Finland’s women-led VC firm Voima Ventures is expanding in the Nordics. Investment Director Jenny Engerfelt and a senior Venture Advisor Malin Carlstrom will be covering the firm’s investment operations in Sweden. The Helsinki-based firm is aiming to support more seed-stage startups to fill the gap stemming from the big interest to later stages and mega rounds. The company will benefit from the experiences of these two women executives in the industry. With their contributions, they are hoping to find more game-changing and impact-driven next-generation founders and scientists with groundbreaking ideas to help.
Deep tech VC Voima Ventures bets on scaling solutions from science and diversity – and is now taking on the Nordics with two new female team members in Sweden
Women-led VC funds are still few and far between – especially in the male-dominated deep tech field. Voima Ventures continues to renew the Nordic tech investing scene as two seasoned VC women executives strengthen this science VC’s operations and investment team in Sweden and across the Nordics.
Starting April, Voima Ventures grows their team with two new investment professionals. Investment Director Jenny Engerfelt (formerly Almi Invest) supported by a senior Venture Advisor Malin Carlstrom (Head of Ventures at ABB Electrification) will grow Voima Ventures’ investment operations in Sweden.
“We’re incredibly excited to see these two superwomen joining our mission. The purpose of Voima Ventures has always been to be a truly diverse Nordic deep tech fund, and having team members in both Finland and Sweden will surely help us strengthen our Nordic research and tech hub presence”, says Inka Mero, Managing Partner and founder at Voima Ventures.
The expansion to Sweden is an important step for Voima Ventures. While having a truly diverse and international team has been in the core values from the very start, the strengthened presence in Sweden also makes it easier to work with Swedish deep tech entrepreneurs on a grassroot level. In addition, a truly focused deep tech fund such as Voima Ventures is necessary in combating the deep tech gap that’s present in the Nordic startup scene. The majority of Nordic deep tech investments still flow to later stage and mega rounds, and Voima Ventures wants to fill in the existing seed -stage gap.
“I joined Voima Ventures because I am extremely motivated by the mission to support early stage deep tech entrepreneurs with big missions”, says Jenny Engerfelt and continues: “There are so many great entrepreneurs with ideas with scientific foundation or deep tech focus that have a true impact on the world, but there is not enough money in the crucial early stages.
The grassroot-level work we’re able to do with founders in various domains like quantum, biotech or new materials is often overlooked. Especially in deep tech, visiting factories and labs, and connecting with universities and other early stage investors is a big part in assessing the startups potential and supporting the founders in the first steps in scaling and recruiting talent.”
Having worked as both an Investment Manager and Fund Manager for the better part of a decade, Jenny brings hands-on experience from early stage investing and a broad network into the Swedish startup ecosystem.
In addition to Jenny, high-profile VC investor Malin Carlström will be joining the Swedish Voima Ventures team as a senior Venture Advisor. Malin is a well-known venture capital veteran, who’s spent the last years heading ABB Electrifications global Venture team. Since Malin’s recent work has focused on electrification and digitization of the industry, and she’s led several high-profile deep tech rounds globally, working with the Nordic early-stage venture scene complements her current role well, in addition to providing value to startups eyeing internationalization and growth.
“At Voima Ventures, I hope to help evaluate promising technologies and support teams in the early phases. With my growth stage and corporate insights, I know the routes to successful expansion – and how to avoid the pitfalls”, Malin states.
“Ultimately, we hope our strengthened Nordic presence can help us find more game-changing and impact-driven next-generation founders and scientists with groundbreaking ideas, and that we can help them scale new solutions globally for the people, planet and industry”, Inka Mero says.
You can get deep insight from our interviews with Jenny Engerfelt and Inka Mero.
Jenny Engerfelt responses:
What learnings are you bringing from Almi Invest to your new role Voima Ventures?
I’ve spent the last 13 years supporting and investing in startups and working truly hands on with entrepreneurs and investors. I’ve seen many mistakes and made many mistakes myself but also lots of success. The most successful exits at Almi Invest had innovative solutions based on research, teams with domain expertise, founders with skin in the game and they were operating on markets with high growth. Building successful startups takes time and you need to be patient, persistent and work hard. Solving a true problem is key and combined with a top team can get you very far. It’s important to stay focused, say no when needed and think big.
