2021: The year of breaking records

2021 was the strongest year for VC investment on record, in terms of both total deal value and the number of VC deals seen globally. The robust VC investment climate was highlighted in part by record setting investment levels in numerous jurisdictions, including the Nordic region.

Corporate VC investment also reached a new high during the quarter — more than a third higher than the previous record set in 2018. The expanding breadth of VC investors, including an increasing number of nontraditional investors, globally propelled fundraising near-record levels. On the other end of the deal life cycle, both the number of exits and total exit value also broke records — with the latter almost three times the previous high.

Europe sees all-time records set in 2021

Venture capital (VC) investment in Europe was incredibly strong throughout 2021, propelled by record-levels of investment in many individual jurisdictions, including the Nordic region. A robust funding environment, increasing valuations, and a growing number of unicorns highlighted a perfect storm of opportunities for VC investors in Europe. The increasing number of unicorn births in Europe during 2021 highlights the growing maturity of the European VC ecosystem. Q4’21 saw 17 new unicorn companies in Europe, representing seven countries (i.e. Sweden, and Finland). 

Nordics region gaining attention from international investors

The VC market ecosystem in the Nordics region evolved considerably over the last year, with a growing number of companies raising larger rounds and beginning to consider IPO plans. Despite a drop in total VC investment in Q4’21, VC investment for the year was well above the previous record high. The region continued to grow on the radar of international investors, helped in Q4’21 by Helsinki hosting Slush — a successful conference focused on connecting companies with VC and other investors.

The market is very hot in the Nordic region, with a lot of interest coming in from international investors. It seems like every quarter we see at least one major megaround and then a lot of mid-sized funding rounds. It’s this combination that is driving the continuous turn of new deals and larger deals will help the ecosystem to grow when part of that money is flowing back to early-stage funds and companies after exits or late-stage secondary transactions.

Jussi Paski
Head of Startup Services
KPMG Finland