosystem in Europe to enable companies to evolve within Europe. This comes with regulations, access to capital, and mentorship. A lot of European founders are first-time founders, they don’t have the experience and we need high-level mentorship. Otherwise, if the investors come from elsewhere, most of these companies are also going to be built elsewhere”, Bergqvist noted.
He added that from the perspective of the Nordic and Baltic market, looking at the market size, with altogether 33 million people and 2% of global GDP created by the region, it is very wise to collaborate in developing the PE/VC ecosystem. “In this industry, you need to be sizeable and fast at the same time. Looking at the similarities of Nordic and Baltic business culture - tech-savvy, open for change, and having the understanding of being part of a bigger picture - allows one to think wider than just within one country. Even if the size is not meaningful, we could become the thought leader to boost the needle for the rest of Europe to start moving. The opportunity is in speed”, Bergqvist concluded.
Regional cooperation was strongly supported by Jurate Azelionyte from EIF who has extensive experience with multi-country projects from the LP side. Having years of practice in working with states and private LPs in the area, she assured that cooperation between states can be a very efficient tool. “When funds can invest across the region, they become far more interesting for private investors and thereof have better access to a larger LP base. Multi-country cooperation creates new teams and increases capital flow to local companies,” Azelionyte said. Based on EIF’s experience it is most important to align and agree expectations create coordinated policy across the region.
PE/VC funds are best positioned in facilitating cross-border opportunities
Looking specifically at the opportunities ahead of the Nordic and Baltic region, the roundtable members Sami Lampinen, Monalotte Theorell Christofferson, Rasmus Thomsen, Rokas Peciulaitis, and Tanya Marvin-Horowitz all agreed that we are currently in a good growth momentum – the markets are peaking, attracting international capital, seeing a high number of unicorns and super successful IPOs from the buyout side.
Despite the fact that the Nordic and Baltic markets are in different market development stages, there are strengths in both to pave the way for outstanding results if combined. Whilst Baltic funds are showing the first or second generation of funds and are well-known across the world with agility, digitalisation and vibrant start-up culture, the Nordics stand out with a very strong academic and research community and more mature markets across all funding stages.
Foreign LPs are already active in the region, there is already a very visible track record and more and more funds from Europe and the US come to the regional market. Deriving from that an idea of a pan-regional fund, which would bring the region together, was approved by all participants. “Funds are the ones that can unify the market, the world sees us as an ecosystem together. Putting our assets together could create more sizeable tickets. VC is both a global phenomenon, but locally anchored as you need someone that knows the local market. A regional fund of fund could be a bridge between global and local.
As to the most important areas that funds should work and collaborate on, the discussion led to three main areas: sustainability, diversity and deeptech. “We shouldn’t just try to be chasing the Silicon Valley, instead we should create our own hub that most sustainable technologies come from this region. We should be the forerunners in diversity matters and developers of the most complex deeptech technologies as funds are perfectly positioned to be the link between science and business”, the members agreed.
Immediate opportunities benefited by all
The panel discussion of the event with Margus Uudam, Matias Kaila, Emma Honkanen, Kristīne Bērziņa and Chris Wade as participants concluded that cross-border cooperation would be highly beneficial to get the GPs and LPs to work less on the local level be more exposed to discussions and exchange information with international LPs on what is driving the value and returns.
“We need to encourage other LPs as the least we are is capital. We are the supporters and activators of new investment from Europe, which needs a lot more private capital into the venture as currently fundraising is taking too long or relying too much on governments. With 33 million people the Nordic and Baltic markets combined could be a big region enough to create a sense of urgency in foreign large LPs”, the panel members said. Uniting forces would make the ecosystem more stable, grow fund sizes and lock-up LP capital. “Us as the regional key players should become the translators of local markets and related jargon for large international LPs. Together we can do it. This is the momentum”, all agreed.
Speakers of the event included Johan Bergqvist - Group CFO of Bolt; previously VP & Head of Corporate Finance & Treasury of Spotify, Jurate Azelionyte - Fund of Funds Manager at European Investment Fund (EIF), Sami Lampinen - Founder and Managing Partner of INVENTURE & Chairman of Finnish VCA, Monalotte Theorell Christofferson - CFO of Stena Sessan AB & Chairwoman of Swedish VCA, Rasmus Thomsen - Strategy & Business Development Team Lead at Vaekstfonden, Rokas Peciulaitis - Founder and Managing Partner of Contrarian Ventures & Chairman of Lithuanian VCA, Tanya Marvin-Horowitz - Partner of Butterfly Ventures & Deputy Board member for the Finnish VCA, Matias Kaila - Head of Fund Investments at TESI, Margus Uudam - Founding Partner of Karma Ventures & Chairman of Estonian VCA, Emma Honkanen - Investment associate at eQ Group, Kristīne Bērziņa - Founder of Livonia Partners & Chairwoman of Latvian VCA and Chris Wade - Co-Founder & Partner at Isomer Capital.
The „Nordic-Baltic PE/VC Momentum 2021“which was held on 17 February 2021 was co-organised by the Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian VCA-s and powered by EBRD and KPMG.