VC funding in Denmark hits record with healthcare in focus

By Juliana Wheeler - February 20, 2024
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Copenhagen’s healthcare startup craze is driving growth in venture capital investment (John Anes, via Creative Commons)

Venture capital investors put $1.4 billion into early stage companies in Denmark in 2023, an increase over the previous year and a positive outlier amid a fall in early stage investment in other European and global markets.

The 2% year-over-year increase in Danish early stage funding was driven by record investments into health tech startups in biotech, pharma and health platforms, according to Dealroom. Danish health tech startups raised a record $835 million in 56 funding rounds in 2023, up 11% on the previous record set in 2021.

The increase in Danish startup fundings followed a year when early stage funding dropped significantly. In 2022, VC funding for Danish companies declined 60%. That fall was greater than the average decline in Nordic markets of 38%, though it followed the previous record year for early stage funding.

Denmark has emerged as a hub of health tech startups because of its supportive ecosystem including startup companies, investors and incubators; a mature healthcare market in which $5,203 per capita is spent on medical care, more than the average for developed countries of $4,527 (source: World Health Organization); global leadership for healthcare digitization; strong public sector support; world class universities and a skilled workforce. 

Danish healthcare startups that raised VC funding in 2023 include:

According to danishstartups.dk, an online platform for startups, Denmark is a natural home for health tech companies: “Based on a long tradition of public welfare, the Danish health system prides itself on providing free and equal access to health care for all citizens. Denmark is also known for its leading life sciences industry, with numerous global pharmaceutical companies originating here. This, together with our high digital maturity and unique citizen health data, makes Denmark an ideal environment for health tech startups.”

Corti Raises $60M in Series B Funding to Accelerate Healthcare AI Innovation and Expand Work in Public Safety
Corti raised $60M in series b funding last September (Corti LinkedIn).

Denmark is a natural home to other industries, too. For example, Kost Capital is a new EUR25 million venture capital fund launched in January 2024 by Danish entrepreneurs to invest in food tech start-up companies. It aims to fund food tech in Denmark and turn it into the country’s next multi-billion dollar industry.

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Kost Capital invests in food tech (Kost Capital LinkedIn).

Kost Capital has already made its first investments in a palm oil replacement company, Äio, an infant formula company, Numi, and a Danish ingredient company, Nutrumami. 

Kost Capital’s funding is from EIFO, the Danish government’s venture fund. Kost Capital works closely with Kost Studio, a food development studio, to bridge the gap between universities and markets and to fund innovative food tech businesses.

Other industries attracting early stage funding in Denmark include artificial intelligence, environmental sustainability and fintech. Technology start-ups in Denmark that have had global success include Just Eat, the food delivery platform; Trustpilot, the customer review website; Tradeshift, which connects large companies and their suppliers; Sitecore, a marketing and website content management system, and others.

Trustpilot | Careers
Among the more successful startup stories in Denmark is the review company Trustpilot

Future unicorns across different industries are expected to include ViaBill, an online bill payment platform; Veo, an AI-powered camera to record and replay sporting matches; Labster, which makes virtual labs for STEM students; and Podimo, a podcast and audio book provider.

The Danish government supports start-ups, which is similar to other Nordic countries. Innovation Fund Denmark, a government-funded grant-giving organization, funds research and innovation that solves challenges in society and creates value for Denmark. It has DKK7.1 billion ($1 billion) in active investments, nearly 2,000 active projects and received about 3,000 applications in 2022. 

In 2024, Innovation Fund Denmark plans to invest DKK1.7 billion ($247.6 million) in green solutions, technology, life sciences, health and artificial intelligence. The fund doesn’t have an investment returns target, but evaluates its results by improvements in social welfare, increased societal wealth, jobs, reduction of CO2 emissions, cleaner environment and other issues that are important to Danish society.

AArhus
Innovation Fund Denmark’s headquarters in Aarhus. (innovationsfonden.dk)

VF Venture, a government-funded seed investor, participated in more than 20 funding rounds in 2022. Its notable investments included Green Hydrogen Systems, Universal Robots (exited), Corti, Agreena, Blue World Technologies, OnRobot, Monta, Evosep, Synklino, Nuevolution (exited).

Other Danish investors include:

  • Accelerace, founded in 2008, which invests in pre-seed stage start-ups in the Nordics and Baltic regions
  • Seed Capital, founded in 2004, currently has a EUR140 million fund to invest in Denmark-based companies’ seed to Series A funding rounds
  • Novo Holdings, a holding and investment company that manages the assets and wealth of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, one of the world’s largest enterprise foundations; it invests in life science companies at all stages of development and, manages a broad portfolio of equities, bonds, real estate and infrastructure assets as well as private equity investments

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By Juliana Wheeler, a US-based communications consultant and freelance journalist. Editor: Marybeth Sandell