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Nordic High Growth Entrepreneurship

  • Published 18/06/2013
Nordic Innovation, in cooperation with national partners, is pleased to announce a call for proposals for new or improved Nordic services - strengthening the capabilities of Nordic growth entrepreneurs and improving their access to resources and markets outside their home country.





1. Background

To remain competitive, the Nordic region needs to foster ambitious entrepreneurs able to create innovative and scalable growth companies that are competitive on global markets. Each Nordic country invests heavily in national support for entrepreneurship and innovation. Two recent studies on Nordic entrepreneurship performance – the Nordic Entrepreneurship Monitor (2010) and the Nordic Growth Entrepreneurship Review (2012) – show that there are many startup companies in the Nordic countries, but that just a few of them achieve high growth. Despite overall improvement in entrepreneur framework conditions in the Nordic countries, two areas are still pointed out as sub-optimal for achieving high growth in Nordic companies, namely access to competent financing and entrepreneurial capabilities.


Ambitious entrepreneurs and young growth companies seek risk capital, professional investors and partners with relevant networks and experience, technology- and business guidance, and access to new markets and (pilot) customers. Spread across the Nordics and abroad are entrepreneur service providers, serial entrepreneurs, accelerators, investors and other growth catalysts with valuable experiences and networks that can help Nordic entrepreneurs grow. However, due to fragmentation, it can be difficult for Nordic entrepreneurs to locate and access the best resources matching their needs, especially outside of their own country. Small home markets and similar challenges call for closer Nordic collaboration to build stronger and more interlinked Nordic infrastructure and growth services for young innovative companies. The Nordic countries have different industry strengths that should be much better utilized through cross-border collaboration. Nordic cooperation in markets outside the Nordic region is equally important to get attention through critical mass and effective utilization of Nordic brand value. This can open new doors and growth opportunities for Nordic growth companies. With the Nordic High Growth Entrepreneurship Initiative and call for proposals, Nordic Innovation aims to stimulate cross-border growth ecosystem partnerships that will accelerate growth of Nordic companies by enabling new or better services and easier access to Nordic and international markets.



2. Main objective

The vision of the Nordic High Growth Entrepreneurship Initiative is to stimulate growth entrepreneurship and increase the number of Nordic gazelles and high growth companies. The main objective of the call is to foster new ecosystem collaborations, pilot new tools and services that improve growth capabilities and enable better access to Nordic and international resources and markets for innovative Nordic growth companies.



3. Target groups

The call is targeting new and practically oriented Nordic/Nordic-international collaborations between players of the growth entrepreneurship ecosystems; such as serial entrepreneurs, early-stage investors, business angel syndicates, professional VCs and management companies, corporate VCs, business development companies, accelerators, incubators, industry organizations, international bridge service and export organizations, TTOs and others that provide growth enhancing resources to Nordic entrepreneurs.


The call for proposals is open to consortiums of private and/or public players of the Nordic entrepreneurship ecosystems. To be eligible for funding, a project’s consortium must have at least three different active partners from three Nordic countries.


 A project may also involve relevant international organizations or companies from outside the Nordic region, however their costs of participation will not be covered by the project. National funding organizations/research and innovation agencies cannot apply for funding under this Call for Proposals. Nordic export promotion organizations outside of the Nordic region (sometimes organized under national agencies) may be participants, if relevant to project activities.




4. Scope


We expect the selected projects to contribute to one or more of the themes below.


A more seamless Nordic home market for young Nordic growth companies, for example:

  • Access to talent (board, employees and so on) across borders
  • Access to partners and pilot customers across borders
  • Access to public procurement of innovation across borders
  • Access to competent capital, networks and experience across borders


New or improved cross-border services and approaches for supporting growth of young innovative Nordic companies with a high potential, for example:

  • Growth enhancing collaboration schemes and services
  • Business planning, piloting, launch and facilitation services
  • Services facilitating access to markets and capital networks
  • Services enabling involvement of young innovative Nordic companies in the supply chain of solving industry- or market specific challenges


Improved entrepreneurial capabilities for achieving Nordic and international growth, for example:

  • New or improved training and acceleration programs for Nordic growth entrepreneurs
  • New or improved exchange programs (Nordic or international) for
  • Nordic growth entrepreneurs
  • New arenas or platforms for Nordic entrepreneurs to meet and learn from each other, partners and investors


Improved access to global markets for young innovative Nordic companies, for example:

  • Stronger visibility and attention for young Nordic spearheads in key markets, e.g. through joint Nordic showcasing activities
  • Improved access to investors, business and technology support or
  • strategic partners in global markets
  • Bridge partnerships between Nordic growth catalysts and international connectors


5. Non-eligible costs

  • Direct sales and marketing costs of individual products or services
  • Direct investment or product development costs of individual companies
  • Writing of applications
  • Investment in infrastructure and equipment
  • Costs that have incurred before funding decision of Nordic Innovation Board


6. Application and selection process

The call for proposals will follow a two-phase application process. In the first phase, applicants are asked to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI). This is a short online application form where the applicants describe which need or problem they address, how they will go about solving it, and what will be the lasting results and impacts. Level of partner commitments should be indicated.


