unique Vigo Program proven to boost the growth of new ventures,
five new accelerators selected to serve more entrepreneurs
Helsinki, Finland - April 12, 2012 - Vigo Program , a pioneering Finnish public-private initiative to encourage serial entrepreneurs and experienced business leaders to establish private venture accelerators, today announced the appointment of five new accelerators. Building on the success of the first batch of accelerators appointed in 2009, the new funding and sweat equity firms extend Vigo’s reach to a higher number of promising ventures in a wider variety of focus areas.
Established to address the key market deficiencies limiting the growth and internationalization of promising startup companies in Finland, the Vigo Program has significantly increased the availability of early-stage funding and experienced hands-on expertise. Privately owned and operated accelerators invest private equity and business know-how into ventures of their choice. The accelerators are selected from applicants by the Steering Committee representing prominent experts in start-ups, growth businesses and private and public venture funding. Governmental organizations such as Tekes and Finnvera provide the accelerators’ portfolio companies with additional funding.
The five new accelerators selected from tens of applicants are Bio Asset Invest, Gorilla Ventures, Newentures, Royal Majestics Helsinki and Vendep. While all of the selected accelerators boast founding teams with strong expertise in their fields, a major goal was to increase the diversity of focus areas. The new accelerators aim to boost a variety of fields such as fashion and design, health technology, energy and cleantech.
“Vigo is unique in both purpose and methodology. The primary driver is to encourage private investments of both capital and expertise in young companies, and we explicitly decided not to limit ourselves to ICT,” explains Seppo Ruotsalainen, Partner at Profict Partners who coordinate the Vigo Program. “When setting up Vigo, we benchmarked accelerator programs in several countries. None of them is as determined as we are on matching expertise in addition to funding. The results so far are encouraging to say the least. This next step aims to make Helsinki the accelerator hub of Europe.”
In the first two and a half years into the Vigo Program, the accelerators Cleantech Invest, KoppiCatch, Lifeline Ventures and Veturi have signed a portfolio of over 40 promising startups, raised a total of €70 million of capital for the companies, and created hundreds of new jobs in the process. Out of the capital raised, 60% is private. Half of the private funds originate from outside of Finland from business angels including Steve Blank and Esther Dyson, as well as venture capital firms including Index Ventures and Accel Partners.
“We’ve seen a significant change in Finland’s early stage venture capital market. The previous lack of money and investors has turned around into a coordinated supply of smart capital,” says Petri Niemi, Chairman of the Vigo Steering Committee. “The first exit, the acquisition of KoppiCatch portfolio company Zokem by US-based Arbitron for $11,7 million, and the recent announcement by Lifeline Ventures of their new €20 million fund are testimonies that the Vigo model is delivering on its promise.”
The founding partners and focus areas of the new Vigo accelerators are:
· Bio Asset Invest is focused on health technology and is run by an experienced team including Ari-Pekka Laitsaari, William Brooks, Kai Lindevall and Steven Myint.
· Gorilla Ventures is focused on ICT-enabled disruptions and run by a highly networked team with strong investment capabilities and a proven track record including Petri Lehmuskoski, Risto Rautakorpi, Reijo Syrjäläinen and Timo Tiihonen.
· Newentures is focused on applied ICT, energy and clean tech and specifically looks at industrial ICT-enabled innovations. Run by Timo Teimonen and Niklas Törnkvist.
· Royal Majestics Helsinki is focused on innovations in fashion and design and is run by an experienced team with an extensive track record including Johannes Savolainen, Henri Kulvik and Per Aldestam.
· Vendep is focused on mobile solutions and network based services. Operating on an accelerator model and having already demonstrated their capabilities, the company is run by Hannu Kytölä, Sakari Pihlava, Juha-Pekka Arala and Mikko Bergman.
For further information, please contact:
Seppo Ruotsalainen, Vigo Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org , tel. +358 400 502 569
Petri Niemi, Vigo Steering Committee, email@example.com , tel. +358 400 511 493
About the Vigo Program
The Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economy launched the Vigo Program in 2009 with an objective to create new growth companies in Finland and to accelerate their growth and internationalization. The purpose is to engage experienced business professionals to develop new innovative companies and to attract significant venture capital investments from Finland and abroad. The objectives also include increasing the efficiency of Finland’s venture capital market. Public funding sources include Tekes and Finnvera. The Vigo steering group is appointed by The Ministry of Employment and Economy. The program is run by Tekes and coordinated by Profict Partners. For further information, please visit www.vigo.fi