Insights from Slush: balance needed in funding options

The European private VC market is still relatively small, so young Nordic companies increasingly turn to public funding to scale up.

If you run a young company in the Nordic region, November is one of your favourite times of the year. It is the time of Slush, the annual technology and startup event which attracts about 25,000 people to Helsinki. As always, one of the biggest topics at Slush 2019 was funding. 

Is Europe doing enough to support its startups? was a roundtable discussion at Slush which explored the European startup environment. Moderator Maija Palmer led with a telling statistic: the private VC market in Europe is worth 37 billion dollars, which is only half the size of the Asian market and a third the size of the American one. Where can young European companies find funding? 

“Europe consists of distributed startup ecosystems across all 28 member states, and this helps us create more startups than the US,” said Jean-Eric Paquet, European Commission Director General for Research and Innovation. “However, scaling up is a challenge.” 

Paquet manages the Horizon 2020 programme and its successor, Horizon Europe. The new programme has a proposed budget increase to 100 billion euros. 

“The whole idea is to bring something to this financing gap because early stage venture capital is relatively underdeveloped,” explains Susanna Kiijärvi, project manager at Spinverse. “This is where Spinverse can help SMEs. The EIC Accelerator has a maximum grant of 2.5 million euros and maximum equity of 15 million euros, and this is very attractive.” 

Yet it isn’t easy to get funding: Paquet points out that only 7-8 per cent of applicants succeed. Because competition is so fierce good help and advice is critical. 

“Spinverse has experts in all the main industrial sectors and in-depth understanding of technology,” Kiijärvi says. “Additionally, we understand how the application process works.” 

She also points out that there are many different funding schemes. Spinverse looks at the whole range of funding opportunities to find the correct mechanism which best fits a company’s needs.

 “There is the EIC Pathfinder, Accelerator, Fast Track to Innovation and many others,” says Kiijärvi.

 Kiijärvi says Spinverse experts help a company to look at their business plan, strategy, target market and business model and make sure they are ambitious and executable. The goal is to receive funding, but also the application process itself is beneficial. 

“One positive thing about EU funding is that it is impact-driven and doesn’t only consider economic growth,” she says. “Europe can lead with this type of investing to improve society. I was very pleased to see that having a positive societal impact is now mainstream at Slush.” 

If you are interested in learning more about how Spinverse can help you apply for funding, please get in touch or sign up for our free SME webinar.