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Busy times for Finnish firms

Scientists at Innomost are coming up with ways to use forest industry side streams for more high-value purposes than energy production.


Finnish firms have announced takeovers and funding injections for development efforts ranging from legal technology to sustainable natural ingredients.

Rovio, the Espoo-based game studio behind the world-famous Angry Birds, has announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire all outstanding shares in Ruby Games, a hyper-casual games developer based in Izmir, Turkey.

Ruby Games has completed several successful launches and boasts an “impressive” hit ratio, pointed out Alex Pelletier-Normand, CEO of Rovio since January. The Turkish game studio has built a portfolio of games that together have logged more than 600 million downloads, led by the sixth most downloaded game of last year, Hunter Assassin.

The Finnish game studio stated that the acquisition aligns with its strategy to grow through mergers and acquisitions, signals its foray into the rapidly growing hyper-casual gaming segment, complements its flock with a substantial network of developers, and boosts its audience and number of daily users.

“We are taking an important step forward in our growth strategy,” said Pelletier-Normand. “By entering the rapidly growing hyper-casual market we are enriching our audience base and offering our players a more diverse portfolio of titles.”

Acquiring Ruby Games is an important step forward in the growth strategy of Rovio, says CEO Alex Pelletier-Normand. Image: Rovio

Rovio last week also unveiled its latest interim report, saying its game revenue rose by six per cent at comparable exchange rates between April and June. While Angry Birds Friends and Small Town Murders were the main revenue drivers, the studio admitted its disappointment with the performance of its latest release, Darkfire Heroes.

“As of today, we have not yet been able to reach a scale fitting our ambition level. The team is expanding the game with additional events and content, and we search ways to improve our marketing efficiency within this mid-core category, which is new to us,” commented Pelletier-Normand.

Innomost bags funding for expansion, pilot plant in Kokkola

Finnish businesses have also continued to wow investors with their growth and product development ambitions.

Innomost reported last week that it has closed a funding round worth five million euros in preparation of bringing its birch bark-based innovation to new markets and setting up a pilot production facility in its domicile of Kokkola, Ostrobothnia.

The funding round was led by Metsä Spring, the venture capital arm of Finnish forest industry behemoth Metsä Group. The bow on the round came in the form of loans and grants from public financing organisations, including Business Finland.

Finnish firms have wowed investors with, among others, wood-based innovations.

The five-year-old startup develops and produces high-value bioactive ingredients from forest industry side streams that offer a sustainable alternative to fossil-based and, at times, ethically questionable ingredients used in consumer products such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Birch bark, for example, can be developed into a powder that replaces problematic microplastics in deep-cleansing skin and hair products, instead of being used for energy generation or other low-value purposes.

“It’s really a win-win situation,” affirmedSami Selkälä, CEO of Innomost.

The product portfolio currently consists of birch charcoal powder, birch bark powder, betulin, suberin and azelaic acid – all ingredients suitable for use in skincare, haircare, body care decorative cosmetics and oral care.

“We have several other industries in our sights that can all replace negative-impact products and materials, including [the] pharmaceutical, techno-chemical, textile and nutraceutical industries,” told Selkälä.

Innomost also revealed that its pilot facility, which will be used to define and demonstrate the feasibility of processes for the subsequent industrial-scale facility, is set to have an annual birch bark capacity of 20 tonnes by 2023.

Aatos closes funding round, Groke welcomes minority stakeholder

Groke Technologies, a Finnish startup developing navigation solutions and technologies, revealed last week it has welcomed aboard a new minority stakeholder in Oldendorff Carriers.

Finland’s Groke Technologies has welcomed aboard a new minority investor. Image: Groke Technologies

Established in 2019 with Japan’s Mitsubishi, Groke Technologies will continue to grow and operate with the help of advice and support from both backers, developing intelligent navigation systems for shipping to create safer and more comfortable working conditions aboard vessels. The startup indicated in a press release that its vision not to venture into autonomy, but rather to focus on developing crew support and safe navigation systems, was a key factor behind the investment by Oldendorff, a leading dry bulk operator rooted in Hamburg, Germany.It was Mitsubishi that brought Groke Technologies to the attention of Oldendorff.

Meanwhile, Helsinki-based Aatos Legal Technology in August announced the closing of a 1.2 million-euro funding round that drew contributions from both new and existing backers, including lead investor Innovestor Ventures.

On a mission to wield technology to make legal services accessible to everyone, the startup revealed it plans to use the funding to accelerate the execution of its global growth strategy. Its fully automated platform enables anyone, regardless of their level of legal experience or expertise, to create and manage legal documents such as wills, probates and prenuptial agreements cost effectively.

The Aatos team is seeking to make legal services accessible to everyone. Image: Aatos Legal Technology

CEO Aku Pöllänen highlighted that since its founding a year ago, the startup has built a user base of over 15 000 in Finland.

“With our easy-to-use online service and data-driven approach, we’ve acquired users from all age groups ranging from young adults to plus-90-year-olds,” he told in a press release. “We have built a disruptive platform and have good user growth in Finland. Aatos is built for the individual, but the magic lies in its capacity to scale for millions.”

Finnish startups received more venture capital funding, as a proportion of gross domestic product, than startups in any other country in Europe in 2020, according to the Finnish Venture Capital Association. Statistics reveal that the venture-capital receipts of Finnish startups equalled about 0.2 per cent of GDP, a proportion that puts them 77 per cent ahead of startups in Great Britain.

The outlook for venture capital funding is also positive in the country, with the number of venture capital investors doubling in the past five years.

By: Aleksi Teivainen