What was your main motivation to join Voima Ventures?
Definitely the position with early stage and deep tech. Voima Ventures is filling a part of a huge gap and I see great potential in the New Nordics in general and Sweden specific. Working with a team with a diverse background and women led VC with a super clear vision was an opportunity I just had take.
What is unique about the Swedish deep tech ecosystem?
Looking at venture rounds in the New Nordics, Sweden is the largest market with 36% going towards deep tech. There is a lot of research and academic funding in Sweden and one uniqueness is that Swedish researchers own their own research result and this makes it easier to form teams and companies with incentives from start. I also think that the collaboration and sharing mentality in Sweden is high, incubators are collaborating, investors are sharing deal flow etc which is beneficial for all.
What gap will Voima Ventures fill in the Swedish deep tech ecosystem?
The Nordic VC market is on high growth but it’s dominated by later stage investments. The number of deep tech companies has grown by 50% the last 6 years but seed investments into deep tech companies has actually decreased. There are many angels and private investors in the early stages in Sweden but VC money is not really there. I’ve been frustrated about the gap in the early stage VC market for a long time. I’ve seen so many startups with groundbreaking ideas that are not funded enough leading to competition taking over and founders that don’t last all the way. Voima Ventures has a unique position and a true will to support deep tech entrepreneurs in these crucial early stages. There is a lot of great founders to support and many great investments to make.
How will you engage with entrepreneurs and scientists on the grassroots level?
I have worked really close with founders and I enjoy getting my hands dirty. I will be out there visiting researchers, open up our broad network to support founders in any way we can. Voima Ventures has a strong collaboration with VTT and we can connect entrepreneurs with top class research and network.
What technologies excite you today?
I love technologies that can have a true impact on the world. We see exciting things in new material with new performance properties, digital health and self monitoring, novel proteins, hydrogen technologies for storing and production, carbon capture technologies and quantum – the list can go on forever.
Inka Mero responses:
Why are Jenny Engerfelt and Malin Carlstrom the perfect additions to the team?
Deep tech investing talent is scarce, and it took us over a year of prudent search to find professionals with the right experience, track record and cultural add. Jenny is a fantastic addition to our team and brings in a hands-on seed and early stage startup investing experience and angel network from Sweden, and has worked with several deep tech teams from the start at Almi. Malin, on the other hand, has unique global networks, industrial background through ABB and has lead several successful deep tech investments throughout her career. We feel privileged to have her as advisor.
Why is now the right time for this expansion to Sweden?
Over 30% of our deal flow already comes from Sweden and the volume is growing. Since Voima Ventures foundation in 2019, we have been actively exploring the Swedish deep tech market together with local VC co-investors, and feel that now is the time to set our foot on the ground permanently.
Is this expansion a sign of things to come for Voima Ventures?
Building a VC fund is a long term work and from the start I’ve said that we want to grow into leading Nordic and Baltic scale deep tech fund. Deep tech and our strong purpose of investing into planet positive and health impact companies is very much what the Swedish ecosystem is about.
What makes the Nordic and Baltic region world-class as a deep tech ecosystem?
Well, to name few, the world’s leading research ecosystem, unique growth entrepreneurial talent and the momentum to build scalable businesses with impact.
What technologies excite you today?
The easy answer is of course quantum technologies – like our two portfolio companies QuantrolOx, the Anglo-Finnish startup from Oxford which optimizes qubit performance with ML and AI, or Quantagonia, a Fraunhofer spin-off, enabling the migration of legacy software to quantum scale already today.
You are hosting a panel at Arctic 15 Helsinki Deep Tech Track on June 8th. What will it be about?
We will continue with the quantum topic and bring in the leading Nordic quantum CEOs from IQM, Algorithmiq and Quantrolox to discuss the present and future of quantum ecosystem, where to focus among the big players, how to grow, drive business in quantum age and collaborate to get there.