\Finnish startups startups and scaleups to watch in 2021

\Finnish startups startups and scaleups to watch in 2021

Home to one of Europe’s preeminent startup conferences, Slush, Finland has a fast-growing startup ecosystem.

So far this year Finnish startups have raised €1bn from VC funds, more than the €1bn in all of 2020.

But which are the most exciting startups and scaleups? Which are the ones to watch in 2021?

Our team of experts at Sifted have chosen a list of exciting companies we think you need to know about, with an added ‘Sifted take’ on some to provide an extra layer of insight.

It’s a mixture of the big and the small, the well known and the under the radar. But all are making waves. Keep reading below and stay informed about Europe’s new economy!

(P.S The data is from European Startups, with valuation estimates from Dealroom. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong, please let us know by email at [email protected]).

Key

Year founded

Amount raised

Last funding round

Valuation

Employees

Wolt's logo

Wolt

A technology company that makes it incredibly easy to discover and get great food delivered

Helsinki, Finland

748m

€1.9-2.9bn

1000-5000

Sifted Take

The food delivery company raised this year’s biggest funding round for a Finnish company, a $530m round back in January, and the next step is likely to be an IPO.

The scaleup saw its headcount go from 700 at the beginning of 2020 to 2,200 employees at the beginning of 2021. It is now in 23 countries and 129 cities, and saw revenue triple in 2020 to $345m.

“Covid has changed our perspective on how big a business like us can be,” says Miki Kuusi, Wolt’s CEO and cofounder.

Wolt is expanding beyond just food delivery to groceries, electronics, flowers, clothes and more, although it has steered away from building its own “dark stores”, preferring to work with partners, such as Spar in Poland and Carrefour in Georgia.

Volare's logo

Volare

High-quality ingredients for feed, pet food and cosmetics.

Uusimaa, Finland

0.7m

€3-€4m

1-10

Sifted Take

One of the newest arrivals on the Finnish start-up scene, this spinout from the VTT Technical Research Centre is focused on farming black soldier flies to create animal feed, pet food and ingredients for cosmetics. Cofounders Matti Tähtinen and Tuure Parviainen met while working on a black soldier fly farming project at VTT, while COO Jarna Hyvönen has a background in managing circular economy projects. Their idea is to take agricultural waste products and byproducts from breweries and mills and turn them into usable protein, creating a circular economy for these parts of the food industry.

Volare has so far raised a €700k seed round from Maki.vc, allowing them to build a pilot facility for the black soldier fly breeding. They have plans for a first commercial-scale facility to be ready by 2023. The focus is currently on fish feed and pet food, but Volare’s intention is to also produce products for people too, once European regulations allow for black soldier fly-based protein to be used for human consumption. The EU has already ruled certain types of mealworm safe to eat.

Volare’s biggest competitor is Dutch company Protix, which has also focused on farming the black soldier fly. French startup Ynsect, which raised a €304m funding round last year, focuses on mealworms.

Mealworms may be further along the food approval route, but CTO Matti Tähtinen says in the long run black soldier flies are a better proposition for the circular economy as they can be fed a far wider range of foods.

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Yousician's logo

Yousician

Revolutionary platform to learn and play music

Helsinki, Finland

28.7m

€102-€153m

100-500

Sifted Take

Neither Chris Thür nor his co-founder Mikko Kaipainen were musicians or music teachers. They were just two techies who were keen to learn to play musical instruments, and that was the whole point of Yousician — a mobile app that can teach beginners how to play guitar, piano, ukulele, bass or to sing. The company started as a service focused on children’s music lessons but later pivoted to a less age-specific focus.

Users can get one free lesson a day, but can pay for a premium subscription to get more lessons and access to a bigger library of songs. The company has seen strong user growth during the pandemic as many people became interested in taking up an instrument while stuck at home.

Monthly users grew from 14.5m to 20m, while subscriptions increased 80%. The company reported revenue of $50m last year. In April Yousician raised a €24m Series B funding round.

ultimate.ai's logo

ultimate.ai

A platform giving customer service agents the AI-tools they need to provide faster, smarter responses

Helsinki , Finland

25.8m

€73-€109m

50-100

Sifted Take

This four-year-old company has global-sized ambitions to take on the biggest US tech companies like Google, IBM ad Microsoft in the field of AI-powered customer service agents,

The technology focuses specifically on customer service, which can mean anything from building chatbots to systems that can automatically respond to questions sent in via simple contact forms and short emails. It is used in the customer service centres of large companies including Finnair, Telia, Deezer and Elisa. Up to 80% of customer interactions can be automated this way, the company says.

The company raised a $20m Series A round in December, which has allowed them to grow the headcount to more than 100 staff. The next big project is a plan to expand into the US market.

