Nordic venture capital funds and universities bring science to society

Several venture capital funds have joined forces with Estonia’s University of Tartu and TalTech, Finland’s Aalto University and Latvia’s Riga Technical University and the University of Latvia to launch an investment readiness day called Science Base Camp, with an aim to bring European science to society.

Venture capital funds have joined forces with Baltic and Nordic universities, including Aalto University, the University of Tartu, Tallinn University of Technology – also known as TalTech, Riga Technical University and the University of Latvia to launch an investment readiness day for deep tech teams called the Science Base Camp. Deep tech – or deep technology – companies aim to provide technology solutions based on substantial scientific or engineering challenges.

The Science Base Camp will be held virtually on 19 February 2021. “The aim of the Science Base Camp is to build a bridge between investors and future technologies to help accelerate the commercialisation of science-based products,” the initiators said in a statement.

The next wave of future technologies

The Science Base Camp was initiated by an early-stage investment fund Superangel, founded by Estonian entrepreneurs and investors Veljo Otsason, Rain Rannu and Marek Kiisa. Otsason said the initiative was a dedicated step towards identifying the next wave of future technologies. “Nordic universities are known for their innovation and forward thinking. Our common goal is to offer support to science-based solutions that experience long development periods and offer more meaningful feedback than ‘it’s too early for us’,” he said.

Otsason added that it could take up to ten years before the science-based solutions reach the market. “To shorten lengthy development time and increase commercialisation potential, it is necessary to engage potential customers early on in the process,” he said.

The Science Base Camp was initiated by an early-stage investment fund Superangel, founded by Estonian entrepreneurs and investors Marek Kiisa, Rain Rannu and Veljo Otsason. Photo by Superangel.

Other venture capital funds joining the initiative are Nordic Ninja, Voima Ventures, Maki VC, Superhero and Practica Capital. Among the mentors are also Bolt’s co-founder Martin Villig, ex-Skype executive Sten Tamkivi and former Facebook’s director of partnerships, Markku Mäkeläinen.

Universities are proactive

During the hackathon, the mentors will actively participate to help teams identify opportunities. Participants can also use the opportunity to learn from teams from other universities who might be a step ahead in certain areas.

Both the University of Tartu and TalTech said they were looking for the investors’ support for their scientific work. The former has also established The Experimental Fund of UT, to bridge science and products as well as services.

TalTech’s campus in Tallinn. Photo by TalTech.

Sven Illing, the vice rector for entrepreneurship at TalTech, said the Science Base Camp supported TalTech’s goal of taking science to wider society through spin-off companies. “Estonia has grown into an excellent platform for the growing software-based startups. I’m hopeful that we’re taking the next step with our ecosystem, and mentors and investors will emerge who are capable of supporting science-based technology startups,” Illing said, adding that TalTech was open for partnership with Estonian and foreign investors.

Applications are open for teams from the University of Tartu, TalTech, Aalto University, Riga Technical University and the University of Latvia. Deadline for applications is 1 February 2021.

Cover: A Base Camp day in 2020. Photo by Superangel.

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