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Monday, May 23, 2022

10 Northern European Startups To Follow In 2016

Startup-boom is still on in the Nordics and Baltics, so how to know who to follow in 2016?

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The Nordic and Baltic startup scene really rocked it in 2015. We got great news and statistics from the region throughout the year.

First in March, Creandum stated that 9% of global billion dollar exits come from the Nordics though only having 2% share of global GDP and 3% of the population.

In November, Labs of Latvia combined data from the Baltic startup scene summing up that there’s over 800 startups in the region, and the number is growing daily. This makes a whopping 13.7 startups for every 100,000 people living in the Baltic countries.

There’s still a huge buzz about startups in the region and new interesting companies are founded basically every day – but what are the region’s startups we should really concentrate on following in 2016?

We handpicked for you ten startups from the Nordics and Baltics.

Solu (Finland)

You still haven’t heard of it? You should – cause it’s an extremely ambitious project that challenges people to rethink how we interact with computers.

Solu is a cloud-based and pocket-sized PC – and first provider of computer as a service.

Solu was able to keep it on stealth mode until last October, though they announced raising six figures for their secret project already on November 2014. Photo: Solu.co

The startup behind the world’s smallest personal computer launched a Kickstarter campaign on October 16th, and passed the target of €200,000 during the first week of November.

Next we’re looking forward to the deliveries, that are estimated to start in May 2016 to actually see how the users will adopt using the device. Since as always, when somebody is doing something completely new, opinions are strongly divided.

Mure VR (Iceland)

Dreaming of working from the beach, but you have those few meetings at the office this week? The Icelandic startup Mure VR, using VR-gaming technology, helps you to experience that using technology. Nevertheless, Mure VR’s solution is developed primarily to help workers concentrate in often noisy open office spaces. Does this sound too entertaining for work environment?

The company was founded in 2014 by three Icelanders, and their application, Breakroom, can be used with Oculus Rift VR glasses.

Breakroom will be first developed for solo work – but it’s possible to use for instance Skype and participate on teleconferences through the application. While the user moves around by using keyboard and mouse, in the future Mure VR plans to add also hand gestures using Leap Motion technology on the subscription-based app.

From the buzz of open office to calming nature with VR technology Photo: Mure VR

As the company reported already in this autumn’s CoFounder magazine issue that they’re negotiating with a Fortune 100 tech company about beta-testing – so we’re excited to see if this imaginative business idea will get a big deal in the near future.

Guaana (Estonia)

Guaana is a platform for open innovation, where scientists, pioneers, visionaries and change-makers can build open communities around their research and vision. The goal of the platform is to enable technology transfer through crowdsourcing.

Guaana connects scientists around the world, and also enables gathering information through “Open Collaboration Challenges”. This means basically anyone can launch a challenge on the platform, and use the power of collective intelligence to solve the toughest scientific problems.

“Average cost of an Open Innovation project is approximately €43,000 right now if you want to post an ideation to any existing services”, describes Marko Russiver, the co-founder of Guaana, and says that the cost is completely unrealistic for recently founded startups. On the other hand, even innovation divisions of major corporations don’t always succeed to create most innovative solutions though they would have the money.

While Guaana has been talking with CERN, NASA, Google and top scientists around the world, we’ll see if the year 2016 will be the year of demonstrating that there’s no borders in science.

EasySize (Denmark)

Are you avoiding shopping online cause you’re not sure about your size? This big data using fitting tool will help you to find the right size and style.

EasySize is a data-driven technology that predicts the correct clothing size. According to the company, it decreases returns of online shoppers by 35-40% and saves 5-7% of revenue. Through the technology, EasySize analyzes the customers shopping behavior using several factors to predict the size of clothes.

EasySize – founded in 2013 – is available in Denmark, UK and Sweden at the moment, but they’re expanding their operations to other big European fashion e-commerce countries such as France and Germany in 2016.

In Denmark, the company estimates that they have behavioural data on more than 10 percent of Danish e-commerce fashion customers – so let’s see what happens when they enter the bigger markets.

Soundtrap (Sweden)

Soundtrap is a collaborative online music and audio recording studio. Soundtrap is an easy-to-use tool that helps people to co-create and share music on Mac, Windows, iPad, Android tablets and phones, Linux and ChromeBooks.

The beta product of Soundtrap was released at the end of 2013, followed by the public version in June 2015. They also entered the educational market with launching Soundtrap for Schools last summer. For the learning platform, Soundtrap was rewarded as the best website for teaching and learning by the American Association of School Librarians. They’re also the official education partner of Google.