The Upright Project's logo

The Upright Project

Building incentives for companies to optimize their net impact

Helsinki, Finland

0m

-

10-50

Sifted Take

Upright is building a new type of quantification model to calculate the net impact of companies — on the environment, on the health of people and on society as a whole. It uses a neural network to assess the entire value-chain surrounding a business. It is intended as a tool to help investors and consumers to make more informed decisions about the companies they back.

In June Upright signed a partnership with Nasdaq, which will enable investors to get Uprights data easily through the Nasdaq API and combine these with financial data. This is handy for investor building portfolios with impact goals.

Upright has taken a tiny amount of seed funding but mostly finances its operations with revenue from clients. Its ultimate aim is to make enough from the sale of its investor and corporate tools so that it can give the impact data to consumers and employees for free.

Pixieray 's logo

Pixieray

The Perfect Vision Company

Espoo, Finland

4m

€16-€24m

1-10

Sifted Take

Another new startup, only recently out of stealth mode, Pixieray is making “active” glasses that sense what the user is looking at and adjusts to give the perfect focus at all times. The principle is similar to the way a mobile phone camera automatically adjusts to the focal point of the shot, and it would mean an end to people having to use varifocal lenses or switching glasses between different activities.

Other companies have tried and failed at the “active glasses” challenge in the past, but CEO Niko Eiden and CTO Klaus Meklari come from Varjo, the VR glasses company and have a strong background in eyewear like this. One of the biggest challenges has been getting the technology and the batteries small enough to fit into the frame of a normal-sized pair of glasses, but miniaturisation is now reaching the point at which this is becoming possible.

The company so far has just a prototype but expects to start shipping a commercial product in 2023. Pixieray raised a €3.74m seed round from investors including Maki.vc in June.

Oura Health's logo

Oura Health

An award-winning wellness ring and app, designed to help you get more restful sleep and perform better

Oulu, Finland

140m

€364-€545m

100-500

Sifted Take

The health-tracking ring has had a blisteringly good marketing run, having won over a number of celebrity fans such as Prince Harry, cyclist Lance Armstrong and Hollywood A-lister Will Smith. It got an added boost after studies showed that the ring, which tracks biometrics like body temperature, pulse and sleep patterns, could predict the onset of Covid-19 symptoms up to three days before they showed up.

This has helped the company win big corporate clients, such as the Las Vegas Sands hotel, as well as NASCAR and Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Oura has raised a total of €140m to date, including a €85m Series C round in May.

IQM's logo

IQM

Builds quantum computers

Espoo, Finland

67.5m

€156-€234m

50-100

Sifted Take

A spin-out from Aalto University and the VTT Technical Research Centre, IQM is building quantum computers based on superconducting technology, setting itself up as a European challenger to Google, IBM and Rigetti. IQM is building Finland’s first quantum computer, together with VTT, which will be operational by the end of the year. This will have just 5 qubits, far lower than the 60-70 qubit machines that Google and IBM have assembled, but IQM has plans for a 20 qubit computer by the end of next year and a 50 qubit computer by the end of 2023.

IQM has operations in Germany and recently announced the opening of a lab in Bilbao, which will focus on designing quantum software and hardware specifically to solve problems for the financial services sector. The company one of the biggest quantum computing teams in Europe, with 50 people in Finland and a further 20 in Europe.

IQM has raised some €71m in funding to date, including a €39m Series A round at the end of 2020.

Glue's logo

Glue

A universal collaboration platform for virtual, face-to-face like collaboration for organizations and teams working around the world

Helsinki, Finland

3.5m

€14-€21m

10-50

Sifted Take

The company began as an award-winning XR and gaming studio 17 years ago, but morphed into Glue in 2017, focusing on building VR remote collaboration tools for businesses.

Up to 30 people wearing VR headsets can work together in a virtual collaboration space, appearing as head-and-arms avatars and able to work together on documents, share presentations and videos as well as breaking out into smaller groups.

The company raised a €3.5m seed round in 2019 and hasn’t raised since, but it is now starting to have genuine paying customers. Some 100-150 big corporations, including Deutsche Telecom and Axel Springer, are using the system, although many of these relationships are still at a pilot stage.

It is being used by 100-150 or so paying customers like Deutsche Telecom and Axel Springer, mostly at the pilot phase.

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Flowhaven's logo

Flowhaven

Flowhaven - The Most Intuitive Brand Licensing Software

Espoo, Finland

19.3m

€58-€87m

50-100

Sifted Take

Flowhaven aims to streamline the way media companies and companies manage their licencing partnerships. This is a huge market but it is still largely done manually through emails and clunky spreadsheets.

It was a problem that Flowhave founder and CEO Kalle Törmä experienced first hand when he worked on licencing at Rovio, the Finnish company behind the Angry Birds game. Törmä left his job at Rovio to create a solution.

