Atomico has been following the Finnish tech scene for a long time, which has led to some of Atomico’s most successful partnerships. One of the ways Atomico discovers new and innovative companies is through its Angel Programme, which was created to activate a new generation of angel investors in Europe.
Atomico is an international venture capital company which invests mostly at Series A. With this timing, Atomico believes it can make the most impact in supporting founding teams on their journey.
“We have the largest ‘growth acceleration team’ of any firm in Europe. This team is made up of ex-operators at companies from Google to Twitter who know exactly what it’s like to scale some of the world’s biggest tech companies. They work closely with our portfolio companies on everything from talent to communications to strategy”, explains Sophia Bendz, Partner at Atomico.
“Some of our most successful partnerships, such as Supercell and Rovio, have been from Finland. Many members of our team attend Slush every year, and this has been a great opportunity for us to meet Finnish founders. Slush is definitely my favorite tech event of the year, and very important to the Nordic ecosystem”, Bendz says.
Deeptech investment in Finland grows rapidly
Finland and all of Europe have especially long traditions in science and academic research, but this has not always mixed well with commercial applications of innovation. However, Atomico has witnessed substantial strengthening in the entrepreneurial scene.
“We’re seeing a change in the mindset of academia in Europe; entrepreneurial careers are now an accepted alternative to academia among PhDs and graduates. More and more companies are being created out of research. There were 335 deals involving university spinoffs in Europe in 2019, up from 179 in 2015”, Bendz notes.
One leading area for Finnish innovation is deeptech. Deeptech startup companies aim to solve major global challenges through substantial scientific advances and high-tech innovations.
“Two Nordic countries, Sweden and Finland, were in the top 10 countries for deeptech investment in 2019. Funding in Finland in particular jumped in 2019 – from 2014–2018, Finland ranked 8th for deeptech funding in Europe, and in 2019 it jumped to 5th. Finland has one of the highest densities of researchers and professional developers of any country in Europe, which is a key combination for supporting the development of a deeptech industry”, Bendz says.
Atomico Angel Programme activates investors and discovers ambitious founders
In 2018, Atomico launched a new initiative called the Atomico Angel Programme. The programme was created to help activate a new generation of angel investors who, in turn, are well placed to discover the most innovative and ambitious founders at the very start of their journey.
“We give a group of operators, founders and other members of the ecosystem 100,000 dollars each to invest over a period of one year. The goal is to form new clusters of European talent via this Angel network including, in time, tech clusters that have been underrepresented in the past”, Bendz explains.
The first Atomico Angel Programme cohort has just finished, and the company has already chosen its second cohort. The results so far have been very encouraging.
“We are very proud of the achievements of the first cohort. They made a total of 35 investments in eight countries. 15 of those investments were into companies with an impact mission, and 13 of those investments were into companies with a female counter or a female co-founder”, Bendz says.
What it is: An international fund manager that partners with ambitious tech founders at Series A and beyond. Founded by CEO Niklas Zennström in 2006. A team of over 60 people in 4 continents, headquarters in London.
Funds: Has invested in more than 130 companes via four funds. Atomico IV closed in 2017 at 720 M euros. Partnerships include SuperCell, Rovio, Varjo and Klarna.
Publication: The State of European Tech: 2019.stateofeuropeantech.com
Who she is: A partner at Atomico focusing on Nordic sourcing activities. She runs Atomico’s Angel Programme and is particularly interested in the femtech space. An active player in Stockholm’s startup scene.
Education: Stockholm University, Magister, Economics at the International Business Academy
Work experience: Sophia was the Global Marketing Director at Spotify 2007-2014.