The State of Nordic Impact Startups 2022

The notoriously entrepreneurial Nordics have a reputation for social equality in their policy-making, but how does that convert into their startup ecosystem?

In partnership with Danske Growth, we’ve once again dived into whether Nordic countries really do over-index for impact innovation, and how they stack up in the challenges of industry diversity.

Report - The State of Nordic Impact Startups 2022

2021 say a huge record for impact investment in the Nordics, with $5.5B raised. While it was a record year all round for VC, the growth in Nordic impact investment outstripped the pace of global VC. In a more tempered, return-to-normal year of 2022, investment is still on track to beat 2022 levels.

The Nordics do indeed over-index for impact funding. 26% of all startup funding this year has gone to impact startups, more than Europe as a whole, or any other continent. Just 8% of US VC funding currently goes to backing impact startups.

Impact now ranks behind just Health and Fintech for startup employment and job creation.

Of the 59 unicorns that the Nordics’ have produced, seven are impact unicorns, and all have emerged in the last three years. The pace is picking up as it is shown that impact does not mean unable to scale and offer returns.

The gender balance of Nordic impact startup founding teams is marginally better than non-impact startups, but there is still a lot of work to do to reach parity. Just 12% of Nordic impact startup have all-women founding teams, compared to 77% with all-men founding teams, and 11% with mixed-gender founding teams. Of non-impact startups in the Nordics, just 5% are founded solely by women

The Nordic impact ecosystem is still at a relatively early stage of development, but these countries punch well above their weight in the world of startups and impact innovation. In absolute terms they are smaller than some of their bigger Western European neighbours and the US, but offer both an interesting proving ground for impact innovation, and a leading blueprint for the rest of the world, while still having work to do.

Report - The State of Nordic Impact Startups 2022