Finland and Baltics Grab Investors' Attention At Mobile World Congress

    Editor’s Note: This post is part of a partnership with International VC Zone

    With nearly 100 companies participating or exhibiting, Finland and the Baltic States clearly made a lot of noise at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year, the worlds largest exhibition for the mobile industry. The companies from the region clearly demonstrated that this is an important location for everybody, especially investors to be interested in.

    As Michael Jackson, former COO of Skype and currently the general partner of Mangrove Capital Partners told Arcticstartup: “This year’s MWC was huge! The new venue is massive, and I would say it needs a year to settle down.”

    Nokia is no longer the single focus point and there are many others that are making a dent in the market thanks to an abundance of talent and strong entrepreneurial spirit. This creates the perfect ingredients for companies that are aiming to conquer the global market. Companies from the region do so through breakthrough innovation and an understanding that in order to be a global player, they need to think big right from the start.

    At Mobile World Congress, companies were seeking to launch new products and gain immediate recognition, find corporate partners that are inaccessible otherwise, get an understanding of market trends and of course talk to potential investors.

    There were 28 exhibitors from Finland and 43 from the Baltic States. Out of those there were many interesting and exciting companies. For example Vibsolas, creates the most versatile safety device that can protect anything from your laptop to your house with a single scalable device. Fabulonia, makes worlds fist 3D printing copyrighting possible. Piceasoft makes switching your phones a hassle free, one-click solution. Singon revolutionizes the world of Karaoke by making it accessible anywhere in an innovative way. Sensinode is getting ready for The Internet Of Things. Powerkiss is bringing wireless charging everywhere. Jolla is taking on Apple and Samsung in the mobile phone market. You can find the full list of exhibitors sortable by country, here.

    Compared to last year, there was an increased number of companies and attendants from the region. According to Samu Keränen, the CEO of Signon “there were more Finns than ever”.

    We were able to talk to a number of people who attended and in summary it could be said that Finland and the Baltic States are becoming a much more visible force on the global arena.

    Perhaps even more importantly, the region is becoming very interesting to outside investors. According to William Cardwell, senior advisor at Aalto University, the MWC gave a “very strong message that VCs are already doing this. It will show up in the numbers during the next 1-2 years.  I can give some anectotal evidence, though in the end the numbers will speak.  It looks promising that Finland has as better supply/demand situation than for example Berlin, and the Hub message is starting to get traction.”

    Moreover Ykä Marjanen of Vibsolabs shared that they have “met several VC’s and most of them have been to Finland or were interested to come here. I think the success stories attract investors and new startups. And now Finland has few of them, which helps other finnish startups to get some attention.”

    There are many reasons why investors target the region. One of the main reasons is a wide variety of great companies and talent thanks to the changing working environment in Finland whereby larger corporations are reducing their workforce, creating an abundance of people who are ready to take risks and pursue the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Not to mention developers looking up to Skype in Estonia and students from Aaltoes. Moreover, initiatives such as the Finnish TEKES provide a lot of governmental support in a form of non-dilutive funding.

    Finally there is a great startup ecosystem with weekly meetups and events, growing number of VC’s, Angels and an expanding media coverage. According to Samu Keränen from Singon, “VC’s should pay more attention to Nordic and Baltic startups because of the cost and quality level of engineering, entrepreneurial spirit and the startup synergy that is going on!” and Marjo Uotila from TEKEL added that “especially in terms of mobile technology, there are many startups with fresh ideas [here], ready to conquer the world, with a background of strong Nokia presence.”

    International VC Zone
    The purpose of International VC Zone is to increase the activity of international risk capital investors in Finland, the greater St. Petersburg area in Russia, and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. VC Zone offers financiers services that facilitate entry to these markets, by increasing visibility among local companies and making reaching them as easy as possible. International VC Zone helps financiers find interesting opportunities, organize meetings and visits, and network with local financiers and other players. VC Zone strengthens international financier networks by sharing them. Partners of International VC Zone are Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship, Greater Helsinki Promotion, Sitra, Technopolis, and Tampere.

    International VC Zone was also present at Mobile World Congress to introduce investors to deal flow from the Baltic Rim as well as promoting the region as a hub of hi-tech, hi-growth and hi-ambition companies. On our web page you can find information on current members, upcoming events reports on investment activity and companies looking to broaden their network and/or looking for financing.”