Category: News (Page 2 of 12)

Nordic startup organisations announce strategic partnership

Late last week, a group of seventeen startup organisations in the Nordics announced they signed a manifesto to form a strategic partnership.

The partnership, which according to a statement is to “creat[e] a channel for strategic cooperation and decision making,” has not been formalised yet, and exactly what shape it will take hasn’t been decided.

The group, collectively known as the Founding Partners of #Nordic Made, includes Icelandic Startups, SUP 46 and other similar organisations from around the Nordics, media like the Nordic Web and Arctic Startups, conferences like Slush, and more.

What are they committing to?

The manifesto states several things:

We agree to make strategic and collective decisions about:

  • International presence
  • Key marketing messages
  • Tangible measurements of success

Founding Partners of #NordicMade commit to:

  • Formalizing a #NordicMade organization.
  • Exploring opportunities for fundraising for a #NordicMade organization.
  • Establish a #NordicMade committee consisting of representatives from every Nordic countries.
  • To maintain transparency in all aspects of operation.
  • Create an open and inclusive community platform.

While not completely clear in the announcement what this means in practical terms, based on a conversation with Salóme Guðmundsdóttir, CEO of Icelandic Startups, I can say it’s the following:

  • The group will look into whether they should formally create an organisation, that has a CEO, a board / committee and more.
  • One of their long-term objectives is to market the Nordics as a collective region. Basically wrapping the activity in the many ecosystems in Scandinavian and Nordic cities under one Nordic brand, to the benefit of all.

This follows a collaboration that has been ongoing between many of these organisations already.

SidekickHealth maker Goodlifeme raises $1.5m round led by Frumtak Ventures

Frumtak Ventures just announced a $1.5m investment into Goodlifeme AB, maker of Sidekick Health. Other participants in the round include Tennin ehf. and other investors.

This investment gives our team of physicians, psychologists, public health professionals and game developers the opportunity to deepen SidekickHealth’s global reach, particularly in the United States,” said Tryggvi Thorgeirsson, co-founder and CEO of Goodlifeme said in a statement.


Sidekick Health is a lifestyle companion app, utilizing insights from behavioral economics, artificial intelligence, and evidence based guidelines from the US CDC, to enhance the effectiveness of lifestyle education and coaching.

According to the statement, the app has shown great benefit to its users:

To date, companies and health organizations that have augmented in-person Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPPs) and employee fitness initiatives with SidekickHealth have seen an 82% retention rate among participants over a 4-month period, 76% increase in participant weight loss, and a 65% reduction in soda consumption.

Eggert Claessen, managing partner of Frumtak Ventures: “SidekickHealth’s solution … presents a significant opportunity to positively impact the wellbeing of employees and patients, while also reducing health-related overhead costs for enterprise companies and organizations globally.”

Picture is of Sidekick Health co-founders Tryggvi Þorgeirsson and Sæmundur Oddsson.

Paula Gould joins Frumtak Ventures as Principal

Paula Gould, who has worked with startup companies in the US, Israel, and Iceland on marketing, branding, and business development, will join Frumtak Ventures as a Principal to spearhead international brand and marketing initiatives.


Paula Gould

“I’m thrilled to be joining Frumtak’s team and looking forward to working with their exceptional portfolio companies to help deepen their international network and strategize growth opportunities,” said Paula in a written statement.

Paula previously led marketing at Greenqloud, Dohop, and Oz, as well as serving on the board of directors at Clara.

“Paula’s experience working with startups on brand and market growth as well as her passion and advocacy for the Icelandic innovation and startup community fit well with our objective to create a role on our team that brings international awareness to our portfolio of companies,” said Eggert Claessen, Managing Partner of Frumtak Ventures in a statement.

This hire marks a first for the Icelandic VC business, following in the footsteps of the world’s best VC funds that routinely have specialist support on staff to help portfolio companies. Icelandic VC has until now solely had full-time employees in the form of investment managers or administrative staff, so this is what

The companies funded by the Technology Development Fund

Mid-December is an important time for the Icelandic startup community, because the biggest financial supporter of startups announces what companies receive funding. 25 projects will be offered a grant, for a total of 450m ISK (~3.75m). The grants come in several types, Company grants, which can range from 20-70m ISK (~$160K-$580K) over two years, and Marketing grants, up to 10m ISK (~$85k) for marketing purposes.

