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Europe’s Unicorn Factory

Japanese investors are increasingly looking to the Nordics for funding opportunities. Therefore,  Innovation Lab Asia has produced a report introducing the Nordic ecosystem to a Japanese audience. Next week, a Japanese version of the report will be published in Japan.

The success of the Nordic innovation ecosystem is a story untold, even in the Nordics. With 23 unicorns, we have the highest number of billion dollar exits per capita outside Silicon Valley.

Compared to the rest of Europe, the success is even more impressive. Accounting for just 4% of the entire European population (29 of 741 million people), the Nordics have created 9% of the world’s total billion dollar exits (since 2005), while the remaining 96% of the European population have generated just 8%.

Success has many fathers

Perhaps the most important reason for the Nordic success is the existence of the “Nordic model”, which combines market capitalism with a comprehensive welfare state that provides its citizens with free education, healthcare, and social security.

This arguably lowers the fear of failure and nurtures a culture in which trial and error are seen as beneficial, rather than a risk to be avoided. 90% of Nordic university students find it culturally accepted to become entrepreneurs.

A strong framework

Furthermore, the public sector provides a strong framework for the ecosystem, including efficient e-governance, a streamlined bureaucracy, plentiful opportunities for funding and other support, and a strong focus on Research and Development.

The Nordics have one of the highest levels of R&D investment by GDP in Europe. With tech-savvy populations that eagerly adopt new technologies, the Nordics have created a fertile ground for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Born global

A final characteristic of the Nordic ecosystem is the level of internationalization. The Nordic economies are small and open, and the Nordic countries need to collaborate both inside the region and beyond. Thus, the Nordics provide a great starting point for anyone looking to establish a foothold on the European continent.

Introducing the Nordic ecosystem

The report provides a short but comprehensive overview of the Nordic innovation ecosystem. Starting out with a  quick one-pager for each of the Nordic countries, including Estonia, the report moves on to cover six Nordic strongholds (Greentech, Healthtech, Fintech, Deeptech, Gaming and Smart Cities), a Nordic tech event overview, and a chapter on current Japanese investment activity in the Nordics. 

A pan-Nordic production

The report has been written and financed by Innovation Lab Asia, with input from our Nordic partners: Copenhagen Capacity, Startup Norway, Espoo Innovation Garden, Icelandic Startups and Nordic Ninja VC. We welcome any other Nordic community stakeholders to join our effort to strengthen the Nordic platform in Japan. 

Stay tuned… more to come

The new report seeks to inspire Japanese investors and stakeholders to explore the new opportunities in the booming Nordic ecosystems, and to open up for more fruitful partnership between the two regions. 

This report has been translated into Japanese and will shortly be live on this website and disseminated in Japan. Stay tuned for updates on our activities in Japan.