Relationships are essential for open innovation. When looking for new technologies, personal connections with universities, startup havens or incubators can give your firm a competitive edge.
But what happens when, as a technology scout, you need to branch out and build new relationships? When the innovations your firm needs to be competitive are being developed outside of your network – and maybe even by people who live thousands of miles away?
Online platforms like LinkedIn and seed are great tools for tech scouts who need to grow their networks, including those in other countries. One region where your firm should consider looking for new partners? Scandinavia.
Scandinavia: A Burgeoning Startup Scene
Some leading technology companies with ample resources are already looking to Scandinavian startups and universities for partnerships. For example, Facebook recently acquired the Swedish AI company Ozlo.
Meanwhile, venture capital firms are expanding their activity in the region. The venture firm byFounders recently announced its 100 million euro fund focused on Nordic founders. Northzone also focuses on Scandinavian startups.
The different countries in the region all put their own twist on startup culture. Copenhagen has been making headlines recently for its startup scene. Denmark boasts over 400 technology companies, and breakout companies like Zendesk and Skype got started there.
Observers note that early-stage capital is starting to become more accessible in Denmark; in the past, many companies have chosen to leave the country in pursuit of funding in the United States and elsewhere. The oft-used hashtag #CPHFTW (Copenhagen for the Win) reflects the enthusiasm about startup life in this futuristic city.
Nearby, Sweden’s largest technology startups haven, Stockholm, is also faring well. A recent WIRED UK article profiles some notable startups based in the region, such as Detectify (cybersecurity) and Watty (smart home/energy). The concentration of startups in Sweden is higher than in the United States, at a whopping 20 startups per 1,000 employees (versus 5:1,000 in the US).
Smaller countries like Norway and even Iceland also have startup communities, which have the benefit of being intimate and “tight-knit” compared to larger countries’ ecosystems. Icelandic Startups is a center for startup activity in the small capital city of Reykjavik – and you can even split your day between networking and the nearby Blue Lagoon.
Approaching Scandinavian Startups and Universities
How can corporate tech scouts start to build relationships with Scandinavian startups and universities?
One key way could be to speak with venture capital firms that already have established networks in the region. The venture firm byFounders recently announced a 100 million euro fund focused on Nordic founders. Northzone is another such VC.
There are also growing in-person events that showcase the region’s startups and spinoffs. The amusingly-named Slush in Helsinki, Techstars Stockholm events, and Ignite’s corporate-startup matchmaking sessions are a good place to start.
For busy open innovation teams, an in-person trip to Scandinavia may not be a smart use of resources. That’s why we allow high quality, research-based startups from all around the world to share their collaboration goals with our technology scout subscribers on .
There are thousands startup havens, incubators and universities worldwide which may have the solution your firm is seeking. Scandinavian firms should be on your list. #OpenInnovationFTW.
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