Sproti (20m ISK / ~$160K over two years)

  • Blásúra  – We don’t know of this project, but the contact is for Sigríður Suman, a chemistry professor at the University of Iceland, which suggests it’s related to research.
  • e1 – Marketplace for electric car charging stations. It allows people and organisations that have charging stations to register their station, to allow other car owners to charge their car and the station owners to make some extra money. More here.
  • Travable – travel companion for those with special accessibility needs More here.
  • Yellow beetroot snacks – Founder of Crowbar Protein (Búi Bjarmar) wants to create snacks from yellow beetroots.
  • Platome – One of two Startup Reykjavik 2016 companies receiving a grant. Platome creates nourishment for stemcells.
  • Snakerobots – No info on this company.
  • Travelade – Former Linkedin Product Lead, Andri Heiðar, and his travel startup. More here. 
  • Chess-app – to train the mind.
  • Wasabi Iceland – Previously raised $380k from private investors, growing Wasabi in the east of Iceland.

Vöxtur (50m ISK / ~$420K over two years)

  • Omega Algae – Optimizing EPA-rich algae-oil.
  • Lauf Forks – The company behind the Lauf Forks bicyle forks is continuing development on their product.
  • Flow VR – Meditation in VR, Startup Reykjavik alum.
  • Aldin Dynamics – VR analytics, to analyse user behavior in virtual reality apps.
  • Frostmark – Creating refrigeration products for fishing boats.
  • IceWind – Developing wind turbines for communication masts.
  • InfoMentor – The company behind edtech solution Mentor receives a grant for what they call IM Insights.
  • Gagarín – Developer of exhibitions and shows, for a project they call Mapexplorer.
  • Sæplast – Creating new transportation vessels for fresh foods.
  • Oculis Pharma – The pharmacompany that raised 500m ISK earlier this year from Brunnur.
  • Valka – Fishing-tech company Valka receives a grant to develop their fish processing automation products.
  • SnapStudy – A team of ex-QuizUp people, including former CRO Vala Halldórsdóttir, receive a grant for SnapStudy.
  • asco Harvester – A “street-sweeper” for the oceans. More here (Icelandic).
  • GeoSilica – Creating health-supplements from silica. More here.

Marketing grants (10m ISK / ~$420K over two years)

  • Handpoint – maker of POS software for mobile devices receives a grant to expand to the USA.
  • TARAMAR – Maker of skincare products from algae, Taramar is expanding to the US.

Former NSA Ventures investors raising new early stage fund: Crowberry Capital

CEO of NSA Ventures Helga Valfells, and two investment managers – Hekla Arnardóttir and Jenný Ruth Hrafnsdóttir – just announced that they will be leaving NSA Ventures to found a new VC fund: Crowberry Capital. They’re currently raising the fund.

“There’s a need for an early stage investor right now and we believe that our experience from working in this environment for a long time will help us with this project, Helga Valfells, departing CEO of NSA Ventures said in a statement.

NSA Ventures and the Ministry for Industry an Innovation have during the past several years discussed internally how to increase capital available to early stage companies. At some point there were ideas about raising an early stage fund – codenamed Silfra – as part of NSA to address this. Rather than following that route, the strategy set forth is to develop NSA Ventures into a fund of funds, that invests in venture funds, rather than directly in startups.

Crowberry Capital hasn’t finished fundraising, but according to Helga, the trio have several commitments and aim to raise 5bn ISK (~$45m). The fund will focus on smaller, earlier checks, to come after grants from the Technology Development Fund, but have the ability to follow on into later stages.

Icelandic/Dutch fintech startup Five Degrees raises €10 million

Five Degrees, the Icelandic / Dutch Fintech startup, recently announced a €10m funding round from new investors Karmijn Kapitaal. Previous investors 5square and Velocity Capital (also an investor in Meniga) also participated.

“For us, Karmijn Kapitaal is more than just a new shareholder. Their investment is a sign of trust in our belief that delivering top technology is about people and creating an environment that is about unconventional thinking brought to perfection,” Martijn Hohman, CEO of Five Degrees said in a statement.

The company’s connection to Iceland (and the reason we’re writing about it) is deep. The CTO, and only listed co-founder in the management team, is Björn Hólmþórsson, and the company has offices in Iceland.

