Entrepreneur

Northern European startups headed down Santa Claus Lane

It is not just Santa that comes from the Arctic. Startups, too, hail from the chilly climes of the North. Arctic Startup is a technology news blog that focuses its coverage on Northern Europe. While the Nordic and Baltic companies are not as hot (in many ways) from emerging markets like Brazil, this region also has a blooming startup scene.

I stumbled upon Arctic Startup after typing in “North Pole” and “startup” into my search engine in the hopes of finding an interesting idea for a Christmas Eve post. I was thinking in a more playful vein, like 10 ways Santa’s Little Workshop resembles a technology incubator. Instead, I gained a glimpse into a snowy land where innovation and entrepreneurship is generating heat under the ice.

Arctic Startup was founded in 2007. It is a daily news publication intended to “promote this region as the best and most interesting place to run a startup.” Early in November, the company announced that it would be ceasing commercial operations and attempt to function as a non-profit, in an effort to become a “more integrated part of the Northern European startup community.” However, hints in that blog post about the shift indicate that perhaps Arctic Startup is no longer able to sustain a paid staff and thus will run on guest posts and community-generated content.

This morning, the site ran a Happy Holidays post with the top ten most popular posts of 2012. These included the fact that Wired’s list of Europe’s 100 hottest startups included companies from Helsinki, Stockholm, and Moscow, as well as a few articles on Finnish game developer Rovio (the maker of Angry Birds), a few stories about ThePirateBay, and, funding news!

bMobilized, a company that offers a DIY platform to convert any website into an HTML5-enabled site for mobile. On Friday, Arctic Startup reported that it received $2.5 million in its first institutional funding round from Norway’s Alliance Ventures, Investinor, and Alden AS. This brings its total funding raised to $ 4 million.

Another investment tidbit I missed was Helsinki-based Applifier’s €3 million Series B. Applifier is a social network built around mobile gameplay recordings. Mobile and gaming are clearly areas of interest in Northern Europe, as they are in the rest of the world. Another shared interest? Wine! Vivino Wine is a tracking, rather than a discovery app. Wine enthusiasts take a photo of the bottle and the app generates information about that particular vintage. This Danish company received a $1 million from Creandum, following a seed round last year.

Other interesting facts about the Nordic and Baltic startup scene? Skype cofounder Janus Friis is from Denmark, Spotify and Rdio are based in the region, which is also a major hub for telecommunications, as well as research on health and genetics. The nurturing of a vibrant technology scene is also happening at a governmental level. In September, we reported that Estonia is implementing a new education program called ProgeTiiger that will have 100 percent of publicly educated students learning to write code.

This holiday season, here comes innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology down Santa Claus Lane.


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