Funding your startup in Sweden
Tomasz Gidzgier, has written this cool introduction to getting startup financing in Sweden.
Below I provide a brief introduction for the Swedish market that I have been researching while collecting materials for the book.
Sweden is quite unique as a country when it comes to supporting the Startup Ecosystem. The government does a lot of work to support local initiatives and opens up many government backed funding programs to entrepreneurs whose Startups are not necessarily linked to academia or other types of research. The institutions every entrepreneur should contact are:
- ALMI – offices in every part of Sweden. ALMI provides the first initial grant which is not needed to pay back if the funding is used in the right purpose. Besides ALMI founds through convertible loans, helps with incubation and introduces to venture capital.
- Vinnova – Sweden’s official innovation agency based in Stockholm. Vinnova provides funding through a range of grants aimed at different industries. Recently they have opened up for more non research based projects.
- Tillväxtverket – Swedish agency for economic and regional growth.
- Specific local funds – every local municipality announces funding for local innovative companies/ideas.
- Specific industry funding – if you are in a particular industry check your industry’s trade organization and see what grants they offer.
- Industrifonden – Sweden’s official industry fund. Despite the size, sometimes they invest in smaller companies with global potential. If not investing they can open up for other contacts in their network which can provide initial investments. Representatives across whole country.
- Universities – check the local university near your location. Universities, especially those with Entrepreneurship master programs provide with initial funding possibilities or financing in form of free office space at an incubator or simply access to a broad expert/investor network. See for example Lund University Innovation System, Krinova or Chalmers Innovation.
- Venture Cup – nationwide business (plan) competition. It is widely discussed if business plans are needed or if one should only use a Business Model Canvas but the bottom line is that every Startup should have a short “steer document” laying out the foundations. If not for the prizes the competitions will give you media exposure and provide some structure to your organization.
In general we advise entrepreneurs or wannabe entrepreneurs in Sweden to take a deep look around your local environment as there is guaranteed for sure a publicly backed support platform for entrepreneurs. There are so many local initiatives in Sweden but that it is beyond the scope of this article to present them all.
While investing Business Angels want to minimize their risk and therefore like to invest in groups, consortia or pair together with other investors. Sweden is no exception to that. If you are looking for business angels you should reach out to:
- Connect – the biggest Business Angel Network in Sweden. Besides being a network with nationwide offices, Connect has many international partners and organizes every year investment themed conferences across Sweden. Connect organizes as well a very important event for entrepreneurs – Språngbräda – during which entrepreneurs are invited to pitch their ideas for an investor panel. Check with your local office how you apply for events.
- Framtidslyftet – works similarly to crowdfunding.
- SeedfundIt – coming soon, works similarly to crowdfunding.
- Partners for Development investments in Life Sciences – organization for investments in Life Sciences for both entrepreneurs and investors.
- Partner Invest Norr – network for Business Angels and entrepreneurs.
- Roslagens Affärsänglar – Business Angel network.
- Spiltan – network of professionals from different industries who invest together in different ventures.
- Stockholms Affärsänglar – Stockholm Business Angel Network.
- Västkustens Affärsänglar – Business Angel Network on the west coast of Sweden.
Besides the official Business Angel networks some of the Business Angels invest their own private equity in different Startups which have products specific for their area of expertise. To name a few, they are:
- Hampus Jakobsson (TAT), Pierre Elzouki (Scalado), Ludvig Linge (TAT), Car Silbersky (PolarRose), Jan Erik Solem (PolarRose),
The good thing about Sweden is that in most cases the Business Angels are very active and open to being contacted via mail or social networks. They all feel urgency and commitment for enhancing the Startup ecosystem. Before contacting any Business Angel make sure you will find out enough to see what a particular individual is interested in and what his background is. You can easily find information online about the recent acquisitions or events organized by private Business Angels. Besides the Business Angels there is a second category of so called “Superangels” who invest together with Venture Funds.
Incubators, Accelerators, Science Parks, Crowdfunding and other support organizations
Organizations mentioned in this paragraph usually do not invest huge amounts but they provide the entrepreneurs with valuable advice, networking events, contacts and some grants. Make sure you check out the following organizations:
- Lund University Innovation System,
- Chalmers Innovation
- Swedish Incubators and Science Parks
- SeedfundIt – coming soon, works similarly to crowdfunding.
- Business Region Göteborg
- Minc Malmö
- Ideon Innovation
- Arctic Business Incubator
- Invest in Skåne
- Foo Cafe
- Startup People of Sweden
- Founders Alliance
Again, make sure that you check your local environment for all kinds of organizations that can provide you with valuable information.
The reason while we gathered Incubators, Accelerators, Crowdfunding and other support organizations is that all of them have things in common and their areas of expertise overlap. The ecosystem in Sweden is enough welcoming that each of those organizations are open to visit for every entrepreneur.
Sweden has many active Venture Funds that have invested in the big well known successes and even some of them are running second “editions” of their funds.
- Spintop Ventures – a fund managed by private partners launching Spintop II soon.
- Creandum – probably Sweden’s most know Venture Fund.
- Uminovainvest – local fund in the north.
- Sörmlandsfonden – local fund in Sörmland.
- Sydsvensk Entreprenörfond – invest in small and large companies.
- Stockholm Innovation
- Sting Capital – invest in early stages.
- Startkapital Norr
- Idenofonden – venture fund based in south of Sweden.
- Jonkoping Business Development – venture fund connected to Jönkopings Science Park.
- Industrifonden – Sweden’s official industry fund.
- Schibsted Growth
- NFT Ventures
Swedish Venture Funds are generally open-minded and eager to help out in all Startup ecosystem building activities or initiatives. As for contacting them sometimes it might be as simple as looking up the contact details of a specific individual at a specific venture fund’s website. They will not make a decision quick but if your case is legitimate and you feel that you have something to say they will be able to advise you.
If you decided to place your Startup in Sweden, you’re making the right choice for many reasons. One of them is that the common effort and commitment of everyone involved in the Swedish Startup Ecosystem is proving to be fruitful. Sweden based Startups are “hot” and draw the attention of foreign investors to great extents. At the same time as the initial company valuations tend to be low, it attracts foreign investors as they are getting more out from their investment.
I know that the above list is brief and therefore not comprehensive, but hopefully a good starting point for entrepreneurs looking for funding in Sweden.