Whew – what a year it’s been! Between the challenging economic environment, the tragic and unjust war in Ukraine and the following energy crisis, and adapting to the somewhat post-covid world, it’s been a busy year. On the bright side, the year featured 6 new portfolio companies, a lot of new team members, and getting back in touch with the deep tech community through in-person events (finally!).
In 2022, we’ve grown into a truly Nordic fund, opening office and recruiting team members in Sweden. The year has been characterized by emerging disruptive technologies in energy storage solutions, bio based materials, quantum and predictive diagnosis in healthcare. Beyond exploring new tech, we’ve focused on bringing value and achieving change through our events and portfolio operations, while leveraging our network to help our founders navigate the tough times ahead.
The team keeps growing as the world keeps changing
We don’t need to tell you that it’s been a rough year. As cliché-y as it sounds, it’s also been a year filled with learnings, new opportunities, and empathy. As a recession looms on the horizon, the startup community has come together to help each other navigate the tough times ahead. For us, the year also opened up for new opportunities – and as the world keeps changing, we keep growing.
To strengthen our foothold specifically in the Swedish startup community, we’ve expanded our Swedish operations and recruited a stellar Swedish team. In April, Jenny Engerfelt (formerly Almi Invest) started heading up our Swedish operations, and she’s supported by Venture Advisor Malin Carlstrom (formerly ABB, now GP of Climentum Capital). Having a team located in Stockholm has not only helped in making our first Swedish investment, but also brought us closer to the Swedish tech community. During the year we’ve traveled across Sweden – from Umeå in the North to Malmö in the south – to meet with scientists, startups and investors. The Swedish deep tech scene is constantly growing, and we’re excited to keep building the deep tech ecosystem not only in Finland and Sweden, but all over the Nordics.
Back in Helsinki, our team has changed up a bit as well. Early in the year, Sofia Wahlroos (formerly Inventure) joined us to head up Marketing and PR, and in the fall, our investment team expanded as Anna Pölönen joined us as a VC Trainee.
The Voima Ventures team playing a light-hearted Finnkampen at the summer party.
Quantum made its way to our portfolio – and it’s in good company
Despite some very real challenges, it’s been a great year for our portfolio. We invested in 6 new companies – which is double the investments we did in 2021! We kicked off the year with a deep dive into quantum, investing in quantum qubit tuning company QuantrolOx, and hybrid quantum platform company Quantagonia. Since the companies are solving very different areas of quantum computing, they form a perfect unit in line with long-term quantum goals.
In the same vein of very intriguing emerging technology, we led a round into Finnish-Norwegian robotics startup thtRobotics. Utilizing their adaptive robotics gripper and top-shelf AI, the company has created a revolutionizing solution for the food packaging industry. The kicker? Their robotic gripper – unlike current state-of-the-art robots – is capable of handling soft things with a human-like touch that can truly disrupt the emerging food tech market.
On the healthtech side, we’ve joined forces with NADMED and Nucu. A University of Helsinki spinout based on Anu Wartiovaaras’s research, NADMED is the first accurate and fast test kit for measuring NAD-levels at home. For the uninitiated, NAD metabolites impact our entire life, and lowered NAD levels can be an indication of an array of diseases. From further north, Oulu-based Nucu aims to help babies and families sleep better through their multisensory baby pad. With a team consisting of Oura-veterans, the company will surely elevate the baby tech industry in Finland and throughout the world.
In August of 2022, we also made our first ever investment into Sweden! Green transformation startup Cellfion is bringing us one step closer to solving the energy crisis via bio-based membranes. The team, led by Forbes 30-under-30 nominee Liam Hardey, has already received recognition for their work towards a greener energy economy.
Liam Hardey (on the left) introducing Cellfion during our Swedish launch of Voima Ventures.
In general, our portfolio companies have had a stellar year. We’re especially proud to report that all 3 Finnish companies selected for EIC accelerator grants are Voima Ventures portfolio companies! The EIC Accelerator grants funding for scaling up game-changing innovations, and Quanturi, Paptic and QuantrolOx were the only Finnish companies to receive this prestigious grant.
This year’s portfolio company funding rounds also brought on some new exciting co-investors. Adamant Health scored an investment from German pharma giant Gerresheimer, whereas Samsung Ventures led ElFys’ latest funding round.
Beyond funding rounds, many of our companies took other big leaps ahead this year. The biggest news by far this year was the incredible 100 million commercial deal Infinited Fiber Company signed with global fashion group Inditex, parent company of Zara, Masssimo Dutti and Stradivarius. Additionally, both eniferBio and Solar Foods keep battling food scarcity, as eniferBio partnered up with Finnish food giant Valio to bring Pekilo to our plates, whereas Solar Foods received novel food regulatory approval for a protein grown with CO2 and electricity.
The community keeps delivering
Looking back on the highlights of the year, most of our memorable moments are strongly connected to the growing Nordic deep tech community.
One of the most memorable moments of the year was when our Managing Partner Inka Mero received one of the biggest honors in the field, as she was awarded FVCA:s “Venture Capitalist of the Year”. In her thank you speech, Inka highlighted the importance of working together towards a better future for the people, the planet, and the industry. On behalf of Inka and the Voima Ventures team, we’d once again like to thank FVCA and the entire startup community for the prestigious recognition.
Inka receiving the award at FVCA:s autumn seminar.
As we keep pushing for more gender diversity in the deep tech scene, the community keeps delivering. In the search for great women and non-male board members for our portfolio companies, the community provided us with immense support and outstanding recommendations. The efforts culminated in the second-ever Women to Boards event, where we connected non-male experts from the ecosystem with our portfolio companies. For more insights into the project, we recommend reading Soile Kankaanpää’s guest blog – as she herself received a spot on the board of Betolar after last year’s Women to Boards.
Together with dear friends, we had the chance to get together with the fantastic deep tech community at Slush 2022. In collaboration with Lifeline Ventures, Nordic FoodTech VC, Navigare Ventures, Spintop Ventures and VTT LaunchPad, we once again hosted Deep Tech Drinks on Day 1 of Slush. This year, we were joined by close to 300 deep tech investors and startups. While the idea of the event has always been a relaxed gathering among friends, it’s also an excellent way to stay on top of the trends and get the pulse of the community. Similarly, there’s no better place to dive into the newest quantum technologies than at our Quantum Ecosystem Dinner. We’re thankful to have gotten the chance to learn and catch up in great company this Slush!
What would Slush be without great company – and great food? Vibes from the 2022 edition of Deep Tech Drinks.
As the year end is fast approaching, it’s a perfect time to look back on a good year, and hope for an even better new year! This year, we want to direct a special thank you to the community – you remain our biggest inspiration.
Wishing everyone happy holidays & a great new year,
The Voima Ventures team