Introducing Nordea – Finalist of MSF 2020

Meet Nordea, one of the four finalists in this year’s Most Startup Friendly Company in Finland competition, with Vesa Riihimäki, Head of Startup & Growth and Teija Nousiainen, Deal Flow Manager, telling more about their startup activities.

Nordea is a leading Nordic universal bank. We are helping our customers realise their dreams and aspirations – and we have done that for 200 years. We want to make a real difference for our customers and the communities where we operate – by being a strong and personal financial partner. Nordea has 9,3 million household customers, 530 000 Small & medium sized companies and 2650 large corporates & institutions as customers. Nordea’s Startup & Growth has a Nordic wide presence and is focused on serving scalable high growth companies. 

Startup & Growth unit

Nordea has a long history with startups. In 2012-2014 Nordea was delivering key content for Nokia Bridge program. That gave us understanding of small pre seed tech companies and their logic and the financing dos and don’ts. In 2015-2017 we ran first a Finnish accelerator, then two times a global/Nordic one. Key target was to learn to cooperate with startups, adopt the culture – at all organisational levels – and be prepared to live with the raising fintech ecosystem, competition and bring Nordea’s business development to next level via partnership strategy.

In 2018 we moved forward after 3 years of Accelerators. We launched Nordea Ventures CVC and our Open Banking & Digital Banking organizations focused more on growth stage startups in relation to partnerships. In addition, several Intrapreneurship programs were also executed. Nordea Startup & Growth was initially structured 2013 and became nationwide unit 2017 – three other Nordic countries started similar units in 2018. Today Nordea Startup & Growth serves over 3500 startups and has excellent global venture network.

Nordea has been Slush’s main partner for several years, also this year.

Services beyond banking

In Nordea we collaborate with startups in two ways. First, we have 3500 startups/growth companies as our customers and our Startup & Growth units in all Nordic markets are focusing on helping the companies to grow. The Startup & Growth unit was first established in Finland in 2013. At that time Nordea’s business banking saw that there was a need for a specialized unit that would concentrate on the needs of startups/scaleups as their way of doing business varied from traditional companies’ needs.

The target from the beginning has been that we offer services beyond banking, provide a own contact person from day one and also finance startups, which is not typical for incumbent banks. The strategy has been a success and after these years Nordea Startup & Growth is a well-known and active player in the startup ecosystem, our market share in Finland is 80% and the customer satisfaction is in high level. After having the good experience from Finland, the Startup & Growth units were also established in other Nordic markets in 2018.

The other way Nordea is collaborating with startups is by partnering with fintechs in developing Nordea’s services and investing in startups. Nordea Ventures (Nordea’s CVC) has done several fintech investments within few years. As Nordea is highly digital bank and the demand for digital services is continuously increasing, we are also closely collaborating with numerous startups and making partnerships with them to develop our services. 

This year the Investor speed date event was held as an online version. There was one event for startups looking for seed-phase funding and another event for scaleups raising their A/B round. In those two events 100 VCs (Global, European, Nordic) and 100 startups/scaleups participated the event and 300 1-to-1 meetings were carried out between the startups/scaleups and VCs. The feedback was really positive and participants found it beneficial. Nordea continues organizing these Investor Speed dates also in the future and next ones are during spring 2021. Startups/scaleups can send their applications to the events from here

Specialized for startups

First of all, when thinking about the Startup & Growth business, we see that by serving the high growth companies and specializing to their needs we are able to grow their business, Nordea’s business and also help societies as growing companies brings growth to economies. Then when thinking about how the startups benefit by choosing us as their financial/banking partner – is that we can offer our services and expertise to them that goes beyond the traditional banking services. We have worked with thousands of companies within the last seven years – so we know the pains of quickly growing companies and for instance we offer Deal Flow Management services that no other bank does. 

Then again when we think about the development side and why Nordea collaborates with fintechs – it is quite obvious that as the speed of change is increasing all the time and more fintechs are coming up with good solutions, Nordea wants to collaborate with the most promising ones so that we can offer our customers the best services and customer experience. And of the question why a fintech should collaborate with Nordea. We are a Nordic bank with millions of household customers and over half a million corporate customers, so there is a great customer base who to offer your services to. Also, we are a trusted and financially stable bank so good partner to build your business with.

Nordea really recognizes the importance of startup ecosystem, and we want to help the ecosystem to flourish and we do our part: Nordea has leveraged the growth of startups/growth companies with over 500 million euros and made several LP and CVC investments during the years. 

You need to find a way to include the startup cooperation into daily tasks of your people – in all organisational levels. This way it becomes part of DNA of company culture and stays in the focus and takes the corporation’s business into next level. 

“We Grow Startups” – an online panel Nordea organized as part of Slush. Nordea brought together the actors of the startup ecosystem to discuss the current state and future of the Nordic startup ecosystem.

Want to be part of the future with Nordea?

In the future as already today Nordea’s target is to be the preferred banking partner for startups/growth companies and venture partners. We bring the best value for scalable businesses and venture partners. We are also actively cooperating and partnering with the ecosystem and driving our business and product development at leading position.

Our Startup & Growth team in all Nordic countries is really happy to help so please feel to contact us and we’ll help you out. 

Vesa Riihimäki, Head of Startup & Growth & Teija Nousiainen, Deal Flow Manager


Tribe Tampere is awarding annually the Most Startup Friendly Company in Finland. In 2020 the award was handed out for the third time. The award aims to recognize exceptional achievements, which especially industrial corporations have done to foster startup collaboration methods and improve innovation and competitiveness. Tribe Tampere is convinced that the award will stimulate collaboration and investments in startup companies, and boost internal startup culture development in industrial companies in Finland.