Five From Finland
2021’s biggest investment rounds
These innovative Finnish companies have made headlines this year for closing remarkable, and even record-shattering, funding rounds.Julia Bushueva
2021 has shaped up to be a banner year for Finnish entrepreneurship, with many innovative local companies focusing on growth and attracting serious investments.
According to the Finnish Venture Capital Association (FVCA), Finnish startups raised 560 million euros in venture capital investments in the first half of the year, surpassing 2020’s full-year total by 57 million euros. With the second half of the year seeing bumper funding rounds as well, Finland is cementing its position as one of the hottest startup hubs in Europe.
Among the companies to have received new capital injections this year are waveguide design technology company Dispelex, which raised 28.4 million euros; music education company Yousician, which secured 28 million US dollars; online marketplace for surplus groceries Fiksuruoka, which pulled in 19 million euros; healthtech startup Aiforia, which closed a 17.5 million-euro funding round; brand licensing expert Flowhaven, which was boosted by a 16 million-US dollar investment; and mobility-as-a-service pioneer MaaS Global, with 11 million euros raised.
Now, let’s move on to the five biggest funding deals of the year.
For Wolt, a Helsinki-based and internationally operating tech company known for its delivery platform for food and merchandise, 2021 is a year to remember. In January, the company closed a 440 million-euro funding round, the largest in the history of Finland. The round was led by ICONIQ Growth, with Tiger Global, DST, KKR, Prosus, EQT Growth and Coatue joining as new investors.
But the achievements didn’t stop there. In November, Wolt reported it was being acquired by its US counterpart DoorDash in an all-stock transaction valued at seven billion euros. The deal, set to officially close in the second half of 2022, is among the largest-ever Finnish mergers and acquisitions and the largest in five years, according to Bloomberg.
“DoorDash has built an incredible business in one of the most significant markets in the world, while we came from a small home country and had to master the art of expansion very early on,” commented Miki Kuusi, co-founder and CEO of Wolt, who will lead DoorDash’s international division. “During this process, we’ve come to appreciate the many similarities of our two teams, cultures and companies, as we’ve been moulded by similar circumstances.”
“DoorDash and Wolt share a vision to build a global platform for local commerce that empowers the communities we operate in,” added Tony Xu, co-founder and CEO of DoorDash.
2021 has given Aiven, a provider of open-source data technologies on public clouds, many reasons to smile, too. After closing a 100 million-US dollar series-C funding round in March, followed by a 60 million-US dollar extension in October, the company reached a two billion-US dollar valuation and achieved the sought-after unicorn status. The latest round was led by World Innovation Lab and IVP, with participation from Atomico and other investors.
Aiming to become the global category leader in managed cloud data infrastructure, Aiven has a diverse customer base of more than 700 companies across the world and offices in Helsinki, Berlin, Boston, Toronto and Sydney. Following the fundraising, the company is planning to expand its reach in the Asia-Pacific region by opening an office in Singapore.
“This is an exciting step for Aiven on our journey and indicates that our team is successfully delivering on our mission to champion open source and make the lives of developers better in all that we do,” highlighted Oskari Saarenmaa, co-founder and CEO of Aiven. “The additional funding from our existing investors will allow us to rapidly expand our global footprint, significantly contribute to the open source community and support the growth of other tech startups.”
In May, the healthtech company behind Oura Ring, a smart wearable device delivering daily personalised sleep, activity and overall health insights, received 100 million US dollars in series-C funding from the likes of The Chernin Group, Elysian Park, Temasek and Jazz Venture Partners.
“These funds provide Oura with substantial runway for important future opportunities,” the company’s CEO, Harpreet Singh Rai, said in a news release. “We aim to invest in all areas of the business, including software and hardware development, people, R&D, as well as marketing and customer experience.”
Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Oura has witnessed a surge in demand for its product, listed among world changing ideas by Fast Company. Several sports leagues, including the NBA, WNBA and NASCAR, have started using the technology to track whether athletes could be getting sick. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, have tried to predict coronavirus infections in healthcare workers by using the device, too.
“The wearables industry is transitioning from activity trackers to health platforms that can improve people’s lives,” Singh Rai summarised.
Listed among the fastest growing companies in Europe by the Financial Times, the Helsinki-based charging infrastructure service provider secured 30 million euros in April. The funding round drew investments from major technology investors in Europe and Asia, including Jolt Capital, Finnish Industry Investment (Tesi) and Vertex Growth.
Virta’s electric vehicle (EV) charging platform is now used by nearly 1 000 business-to-business clients in over 30 countries and makes up one of the largest charging ecosystems in Europe. With Asia and the US being two other key markets for EV sales, Virta is planning to use the funding to support its international growth.
“New technologies can change the world for better only when they are sustainable environmentally, societally and business-wise,” explained Jussi Palola, CEO of Virta. “Together with new technology-driven investors, we catalyse transition to sustainable mobility in scale by empowering large industrial partners’ EV charging business also in new markets.”
Last summer, the circular fashion and textile technology company secured investments totalling 30 million euros in a funding round led by H&M Group with participation from adidas, BESTSELLER, Nidoco AB and Sateri. The round was later joined also by Zalando, Europe’s leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle.
The fresh funding came amidst growing global demand for Infinna, the company’s regenerated textile fibre sourced from textile waste and a wide range of other cellulose-rich materials such as cardboard, paper, wheat and rice straw. Currently operating two pilot facilities in the cities of Espoo and Valkeakoski, Infinited Fiber has announced its plan to build a flagship factory by 2024.
“These new investments enable us to proceed at full speed with the pre-engineering, environmental permits, and the recruitment of the skilled professionals needed to take our flagship project forward,” told Petri Alava, CEO of Infinited Fiber Company. “We can now also boost production at our pilot facilities so that we can better serve our existing customers and grow our customer base in preparation for both our flagship factory and for the future licensees of our technology.”