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The Scandi effect on London’s tech scene

More and more Scandinavian businesses are choosing to setup in London, as Oli Johnson, co-founder, Rainmaking Loft, highlights.

As a Scandinavian entrepreneur and a co-founder of a British startup hub, I am proud of both the success and the interconnectivity of these two great tech powerhouses.

We all know that the UK tech scene is booming with forecasts showing that the sector will boost the economy by £18bn in 2015. London’s emergence as the most important tech hub in Europe is not only testament to the city’s incredible home-grown innovators but also to thousands of migrant entrepreneurs based here.

The richness of the UK startup ecosystem is a key part of its success.  According to startupDNA and Wayra, London’s startups are five times more likely to be female and ten times more likely to be from a different ethnicity (other than white or Asian) than rivals Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv.

London’s status as a torchbearer for diversity was certainly a factor when we chose to open Rainmaking Loft at St Katharine Docks back in 2013.  The continual flow of talent in and out of London from other tech hubs led us to decide early on that we wanted it to be part of a network of lofts across Europe. Currently our other locations are Berlin and Copenhagen, with more in the pipeline.

A recent report from GP Bullhound found that the UK is the unicorn champion of Europe with 8 firms hitting the $1bn valuation mark but Sweden is also punching above its weight with six billion-dollar tech companies, including music-streaming service Spotify and payments group Klarna. And according to London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s inward investment company, four of the six fasted growing Scandinavian startups have offices in London.

Scandinavian businesses choosing to setup in London are benefiting from easy access to growth capital, with recent research from London & Partners revealing that venture capital investment into Britain’s technology sector has reached a record high with London-based companies securing around 75% of the $2.2bn raised by UK firms since the beginning of this year.

Nordic investors are showing a strong appetite for backing London tech companies. This year has seen leading Nordic VC firm Northzone Ventures invest in one of London’s fastest growing fintech companies, MarketInvoice, with an involvement in the company’s recent $10m Series B funding round. Meanwhile, Swedish VC Ekstranda was involved in the $24.1m Series C funding round for online restaurant booking service

The growing influence of the Scandinavian community in London is palpable.  Johan Brand, co-founder of game-based learning company Kahoot! set up the Nordic Connection based at The Trampery to celebrate the entrepreneurial connections between the Nordic economies and London.

In May this year, leaders from the Norwegian capital Oslo signed an historical trade agreement with Hackney, strengthening business and investment opportunities for local businesses.  The Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK is the third largest overseas chamber in London and is very active, particularly in the gaming and app industry with an impressive membership including Angry Birds and Supercell.

Want to delve into this a bit further?  Check out the Nordic Web which maps the region’s tech sector and its influence across the globe.  In the meantime, we’ve put our heads together with London & Partners to compile the following ‘ones to watch’ list:

 Mobile app developer Nodes (who also happens to be Raimmaking Loft member)

 Customer insight provider Relationwise

 Sports fan engagement service fanmode (another Rainmaking Loft member)

 Consumer insight firm Trustpilot

 Online ticketing service Billetto (A Rainmaking Loft Alumni)

 Edtech startup Kahoot!

 Digital publishing app Readly