The Nordics – Europe’s Unicorn Factory


March 24, 2022

The Nordic model is a key factor

The Nordics include Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Estonia. (Also called “The New Nordics,” as Estonia is included). The startup success in these countries is largely due to the Nordic welfare model, which combines social welfare and economic systems.

Free public education, healthcare, and social security are some of the essential benefits of the Nordic model. The public sector thereby provides a fertile ground for startup-founders, including opportunities for support and funding from, among others, Innovation Fund Denmark. Altogether, this allows (and endorses) people to take risks when it comes to innovation and idea development.

Tech as a growth enabler

Another reason why the Nordics produce one unicorn after another is that these countries are very technologically advanced. Ranked by the European Commission, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden are the top three most digital countries in the EU.

The software-based service, Skype, was the very first unicorn to be born in Europe as a result of a Nordic co-creation. Many successful companies built around tech have since followed. For example, Lunar, the Aarhus-based FinTech Unicorn, broke the record for the largest investment in 2021, raising more than 1.56 billion DKK. And recently, they raised 520 million DKK in new capital – bringing their Series D total to more than 2 billion DKK.

The Nordics are booming with tech businesses and startups that deliver modernised and future-proof solutions. Why is that? It can, once again, be explained by the structure of the Nordic societies. The Nordic governments make implementing tech-services easy for businesses. Besides a general dedication to top as leading tech nations, there is also a wide supply of helpful amenities such as fast broadband cover. In Denmark, fast broadband and fast connection is at a rate well above average European levels. This is why 94% of Danish citizens actively use a variety of online services.

Also, the Nordic governments have been early enforcers of environmental policies, which have created a need for sustainable (and digital) solutions. This is also why the Nordic countries are global leaders within the cleantech field.

An international mindset

Besides being eager to develop tech solutions, the Nordics are also mindful of their geographical and demographical position. To compete with contenders like Silicon Valley, the Nordics need to collaborate both inside the region and beyond. Iceland is a noteworthy example. Though being a remote island with only 360.000 people, Iceland has managed to create an international brand. Award-winning accelerators have opened up in Reykjavik, and Iceland has now become a VR and gaming hub, due to their international mindset and appreciation of collaboration.

This applies to the rest of the Nordic countries and is emphasized by the fact that most Nordic people speak English fluently. Consequently, making the Nordics an attractive region for anyone looking to establish connections in Europe. Not to mention in our own backyard, Aarhus. The Aarhus-startup ecosystem is booming with record-breaking investments in 2021. No wonder Denmark is ranked the second-best country in the world to start a business in.

These small countries in the Nordic region are managing to punch well above their weight when it comes to sprouting unicorns and successful startups in general. The Nordics is an area you shouldn’t miss.

Other EXciting