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Nordic VC Voima Ventures launches €90M fund for deep tech startups

Nordic VC firm Voima Ventures today announced its third fund with an initial closing of €90 million and a final target of €120 million, focusing on early-stage "deep tech" startups from across the science sphere.

Founded out of Helsinki, Finland, in 2019, Voima Ventures targets companies at the pre- and seed-stage, mostly involving startups emerging from university labs and related research institutions. Voima also occasionally delves into later stage investments where it involves existing portfolio companies, and its typical areas include companies working on sustainability, life science and health, and other "groundbreaking" technologies such as quantum computing.

Voima's first two funds were launched back in 2019. Its €20 million Fund I was essentially the spin-off portfolio of state-owned technical research center VTT which remains one of the fund's limited partners (LPs) today, while the second €60 million fund was announced simultaneously alongside the new Voima Ventures brand and a swathe of additional LPs. The first two funds have backed some 30 companies, including the likes of Solar Foods, Dispelix, Betolar and MVision, and it has a handful of exits to its name including Minima, which was snapped up by Bosch last year.

Voima's latest fund includes capital from the European Investment Fund (EIF), Finland's Tesi, VTT, Sweden's Saminvest, and a handful of pension funds, foundations and family offices.

Bright and early

Europe has been ripe for fresh early-stage VC funds lately. In the past few months alone, we've seen the U.K.’s Amadeus Capital partner with Austria’s Apex Ventures for a €80 million ($86 million) deep tech fund, similar to IQ Capital which launched a new $200 million fund for early-stage deep tech startups. Moonfire VC, meanwhile, closed its second fund at $115 million; Playfair Capital closed a $70 million pre-seed fund; Ireland’s Elkstone closed its first formal VC fund at $108 million; Finland's Lifeline Ventures closed a $163 million fund; and in France Emblem and Ovni Capital both announced new €50 million ($54 million) funds.

As with its previous funds, Voima's third pot is focused firmly on Nordic and Baltic countries, though it occasionally dips into other countries across Northern Europe, and it's aiming for ticket sizes ranging from €200,000 to €3 million spread across roughly 25 companies.

A core defining characteristic of Voima's fund is that in addition to its collaboration with VTT, which is among Europe's largest research institutes, it actively collaborates with universities from across Northern Europe. Voima founding partner Inka Mero says that nearly three-quarters of its portfolio hail from the academic world, including quantum chip startup Semiqon, which VTT recently spun out as an independent entity, and Cellfion, a clean energy materials company that emerged from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Linköping University (LIU) in Sweden.

"We actively collaborate with all the Nordic and Baltic universities -- we do this by visiting science teams and teams in incubation on a regular basis, hosting workshops, and coaching the most potential teams on a regular basis," Mero told TechCrunch.

And while much has changed in the world since Voima first arrived on the scene some four years ago, from the global pandemic to major economic headwinds among other macroeconomic factors, Mero says it's mostly business as usual in terms of what they're looking for in startups and they're approach to investing.

"Our investment strategy has remained the same -- we continue investing in science-based and deep tech in the Nordics and Baltics," Mero said. "With Fund III we are even more thesis-driven, and invest in companies tackling pressing global challenges."