In the realm of European startup ecosystems, Sweden — largely Stockholm — ranks very close to the behemoths of London, Paris and Berlin. And with 10 million people, the nation certainly punches above its weight, having produced unicorns such as Spotify and Klarna, to name only two.
As a result, the eight investors we surveyed are characteristically bullish about the future, despite a pandemic strategy that became more restrictive in the second half of last year.
Sweden’s initially laissez-faire approach to controlling COVID-19 might have helped its tech ecosystem ride out the uncertainty. “Sweden is more open and is ahead of the pandemic curve, so more people are coming here than the other way around,” said Jacob Key, founding partner with Luminar Ventures.
Several people we spoke to said they saw green shoots regarding revenue growth and retention in their portfolio companies as founders adapted to the pandemic. Areas that are benefitting include digital health and remote work for obvious reasons, but given Sweden’s strength in fintech and gaming, those sectors are both well positioned to thrive.
As consumers become more desirous of sustainability, responsible shopping, green travel and plant-based food alternatives “will likely contribute to a surge in companies in this space,” said Sofia Dolfe of Index Ventures.
Oversaturated areas are media/adtech and wellness/fitness apps.
Some of the trends these investors are excited about include deep tech, AI, machine learning, healthcare/medtech, industrial IoT, energy storage and energy-efficient power generation, robotics, intelligent production and additive manufacturing.
“I think there is a lot of interesting stuff coming out of Stockholm and accelerating with all recent success stories,” said VNV Global’s Bjorn von Sivers.
Here’s who we spoke to:
- Jacob Key, founding partner, Luminar Ventures
- Bjorn von Sivers, partner, VNV Global
- Ashley Lundström, partner, EQT Ventures
- Ted Persson, partner, EQT Ventures
- Sofia Dolfe, principal, Index Ventures
- Staffan Helgesson, partner, Creandum
- Tanya Horowitz, partner, Butterfly Ventures
- Sanna Westman, principal, Creandum