The full application requires detailed budget and work commitments of all partners in the projects. Both EoI and full applications are submitted online at


At present NOK 25 million is reserved for financing of projects under this call for proposals. Depending on the quality of the project proposals and other available funding, the financial frame might be increased.




7. Matchmaking event


To receive funding three or more Nordic countries shall be represented in the project. Therefore, to help connecting Nordic players, Nordic Innovation invited to a matchmaking event in Copenhagen on 20 August.

Click to read a summary from the matchmaking event




8. Application deadlines


Phase 1: Expression of Interest (EoI)

10 September 2013 at 10.00 (CET) .
The EoI application portal will open early august.  EoIs will be evaluated by 11 October, and selected EOIs will receive an invitation to submit a full application.





Phase 2: Full application

4 November 2013 at 10.00 (CET).


The Board of Nordic Innovation will make the final project decisions in mid-December. Funding decisions are made on the basis of the information presented in the application. Selected projects will enter into contract with Nordic Innovation and all project participants will be required to sign a cooperation agreement and their respective budget share. Projects can start 1 January 2014 at the earliest. Signed projects will become a part of the Initiative’s project portfolio and take part in various activities, such as kick-off meeting, mid-term seminar and a final conference. The projects will status report annually and submit a final report and audited accounts to Nordic Innovation at the end of the project period.




9. Evaluation


A group of Nordic experts on high-growth entrepreneurship, representing national funding and innovation agencies, will assist Nordic Innovation in the evaluation of EOIs and full applications.


The proposals will be evaluated on the expected new value they generate to the Nordic growth companies during the project and after the project completion. Specific importance is set to the value added of Nordic co-operation. Beyond evaluating the quality of each application, Nordic Innovation will seek to get a good mix of projects that complement each other and become larger than the sum of its parts.


The following will be emphasized in the evaluation of projects:



Criteria that all projects shall meet are:

  • A project’s consortium must have at least three different active partners from three Nordic countries [1]
  • Projects can have a duration of 1,5 to 3 years
  • Each project must clearly demonstrate the Nordic added value of the project (the extra value generated by the Nordic cooperation)
  • Nordic Innovation funding is in the form of a grant. Nordic Innovation rarely funds more than NOK 4 million into one project, however there may be exceptions. Each project can apply for a maximum of 50% funding of the eligible project costs. Applicants must cover remaining funding through self-financing (cash or in kind) and/or through other co-funding sources. Each partner applying for funding under the project is responsible for adhering to state aid rules.
  • National co-funding in the project must be dependent on Nordic Innovation funding

Evaluation of project approach:

  • Ability to meet the call objectives and call-specific criteria
  • Novelty and soundness of the proposal and quality of its objectives
  • Involvement of young innovative growth companies and how these will experience the project
  • Nordic added value: i.e. reduction of duplication of effort between national efforts and the achievement of synergies
  • The commitment of the applicants
  • The competitive advantage of the proposal (why this project and approach)
  • Quality of the project plan and execution
  • Applied amount versus deliverables and expected impact
  • Budget and resource distribution (balance between activities, deliverables and partners)
  • Quality and relevance of the consortium and project management:
    Team composition (complimentary experiences and level of commitment)
  • Relevance of project partners
  • Own contribution/co-funding
  • Level of private sector participation


Evaluation of results and expected impacts:

  • The project’s ability to address real needs for Nordic entrepreneurs to grow
  • Direct impacts for creating or helping gazelles and high growth companies (i.e. improve Nordic companies’ ability to grow, their access to capital, new resources and markets)
  • Ability to build and pilot structures that can give significant lasting effects, scalability and sustainability of concept beyond project period
  • A viable and realistic longer term business or exit plan must be presented (i.e. business model or plan to make the activity sustainable without external public funding)
  • Contribution to the breakdown of cross-border barriers and the development of an integrated Nordic home market for growth entrepreneurs:
  • Introduction of effective cross-border services
  • Transferability of project results to other parts of the ecosystem:

- Best practices created during the project and ability to spread
- Establishment of networks to promote collaboration with, and enhance skills/expertise transfer to, other stakeholders within the Nordic countries
- Creation of opportunities for the project to progress to European and/or international scale activity

  • Networking in itself is not considered an output
  • Single events will not be favored






[1] Very strong arguments must be presented to exempt this rule.