December 8, 2022

Finnish unicorn RELEX’s founders launch €100m charitable foundation

RELEX's cofounders and first employee have put €10m in cash and €100m in RELEX stock into the endeavor. 

Freya Pratty

2 min read

Relex cofounder Johanna Småros.

The team behind Finnish unicorn RELEX Solutions, which runs a supply chain optimisation platform, is launching a new €100m foundation to donate to groups fighting climate change and working to reduce inequality. 

The RELEX Foundation was launched by RELEX's three cofounders, along with its first employee. They’ve put €10m in cash and €100m in RELEX stock into the endeavor. 

The company was valued at €5bn earlier this year after a €500m raise led by Blackstone — the largest round ever in Finland. It has raised a total of $784m and employs 1,304 people, according to Dealroom. 


European tech philanthropy

The foundation is one of the first examples of private European tech companies funnelling profits into charitable causes — something more often seen in the US, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation being the most famous example. 

There are, however, examples of significant philanthropy by individuals in European tech, such as Northzone’s Pär-Jörgen Pärson and wife Annika Sten Pärson dedicating €100m to mental health, diversity and inclusion, and Skype cofounder Niklas Zennström and his wife Catherine’s Zennström Philanthropies.

What the foundation's backing

RELEX's foundation will back “organisations and initiatives battling the world’s biggest problems.” That includes, the company says, charities, not-for-profits, foundations and research organisations. 

Between 2023 and 2025, donations will focus on mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as reducing inequality and poverty and reducing the marginalisation of certain groups of young people.

“It’s important for us to reinvest RELEX's success into causes that accelerate positive impact in the world,” says Marko Nikula, the first employee of the company, who is now chairman of the board at the RELEX Foundation. 

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The foundation’s income is tied to the success of RELEX, but the team reiterate that it’ll act as an independent entity. 

RELEX was founded in 2005 and runs a cloud-based platform aimed at helping retailers reduce waste, costs and manual work throughout their supply chains.

Freya Pratty is a reporter at Sifted. She tweets from @FPratty and writes our climate tech newsletter you can sign up here. 

The headline has been updated to reflect the fact that it is RELEX's founders and first employee who have started the foundation, and not the company itself.

Freya Pratty

Freya Pratty is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers climate tech, writes our weekly climate tech newsletter and works on investigations. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn