Talking to Norwegian entrepreneurs over the years we’ve heard two things about the state of their early-stage funding. We’ve heard that there are no investors, or if there are, they’re government backed funds managed by people with backgrounds in Finance or the Norwegian government – not exactly smart money. Every nation’s entrepreneurs cry loudly about how little money is available, but the data backs it up. According to the Norwegian Venture Capital Association, in 2013 only €2.2 million was invested by Norwegian PE firms into Norwegian companies. Finland, a roughly equally sized country, had double that.
Now we’ve received word that Alliance Venture Capital, an Oslo based firm, is bringing in a network of former IT entrepreneurs and managers as a network and has announced a NOK 510 million (€60.63 million) fund to focus on early-stage investments in IT called Alliance Venture Spring which will invest 2-5 million NOK (€240,000- €600,000) into companies primarily in Norway.
We last wrote about Alliance Venture capital when covering the €2.6 million round they participated in Oslo’s Outracks along with Northzone.
The firm tells us the fund was oversubscribed at closing with the largest investor in the fund being the Norwegian state through Innovation Norway, which put it NOK 250 million, with mobile operator Telenor and Opera Software as strategic investors. Other private LPs in the fund include Kistefos, Umoe, DNB, Oslotech, MP Pensjon among others.
What excited the Norwegian entrepreneurs I spoke to was the 20+ executives and experienced entrepreneurs they’re bringing in from companies like Chipcon, Fronter, Funcom, Fast, Schibsted/FINN, Tandberg, Point Carbon and Basefarm. These executives will form what they’re calling the Executive Investor Network that will work actively with the fund.
Jan-Erik Hæreid, Partner at Alliance Venture, tells us that essentially what they’ve done is formalized their entrepreneurial network, and have gotten these executives either to invest in the fund, or are likely to participate in their investments as co-investors, depending on what type of company it is, in order to add their skills and expertise.
What this means is hopefully more smart money for Norwegian entrepreneurs outside the oil and gas industry – something Norwegian entrepreneurs have been waiting for for some time.