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China is an enormous possibility – and an enormous challenge

Nordic investors and start-up companies in the Nordic to Global Initiative
  • Publisert 13.11.2012
  • Sist oppdatert 15.11.2012
The Chinese market can provide many opportunities for Nordic start-ups, but it takes the right partners and an understanding of local conditions to be able to benefit from them.

- Before starting any activities in China, it is important to test the waters carefully and try to isolate potential risks. How will you be able to succeed? Do you have the resources it takes? And the right partners to help you? says Arne Tonning from Norwegian Alliance Venture.


Tonning was one the early stage investors that together with Nordic start-up companies, particularly within ICT, as a part of the Nordic to Global Initiative participated in a trip to Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Shanghai to meet with leading Chinese investors and potential strategic partners.


- The trip provided a good platform for learning and engaging, as well as for making new connections and identifying opportunities - both Chinese and Nordic. It is clear that a Nordic initiative like this enables each one of us to punch above our weight in comparison to representing only our own organisation or country. Together as a group we get attention on a higher level, which makes it easier to reach a critical mass.


Hans Christian Bjørne, senior innovation advisor at Nordic Innovation, tha facilitator of the Initiative, adds:


- The future competitiveness of the Nordic region is largely dependent on the success of young innovative companies with international growth ambitions and potential. Good framework conditions and support systems have created a strong technology base and start-up scene in the Nordic countries, but with small home markets and the large markets far away, the difficulty lies in scaling start-ups into high growth companies. It is crucial that we cooperate on a Nordic level for early stage companies and investors to exchange experiences, share networks  and build connections to key growth markets.



An open mindset is crucial

Olov Renberg from Swedish Behaviosec, one of the start-ups participating in the Nordic to Global Initiative, says that a market like China offers a great potential to find early adopters, but that it is crucial for a company to have an open mindset and an understanding of the local culture.


- The Chinese might have the same needs as us, but when it comes to their way of operating and making decisions, they work on other levels than us.


Renberg says that the trip resulted in many new contacts, also among their Nordic neighbors.


- I was surprised to meet these new companies that I had never heard of before, and actually we have already engaged with one of them for a potential partnership.


To Arne Tonning there is no doubt that the Nordic region still has a lot to offer when it comes to new innovative technologies.


-  At the same time, we need to be aware that our Nordic home market is small and that we belong to these global value chains and networks. Trying to do everything by ourselves will not work over time; it is important that we position ourselves in this global context by focusing on our core abilities, advantages and value drivers, at the same time as we work closely with the right partners and alliances to achieve better results quicker.



The Nordic start-ups that were showcased in China under the Nordic to Global Initiative:

  • BehavioSec
  • Excito
  • Integrasco
  • PowerKiss
  • TactoTek
  • Mobile Backstage
  • PoLight
  • DealDash
  • Epicrystals


About the Nordic to Global Initiative

The Nordic to Global Initiative is made up of a combination of different activities to build strategic relations between national investors in the Nordic region, their portfolio companies and potential international investors and partners.


The Initiative aims at:

  • Building relations to important investors and partners in global markets.
  • Developing the competences of Nordic investors further.
  • Creating a faster track for Nordic startups to key growth markets.

Nordic Innovation is the facilitator of the Initiative. Members are the leading public investors Finnvera (FI), Innovation Norway (NO) and Innovationsbron (SE).