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The Nordic Scaling Advisory Board is here to support Nordic scale-ups

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  • Published 15/05/2017
Nordic Innovation has put together an advisory board to help Nordic scale-ups achieve their full potential by supporting them through their growing pains.

In the last years, there has been a focus on how to help and nurture startups in the Nordics. This has made the Nordic region one of the best in the world when it comes to starting and developing new companies. Even though the Nordic countries are above OECD average to start new companies, the challenge is that they seldom grow to scale. Therefore, the Nordic startup companies are not reaching their full potential and many of the growth opportunities are lost. 


The Nordic countries lag the leading countries in the extent to which they scale-up, with research suggesting that many of the companies have stagnant growth despite their best aspirations. Research has also shown that fewer than three per cent of start-ups both survive for a decade and enjoy a single year of high growth. 


One of the differences compared to the leading ecosystems is the size. Combined, the Nordic countries are big enough to produce quality scale-ups with the desired opportunities for growth. This is exactly what Nordic Innovation wants to tap into.



The Nordic Scaling Advisory Board

Nordic Innovation has put together a high-level Advisory Board to help to reach that goal. The Advisory Board consist of high-level representatives of public sector actors responsible for the Nordic internationalization or scaling programmes and policies in their own countries, complemented with prominent private sector figures (serial entrepreneurs, Nordic VCs, other influencers).  The Advisory Board will help to develop Nordic innovation policies and framework conditions to support scale-up companies, and to increase the number of such companies.


According to Marie Wall, Startup Director at the Ministry of Enterprise in Sweden and a member at the Nordic Scaling Advisory Board, startups’ full contribution to the long term economic growth in society, job creation, export and productivity can only be fulfilled if they manage to take the leap from a small startup to a growing scale-up. And vice-versa. Also scale-ups contribute to the startup ecosystem with management competences, talent and capital attraction and providing an exit market.



The following stakeholders have come together to support Nordic scale-ups:


Davið Helgason, Founder and Board Member, Unity Technologies, Nordic Makers


Nicolai Hellmann, Chief Advisor, Danish Business Authority


Marjo Ilmari, Director, Startup companies, Tekes


Lars Jörnow, Founding Partner, EQT Ventures


Adam Kostyál, Senior Vice President, Global Listing Services, Nasdaq 


Erling Maartmann-Moe, Partner, Alliance Ventures


Huld Magnúsdóttir, CEO, NSA Ventures


Lars-Michaël Paqvalén, Serial entrepreneur


Pål Thorvik Næss, Director of Entrepreneurs and Startups, Innovation Norway


Marie Wall, Deputy Director, Startup Director, Ministry of Enterprise

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What is a scale-up?


The term 'scale-up' refers to a small group of rapidly expanding companies which account for an above-average proportion of the economic growth. They are usually defined as being enterprises with average annual growth in employees or turnover of more than 20 % per year over a 3-year period, with more than 10 employees.


Scale-ups are not startups. According to UK Scale-up Institute they are companies growing from 10 to 5000 employees and beyond, having specific requirements for management, skills, capital and organizational processes.


Scale-ups are vital to driving job and overall economic growth:

  • Job creation: rapidly growing firms are significant contributors to job creation
  • National output: a small group of scale-up companies account for a significant proportion of growth in national output
  • The quality of jobs: there is evidence to show that scale-up companies help create high quality jobs with more satisfied employees
  • Dynamic effect on local ecosystems: scale-ups act as role models and inspire other companies. They have particularly dynamic effect when clustered together (e.g. attracting and developing talented people and building networks with the local ecosystem)

(Source: The Scale-up report by Sherry Coutu CBE, November 2014)