Flowrite now has more than 100 customers using its system, including names like Nintendo and Games Workshop. The company raised a $16m Series A funding round in January and at the time reported 400% year-on-year growth. It is aiming to increase headcount to close to 100 by the end of the year.

Fiksu Ruoka Oy's logo

Fiksu Ruoka Oy

Challenges traditional grocery market by selling surplus batches of food with large discounts in web store

Espoo, Finland

21m

€76-144m

10-50

Sifted Take

This five-year-old food waste startup has seen its revenues grow threefold during the pandemic, from €3.7m to €12m, as consumers embraced the internet ordering of food. The startup — whose name translates as “smart food” — sells food that is close to its sell-by date and about to become food waste, offering them to customers at heavily discounted prices. Unlike some of the food waste startups that rely on customers going to pick up waste food from restaurants and shops, Fiksu Ruoka offers home delivery.

In addition to food Fiksu has also started stocking homewares and clothing, The business raised a €19m VC round in May.

Infinited Fiber Company's logo

Infinited Fiber Company

IFC’s technology enables manufacturing of cotton-like new fiber from mixed post-consumer textile waste. Process can also be fed with other cellulose-based materials like cardboard or agricultural waste.

Espoo, Finland

35.2m

€109-€164m

10-50

Sifted Take

Circular economy startup Infinited Fibre takes waste materials such as old textiles, used cardboard, and even crop residues like rice and wheat straw, and uses a patented process to turn them into a textile fibre with a similar feel to cotton. In technical terms the fibre is cellulose carbamate.

A number of fashion brands, including H&M, Patagonia and Adidas are customers, and in July a number of these customers, notably Adidas, Bestseller and H&M chipped into a €30m funding round for the startup.

This funding will help build a flagship factory in Finland that will turn household textile waste into a new, regenerated textile fibre, Infinna. The factory is expected to be operational in 2024 and will have the capacity to produce 30,000 metric tonnes of fibre.

Infinite Fibre is also looking to licence the technology to other producers — it says any existing pulp or viscose factory can be retrofitted to produce the fibre.

Solar Foods Oy's logo

Solar Foods Oy

Uses renewable electricity, water and air to produce natural protein

Helsinki, Finland

35.1m

€75m

10-50

Sifted Take

Finnish tech startup Solar Foods is producing food made largely out of water, electricity and air.

Solar Foods uses electricity to split water cells to produce hydrogen. It then adds carbon dioxide and nutrients such as potassium, sodium, and phosphorus, and feeds this into microbes derived from the soil to produce food.

The process results in cells that are 50% protein, with the rest carbohydrate and fat. The idea, while still being trialled, is that it will create a food source that is not dependent on weather, irrigation or soil.

The company, founded by Juha-Pekka Pitkänen and Pasi Vainikka has teamed up with the European Space Agency to develop a system for producing proteins for space flights to Mars.

While it still a very early stage company, this could be the future of food.

Relex Solutions's logo

Relex Solutions

Supply chain management and predictive analytics software provider

Helsinki, Finland

203.23m

€409m

500-1000

Aiven's logo

Aiven

Aiven - Your Database in the Cloud

Helsinki, Finland

136m

€364-€545m

100-500

Sifted Take

Founded in 2016, Aiven manages companies’ open source data infrastructure in the cloud, so that developers can focus on building applications without worrying about managing background tasks like security and maintenance. The company has some 1000 customers, including big corporations like Comcast and Toyota, and has a workforce of around 200 people.

The company raised a $100m Series C funding round in March, giving it a valuation of around $800m and making it one of Finland's “soonicorns”. Aiven says it is planning to double its headcount over the next 12 months.

Aiforia Technologies 's logo

Aiforia Technologies

Aiforia Tech is developing intelligent, cloud-based deep learning image analysis solutions for digital pathology

Helsinki, Finland

33.6m

€101-€151m

10-50

Sifted Take

Aiforia is developing cloud-based deep learning software to help scientists and clinicians with image analysis. The technology can increase the speed and precision with which medical images can be analysed in fields ranging from oncology to neuroscience. The company is planning, for example, to launch tools for breast and lung cancer diagnosis later this year.

Aiforia has some 3,000 users in 50 countries and raised a €25.2M in Series B funding round in June.

ICEYE's logo

ICEYE

Develops micro-satellites used to capture images from the space

Espoo, Finland

123m

€296-€444m

100-500

Kodit.io's logo

Kodit.io

An AI-powered residential real estate data platform

Helsinki, Finland

114m

€48-€72m

50-100

AlphaSense's logo

AlphaSense

Semantic financial search engine for investment professionals

New York, United States

78.77m

€182-€273m

100-500

Whim's logo

Whim

A hassle-free and environmentally sound alternative to private car ownership

Helsinki, Finland

54.9m

€118-€177m

50-100

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