According to a statement, this new capital will allow Five Degrees to focus on product development and international expansion. The company develops the banking platform Matrix, which they say “offers an agile customer centric architecture that supports banking operations in a future proof manner, ready for the bank 3.0 paradigm where real, virtual and social meet.”


The people representing onstage Iceland at Slush 2016

Helsinki. Minus 5 celsius. Six and a half hours sunlight. Thousands of startups, founders, investors, journalists and more. It’s Slush time, with all that follows.

Today marks the beginning of the official conference program. This includes a fireside chat with Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca (prediction: it’ll be packed) and a keynote by Daniel Ek.

Iceland has its share of representatives participating in the conference schedule, below is a complete list (if we’re forgetting anything let us know so we can quickly fix it!).

Davíð Helgason

The founder of Unity and Iceland’s first member of the unicorn club participates in several events at Slush:

  • The tool-powered productivity against the winner-takes-all dynamics of tech (Thu. 10:20-10:40, Founder Stage) – Davíð will talk about the democratization of an industry and the race of tool-powered productivity against the winner-takes-all dynamics of tech.
  • Speaker studio Q&A –  following his talk. (Thu. 11:40-12:00, Speaker studio)
  • The rise of the angels (Thu. 13:45-14:10, Founder Stage) – Panel discussion introducing Nordic Makers.
  • Founder to parent: Scaling teams and the human factor (Thu. 14:30-14:55, Black Stage) – A discussion about the changing responsibilities and priorities when there’s a baby in the house.

Ben Bohn (RVX) and Stefán Gunnarsson (Solid Clouds)

CEO’s Ben Bohn, of VR company RVX, and Stefán Gunnarsson, of gaming company Solid Clouds, will represent Iceland at the Nordic Showcase panel  (Wed. 17:10-18:00, Founder Stage)

Björn E. Jónsson

Björn, previously QuizUp and Mure VR, will pitch his new VR / Gaming startup Procelain Fortress at the Slush 100 pitching competition, with an investment prize. Last year’s investment was €650,000. (Wed. 10:40, Pitch Stage)

Ólafur Bogason of Genki

The co-founder of Genki Instruments will host a workshop about motion detectors and other tools for music creation. Genki is developing a motion controller for musicians. (Wed. 10:45-11:45, Room 3, Slush Music)

Salóme Gunnarsdóttir

The CEO of Icelandic Startups will participate in a panel at the #NordicMade Afterwork.

Sigurður Ásgeir Árnason

Co-founder of Drexler – a music driven MMORPG – gives the talk Music Needs Me at the Drop Stage on Slush Music. (Wed. 15:20-15:30, Drop Stage, Slush Music)

Ringing the Nasdaq bell – Helga Valfells’ speech

On Tuesday, a Nordic delegation of startups, investors and ecosystem organisations, rang the Nasdaq bell in New York City. This was part of the second #NordicMade delegation to New York. Helga Valfess, CEO of NSA Ventures gave a speech for the occation, and announced Rising North – a €1.5m fund to finance projects that work towards the internationalisation of the Nordic Startup Scene.


I would like to begin by thanking NASDAQ for hosting us here today.

We are here as delegation from the Nordic startup scene and we are truly excited to be here at NASDAQ and in New York City, one of the most vibrant and successful startup ecosystems in the world. 

In the Nordics we work hard, we are extremely loyal to our company and our cause and we love technology. It is therefore no surprise that the Nordics have produced a string of very successful technology companies.  Spotify, Skype, Supercell, Zendesk and Unity have all come from the Nordics.  

In fact over the last five years, the Nordics, which account for only 4% of the European population, have produced over 25% of all European exits.  If we look at this past decade, 1 in 10 technology companies globally valued at 1 billion dollars or more have come from the Nordics. 

In the Nordics, collaboration is an important part of our culture. The five Nordic countries not only share the midnight sun, but we work together, across countries and across organizations to support entrepreneurs building the next generation of billion dollar companies. 

Today, it is my honor to launch an initiative called the Rising North. The Rising North is a €1.5 million fund to support the internationalization of the Nordic startup ecosystem, to be allocated over the next three years to joint Nordic projects to accelerate the region.

Finally I would like to thank NASDAQ for building a bridge between the Nordics and America.  This truly Iinternational exchange has provided the capital to bring so many great Nordic companies to the global market.

