The skyline of Tampere on the shore of Lake Näsijärvi with Näsinneula Tower on the background
 Wirepas has developed the world’s first non-cellular 5G Internet of Things (IoT) in Tampere, Finland. Image: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere
Investment/Finance

Finnish firms gear up for year’s last quarter with fresh funding

Finnish efforts to support digitalisation, multimodal mobility, resource optimisation and sustainable packaging have been backed by investors of late.

Aleksi Teivainen

16.09.2021

Wirepas in September announced it will accelerate the development of the first non-cellular 5G technology in the world following the closing of a 10 million-euro funding round led by Karma and Finnish Industry Investment (Tesi). Demand for the purpose-built technology, it told, has soared in the past couple of months as more and more businesses look for affordable and scalable connectivity in areas such as logistics, smart cities and building management.

The Tampere-based technology firm said the funding injection enables not only the further development of the technology, but also the hiring of the development, testing and delivery experts required for a successful market launch.

“We target to have the commercial launch in 2022,” revealed Teppo Hemiä, CEO of Wirepas.

Wirepas had only unveiled the new product and standard a few months earlier, in May. The standard, it believes, enables businesses of all sizes to digitise their operations, run independent connectivity systems, develop services around their expertise, and store and consume the generated data, be it on premises or in public cloud.

Four young people posing for the camera

Wirepass team believes in better IoT solutions, such as Wirepas Massive that can be deployed anywhere by anyone in no time thanks to its decentralised device-based decisions. Image: Wirepas

“We knew Wirepas had a great read on the needs of its clients and industries that have been struggling to find a solution that truly works for them,” attested Juha Lehtola, head of direct venture-capital investments at Tesi.

“We’re excited to see the technology deployed and the true impact realised.”

MaaS Global, a Finnish mobility-as-a-service (MAAS) pioneer, reported that it has completed an equity funding round worth 11 million euros to supplement a 29.5 million-euro round closed roughly two years earlier.

The Helsinki-headquartered startup viewed that the funding, secured from new and old investors, will enable it to proceed to the next phase of its growth strategy, demonstrate the long-term viability of its business model on a larger scale, and expand its service offering for businesses and consumers alike.

A man with a smartphone in hand standing on a platform in a metro station.

MaaS Global’s multimodal mobility app, Whim, is poised to launch in new markets with the help of new funding. Image: MaaS Global

Among the investors that affirmed their confidence in the startup are Tesi and Ferrovial, a Spanish conglomerate involved in various aspects of transport infrastructure and urban services.

“We are very proud of the strong investor support received as part of this extension round,” stated Sampo Hietanen, CEO of MaaS Global.

He estimated that the round provides the startup, which is on an ambitious mission to transform the global transport industry, with further credibility in the mobility-as-a-service space, consolidating its status as a frontrunner and setting it up for scaling in what is forecast to grow into a 7.6-trillion-euro market by 2030.

The boost comes at a critical time, as mobility is expected to start gradually recovering from the standstill imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Whim, the multimodal mobility app developed by MaaS Global, has been launched in a number of markets in Asia and Europe – most recently in Switzerland. The app enables users to move more freely by seamlessly combining various modes of mobility, from public transport and taxis to bicycles and electric scooters, thus promoting sustainable mobility in cities.

Positive signs

The inflow of capital has been interpreted as a sign of confidence from investors looking for stability and predictability amid the uncertainty that lingers in the wake of the pandemic flaring up because of the delta variant.

The Finnish effort to manage the pandemic, though, has been recognised also formally.

Bloomberg in August called attention to the country’s low death rates and rapid vaccine rollout in ranking it third behind Norway and the Netherlands on the Covid Resilience Ranking, a 53-country ranking compiled based on the epidemiological situation, quality of life and re-opening progress. The country has also secured first spot on the Covid Economic Recovery Index, a study gauging the ability of 122 economies to absorb and recover from the pandemic-induced shock.

The distribution of investments has similarly fuelled optimism in Finland. Although Greater Helsinki accounted for about 56 per cent of the 1 400 direct foreign investments received in the past five years, several regional hubs appear to have piqued the interest of investors and multinational corporations.

Oulu has grown into a cluster of health technology expertise, drawing investments from Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Tampere has wielded its imaging and information and communication technology expertise to attract the likes of Axon, Huawei, Microsoft and Xiaomi. Satakunta, in turn, has utilised its manufacturing industry as a foundation for developing solutions for bio-based and circular economies.

“From a global viewpoint, it is typical that new foreign investments land in the capital region, close to good transport connections and services, for example. Finland, though, has a number of regionally strong ecosystems that attract foreign investment,” noted Annabella Polo of Business Finland.

Investments lift Tampere’s ColloidTek, Espoo’s Paptic

Back in Tampere, ColloidTek announced at the start of the month it has raised 2.8 million euros for its effort to optimise the use of energy, chemicals and raw materials in industrial liquid processes.

Consisting of almost two million euros in private equity and one million euros in public funding from the EU and Business Finland, the injection enables the startup to strengthen its team, drive sales performance in Europe and build a foothold in the US.

The round was led by Denmark’s Scale Capital.

ColloidTek’s Collo analyser is capable of detecting and notifying of changes in the chemical composition of liquids in real time, putting a stop to excess use of resources. Image: Amandeep Singh / ColloidTek

Collo, the real-time liquid analyser developed by ColloidTek, has the potential to achieve reductions of up to 50 per cent in energy, water and raw material use, as well as in carbon-dioxide emissions. The analyser creates an electromagnetic fingerprint that is highly sensitive to changes in the chemical composition of the process liquid, thus revealing exactly when the right composition has been achieved and the process step is ready.

The solution has been adopted by companies such as ABB, Danone, Evonik, Kemira, Metso Outotec and Orion.

“Our liquid performance platform offers not just arbitrary data, but actionable parameters for easier and more comprehensive process control”, highlighted Matti Järveläinen, CEO of ColloidTek. “We are developing our analytical system into an even easier-to-implement solution that improves the efficiency of any liquid process.”

Itochu Corporation, one of the largest general trading companies in Japan, in September acquired a stake in Paptic, a Finnish developer of recyclable fibre-based alternatives to plastic packaging materials.

Paptic’s sustainable packaging materials have been used by retailers such as Sokos and Stockmann. Image: Paptic

Jin Asada, CEO of Itochu Fiber Limited, said Paptic has the potential to be a “true game-breaker” in flexible packaging materials in virtually all geographical markets, making it an excellent complement to the sustainability strategy of Itochu.

“In Itochu, we have found a long-term investor with the growth and sustainability plans very well aligned with ours,” echoed Tuomas Mustonen, CEO of Paptic. “We have an ambitious growth vision for the coming years, and we will continue opening new market opportunities and raising further financing to reach our targets.”

Business Finland and Invest in Finland reported that they played a key role in bringing together key people at Itochu Corporation, Itochu Fiber and Paptic.

“This long-term strategic partnership will ensure the next phases of growth for Paptic and sustainable growth for Itochu in flexible packaging in practically all geographical markets,” envisioned Nina Kopola, director general of Business Finland.

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