Startups attract US 600 billion in investment capital to Knights of #slush

The annual Knights of #slush 2018 investor event brought together close to 120 international investors and the same number of startups to Espoo and Helsinki, Finland on 2-3 December.

When you get US 600 billion of assets under management and dozens of top startups inside one room, you know something very special is going on. This is what happened at the Knights of #slush investor event that took place in Espoo and Helsinki on 2-3 December. The event attracted 118 international investors and 117 top Finnish and international startups to the Finnish capital area.

Knights of #slush, organised by Espoo Marketing Oy, Lifelearn and Castrén & Snellman Attorneys Ltd, is an official pre-Slush side event organised for the sixth time. The investor event brings together international investors and corporate leaders with startups and scaleups from the Finnish capital region, the rest of the country and around the world.

This year investors came from Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, USA, Spain, Monaco, China and Germany – among them Decacorn Capital, JBIC and Tengellman Ventures. The batch of companies taking part was from Finland, France, Sweden, Iceland, Austria and Germany.

“Knights of #slush has made a real impact in the Finnish startup ecosystem – and the impact has increased every year. By inviting a wide range of high-quality startups, we ensured that the event offers the investors the best of what the capital area and Finland have to offer,” says Jaana Tuomi, CEO of Espoo Marketing Oy.

It is rare to draw such a prestigious group of investors to any event in Finland. Not to mention the level of commitment that the investors bring to Knights of #slush. This year, one Chinese investor shipped the most expensive EV in the world, Nio Ep 9, to Helsinki — just to park it on the doorstep the House of Nobility where the event dinner was held.

Free-flowing startup pitching session at Espoo Marketing

The hunt for the unicorns started on 2 December with one-on-one meetings at A Grid in Espoo. During the Sunday, 32 hand-picked startups from Espoo, Paris and Berlin pitched to the investors in a buzzing, free-flowing speed dating session in Espoo Marketing’s office.

The mood was upbeat and excited throughout as the investors roamed freely among the startups, having discussions at their own pace. In addition to this, pre-matched meetings were scheduled for the investors. On average, each startup discussed with five investors during the session.

Between the pitching afternoon and the opening party in the evening, the investors also had time to go deeper with the companies that had made the biggest impression on them.

Castrén & Snellman Investor Day: Tailored meetings between international investors and handpicked scale-ups followed by afternoon seminar “Nordic Innovation meets Asian Growth”

The next day, Castrén & Snellman Attorneys hosted the already traditional Castrén & Snellman Investor Day, an invitation-only event with meetings for scaleups and investors followed by an afternoon high-level seminar. This year’s company mix included also EIT Digital Accelerator scaleups from Austria, Germany and Finland. The Castrén & Snellman seminar brought together an interesting mix of top-level Finnish and Asian investment executives to share their views of the future prospects for Nordic-Asian opportunities and investment collaboration.

The two-day event culminated on Monday evening in the Knights of #slush dinner.

Launchpad – physical matchmaking meets digital

Knights of #slush also offered an opportunity to pilot the brand-new Launchpad digital matchmaking platform. Launchpad provides insights about the most exciting startups in Finland and Europe and connects them with the right investors and corporate partners. The platform was opened on 13 November and over 100 startups have already signed up.

The digital platform was created in the frame of Espoo Marketing’s Startup to Scaleup Launchpad Europe Activity, which is supported by EIT Digital. As part of the European collaboration, Launchpad is also open to European startups.

Best kept secret of the Finnish startup scene

While the actual Slush event understandably gathers most of the startup buzz in Finland at the end of each year, Knights of #slush has quietly become one of the best kept and most lucrative secrets in the Finnish startup scene.

The event is all about making the right matches to help the companies that take part. As an example of recent success, Dispelix, an Espoo startup that creates displays for smart glasses and AR devices, received a EUR 12 million investment in 2018 from an investor the company met for the first time at Knights of #slush 2017.

Knights of #slush is highly valued by international investors that keep on coming to Espoo and Helsinki year after year. The reason is simple: they want to meet the best startups from Espoo and Finland.