Q3 2016 Funding & Exit report

This quarter’s funding report is the fourth we do, which means we now have a full year to compare to. This is exciting news, because we can now start plotting trends and reading more into the data and where we’re heading. That, in addition to our data gathering project, will help the Icelandic startup community and stakeholders back up (or refute) their opinions with data. You can find older reports here.

  • 6 investments, $20.4m total (disclosed)
  • Average round was $4.08m, four times the Q2/’16 average round, and the highest average since we started doing these reports
  • Iceland accounted for 4% of deployed capital in the Nordics
  • 81% of the capital was from foreign sources
  • 3 of 4 Icelandic VC’s invested in the quarter
  • No exits, which means two quarters in a row without an exit.


This quarter we recorded six investments, and no exits. The biggest investment was Meniga’s $8.2m round, which we record in Q3 because that’s when it was announced (although it closed in Q1).

Funding rounds

(millions of US dollars)

An interesting development is that all the investments were at least $1m. Four investments were into fairly old companies (Meniga, Mint, Greenqloud, Oculis Pharma), and two into younger companies (Datadwell, Takumi). We didn’t pick up any angel or early seed stage investments.

Investments, by size and quarter

We also see a small increase in investments quarter-over-quarter, up to six investments. This implies that the low of four investments last quarter was a seasonal thing (although we won’t assert that, yet).

In regards to the smaller rounds, it’s important to remember that Icelandic angel investors are secretive (or just don’t proactively share their investment data). The fact we didn’t track any doesn’t mean no investments happened.

Number of investments per quarter

This next chart reveals a big positive: We haven’t seen this amount of capital deployed in the Icelandic startup scene for three quarters, and if you don’t count CCP’s $30m round, even longer. The average round is almost double the size of the highest average we’ve had. This is obviously impacted by the age of the companies that were raising funds – maybe we should start tracking that as well.

Capital deployed and average round sizes

(millions of US dollars)

*The average for Q4/2015 doesn’t include the $30m CCP investment

Comparison with the Nordics

As we saw in the last report, recorded investments in the Nordics have grown steadily quarter over quarter. The dataset behind investments in Iceland, and the timeframe we’re looking at, is too small to plot any real trend, but it’s positive to see the number rising.

Number of investments compared to the Nordics

This quarter, Iceland’s $20.4m accounted for ~4% of deployed capital (total $516.2m) in the Nordics, as per The Nordic Web’s funding report.

Funding sources

Bigger rounds, older companies, higher averages. This all leads up to a (fairly) obvious assumption: The money is coming from outside of Iceland. And, it is. Around 81% of deployed (and disclosed) capital in the quarter is from outside of Iceland.

Funding sources

However, three of the four VC funds were active. Brunnur invested in Oculis Pharma, Frumtak in Datadwell, and NSA Ventures participated in Mint‘s round.

Northstack is mapping the Icelandic startup scene

Since we started Northstack, we’ve tracked and published data on the Icelandic startup and tech scene. In fact, it is one of the reasons we started doing what we’re doing to begin with. The reason is simple: Iceland has long been a black box when it comes to data on startups and tech companies.

That’s why we decided start mapping the Icelandic startup and tech scene. We’re going to collect data from 2012 through 2016 (and hopefully going forward) on startups, funding events, people and organisations. This data will be published on industry databases like Crunchbase, Pitchbook and Dealroom. We want the data to be accessible to investors, reporters, analysts, and researchers.

We’re very lucky to have the backing of leading stakeholders in the Icelandic ecosystem. We’re partnering with Invest in Iceland, Federation of Icelandic Industries, NSA Ventures, Frumtak Ventures, and SA Framtak (Brunnur VC) to make this happen. In addition, we’ll get help with the data from the likes of Icelandic Startups and the Technology Development Fund.

The work will take a couple of months, and we see the value to the ecosystem as follows:

a) We’ll have detailed historical data so we can plot the development of trends and key numbers. This means institutions and the government will finally have data to show, and base their decisions on. Collaborative projects (like the University of Reykjavik/MIT project) will have more accurate data.

b) We’ll be able to more accurately compare Iceland to other ecosystems.

c) The data will be accessible on startup databases. This means Iceland will be more accurately represented in these important places.

d) Northstack will be better equipped to analyse and report on the Icelandic startup scene.

If you have any questions, reach out to Guðbjörg Rist Jónsdóttir who is leading the project. You can reach her at

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene