Startup Funding in Denmark
Where do I find Danish investors for my startup?
I am often asked by both Danish entrepreneurs and foreigners moving to Denmark about the different options for startup financing locally. Below is therefore a very brief introduction to that subject.
Many business angels prefer to invest together in consortia. Denmark is no exception and there are four regional business angels networks with which entrepreneurs can get in contact and in front of which pitch to their members:
Many business angels are for all sorts of reasons not a member of any of the above formal networks, in many cases because they already have large personal networks and therefore do not need the exposure/deals arising from the BA networks. Finding these is a bit trickier, but try:
- DVCA – Danish Venture Capital Association. An NGO organising both Danish venture funds but also Danish business angels. On this member list you will find a lot of angels who are not active in the formal BA networks
However there are also many angels who are not even member of the DVCA. This goes for example for a lot of the successful IT entrepreneurs who are now investing part of their fortunes in new startups:
- Morten Lund (Skype), Jesper Buch (Just Eat), Martin Thorborg (Amino, Jubii etc.), Morten Wagner (Freeway), Tommy Ahlers (Podio), Janus Friis (Skype), Ditlev Bredahl (UK2), Morten Strunge (Onfone), Thomas Madsen-Mygdal (Podio), Mads Peter Veiby (M1), Thor Angelo (LanguageWire), Kaare Danielsen (Jobindex), Moonis Kamil (Onfone), Niels Henrik Rasmussen (Secunia), Lars Torpe (Mach), Klaus Nyengaard (JustEat), etc. etc.
The best way to find these is to look into who funded previous startups within the same segment/industry you are in. This you can find via news articles but also via company databases like www.proff.dk.
Public innovation centres
To bridge the Valley of Death for startup financing the Danish Government has decided to run public innovation centres. These act and think almost like venture funds, but invest much earlier than a regular VC. The normal initial investment round is typically around 3–4 million DKK. Until 2014 there were six centres spread across Denmark who invested mostly regionally, but these were merged this year to just four centres. These are still located around Denmark, but invest across the country:
- Pre-Seed Innovation (Copenhagen – affiliated with SEED Capital)
- CapNova (Århus/Roskilde):
- Syddansk Teknologisk Innovation (Odense, Taastrup)
- Borean Innovation (Aalborg, Herning)
Of course Denmark has real venture funds. Below are listed some of the most active:
- SEED Capital (IT, medtech)
- Sunstone Capital (IT, life sciences)
- Northcap (IT)
- VF Venture (venture arm of Vækstfonden)
- NorthZone (IT)
- Novo Ventures (corporate venture fund – life sciences)
- Lundbeckfond Ventures (corporate venture fund – life sciences)
- Creandum (Swedish – but active in Denmark)
A startup accelerator typically does not invest huge sums directly, but participation in a startup accelerator has for many startups been pivotal in their future fundraising via access/exposure to business angels and venture funds. There has been an explosion in the number of active accelerators – also in Denmark , but the two leading accelerators in Denmark are:
As any entrepreneur will confirm, banks in general don’t like to lend money to startups with an unproven business model. Vækstfonden (the Danish growth fund) has two options that can help bridge this gap and are therefore relevant for startups:
I know the above list is brief and therefore not comprehensive, but hopefully a good starting point for entrepreneurs looking for funding in Denmark.
Feel free to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you think something is missing.
Nicolaj Højer Nielsen