Growing from 20,000 users to over 300 000 users over the last year organically makes the company competing with Garageband interesting to follow. Soundtrap also closed a $1.5 million seed round last November, so they also have backers to get closer to their goals – becoming the number one platform for co-creating music and revolutionizing music education.

AirDog (Latvia)

AirDog launched on Kickstarter with the punchline “World’s first auto-follow drone for GoPro Camera” in summer 2014, and they raised in total 1,368,177 dollars from 1,357 backers. In 2015, the Riga-based AirDog was awarded in CES Awards as the best drone.

The battery of AirDog lasts from 10 to 18 minutes, depending on flig
ht speed and weather conditions.

The company managed to ship its first drones to the backers in December, and since the dron
e has been designed with top action and adventure sports in mind – it will be exciting to see how the patiently waiting user community will start using the solution around the world. We’ll see if this dog follows the users wherever they go!

Unacast (Norway)

While Kahoot is still one of the most well known startups coming from Norway, Unacast – the world’s biggest sensor and beacon network – is also getting recognition all around the world.

Unacast is thriving on backend of proximity – the industry born from the release of Apple iBeacons in 2013. The Oslo-based company was founded in September 2014, and has grown fast to having over one million sensors and 31 partners. Year 2015 was interesting for the company that experimented the possibilities of beacon technology for instance with Coca-Cola at Norwegian movie theater.

Unacast also launched Proxbook – the online guide to proximity marketing and the world´s largest directory of proximity solution providers.

The company has raised in total 1.3 million euros in funding, and their team grew last year from 10 to 30 employees. While the company expanded their operations quickly last year – started to publish quarterly published proximity reports and have now offices in San Francisco, New York, London and Oslo – it’s gonna be exciting to see what Unacast will do next within the proximity field.

NanoAvionics (Lithuania)

NanoAvionics is an aerospace technology company founded as a spin-off from University of Vilnius in 2014. The founders of the company are members of first successful Lithuanian CubeSat project LituanicaSAT-1 – which was one of the two first European CubeSats launched from International Space Station.

The company using nano-satellites capabilities for commercial and scientific applications will launch their second satellite, LituanicaSat-2, in 2016.

They’re specialized on integrated CubeSats and Small Satellites solutions such as mission design, hardware assembly, integration and verification, testing campaigns, project documentation, launch provisions management and modular chemical propulsion systems based on non-toxic fuel. With a growing team, new expanded product portfolio and the launch on the second satellite, NanoAvionics will be one of the most interesting startups to follow from the Baltic startup scene.

Velmenni (Estonia)

Forget Wi-Fi – Here comes Li-Fi?

Estonia-based Velmenni is building a new wireless technology for high-speed data transmission. Their product Jugnu is a next generation smart LED bulb, that can transfer data through visible light with up-to 1GBps speed. This Li-Fi communication system uses light as a medium of transport instead of traditional radio frequencies. In comparison to radio waves, the use of light in order to transmit data may be limited but there’s huge opportunities for the technology.

Despite of the name with Finnish or Estonian vibe, Velmenni has Indian roots. The co-founders, Deepak Solanki and Saurabh Garg, moved to the Baltics to join the Estonian hardware accelerator Buildit in 2014. The company also has an office in Delhi, and before Jugnu they’ve already have had products for home automation, vehicle tracking and traffic light down-counting.

Velmenni made it to top four in this year’s Slush 100 pitching competition, where they announced that they have started trialling the technology within offices and industrial environments in Tallinn.

Valossa (Finland)

Search engines are our little helpers in a daily basis, but so far searching video content has been very cumbersome at best. Oulu-based startup Valossa is on the path to revolutionize video search with the technology that interprets natural queries or text input, and translates those into multimedia information retrieval problem. This makes basically any complicated data that is born from videos usable through their proprietary search engine.

The key elements of the technology are natural language understanding, artificial intelligence, machine learning, pattern recognition and audiovisual data analysis.

As the university spinoff is on the process of commercializing and patenting the technology at the moment, it’s going to be interesting to see who’s gonna adapt this technology first. We interviewed Valossa-team for the next issue of CoFounder magazine, and they said they have ongoing negotiations with big global players – so 2016 is expected to be pretty interesting for these guys.

If you want to play around with the demo of the company – check out whatismymovie.com. I for instance, had a song stuck on my head and I couldn’t remember in which movie it had been so I found it through the search by only putting the lyrics I remembered to the search.

And Lincoln Lawyer it was! Photo: whatismymovie.com

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