The Nordic region had an outstanding year for venture capital in 2021, with record investment levels and strong fundraising numbers.

An uptick in late-stage funding, rising nontraditional and foreign investor participation, and outsize rounds helped drive the increased activity in the region, which encompasses Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

Here's an in-depth look at five charts from our latest Nordic Private Capital Breakdown, highlighting the key trends that defined the region's VC ecosystem last year.

1. Capital invested more than doubles previous record

Venture investors poured €11.9 billion (around $13 billion) into Nordic startups in 2021, an increase of 109% over its previous record, set in 2020. Deal value is expected to continue on an upward trajectory, as nontraditional and foreign investors seek out new markets for their money.

2. Late stage takes lion's share of VC money

Much of the region's growth in capital was driven by a surfeit of late-stage rounds, which represented 82% of the overall VC deal value. The Nordics are now home to some of Europe's most valuable startups—such as Klarna and Northvolt, worth $45.6 billion and $11.75 billion, respectively—and the region's reputation as a VC hotspot has grown significantly in the past few years.

3. Sweden retains top spot for dealmaking, but others flourish

Sweden has historically dwarfed its neighbors in terms of VC deal activity, and while its €6.7 billion raised still represents the majority of the region's total capital in 2021, other countries are catching up. Deal value tripled to €2.1 billion in Denmark, reached a record €1.6 billion in Finland, and crossed the €1 billion mark for the first time in Norway. Notable deals included Finnish food delivery startup Wolt's $530 million fundraise and fintech startup Pleo's $350 million Series C. 

4. Exit value falls short of records

The number of VC-backed exits in the Nordics reached a new high in 2021, but the €8.9 billion in total exit value fell far short of the region's previous best, set in 2018. Acquisitions accounted for the majority of exits, but public listings were a resurgent strategy with 70 listings accounting for €4.7 billion in aggregate exit value—more than quadruple 2020's total.

5. Nordic region sees solid year for VC fundraising

While the Nordics have not traditionally been known as a fundraising hotspot, momentum is gathering in the region, with the two largest annual venture fundraising figures being recorded in the past three years. A total of €1.7 billion was raised in 2021 across 25 vehicles—the second-highest annual totals for both value and volume.

Related read: 2022 Nordic Private Capital Breakdown

Featured image shows flags, from left, of Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Åland and Finland (Westend61/Getty Images)

Related content