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4. Nordic Health Tech

4.1 State of Nordic Health Tech

The current state of Health Tech in the Nordic region portrays a landscape marked by dynamic innovation, promising potential, and strategic investment. Renowned for their robust technological infrastructure, advanced healthcare systems, and a culture of innovation, the Nordic countries have positioned themselves at the forefront of the global Health Tech arena.
Across the Nordics, digital health solutions, medical technology (medtech), biotechnology (biotech), and consumer health innovations converge to form a multifaceted ecosystem. This ecosystem is characterized by a vibrant mix of startups, established companies, research institutions, and government initiatives, all contributing to the rapid advancement of Health Tech. It has a long history that includes some of the titans within the industry such as the Danish Novo Nordisk (est. 1923), the #2 biotech company in the world with a market cap of almost half a trillion dollars, and Genmab (est. 1999), the Swedish Sobi (est. 1939), and the Finnish Orion Corp. (est. 1917). Denmark is the 5th highest exporter of life science on a per capita basis in the world while Sweden ranks 10th.
This is supported by a strong education system in the various disciplines of health sciences. The Swedish Karolinska Institute is ranked 7th in the world in Life Science & Medicine by Faculty. The Medicon Valley region which includes Eastern Denmark and Southern Sweden is considered to be top 5 in the world for research in Biochemistry Molecular Biology, and Clinical Neurology as well as the top 10 in another seven health-related fields.
Mention MedValley report.
This furthers the Nordic region's reputation as a hub for life sciences and technology innovation has translated into a rich pool of talent, expertise, and collaborative networks. These leading universities and research institutions play a pivotal role in nurturing the next generation of Health Tech pioneers, while established companies provide a platform for the commercialization of cutting-edge technologies.
The quality of the education allows the region to be an extensive producer of patents in the field. For 2021:  Denmark had 699 patents (195 in Pharma, 241 in Biotech top 10 globally, 263 in Medtech), Sweden had 459 patents (133 in Pharma, 72 in Biotech, 254 in Medtech), Finland had 121 patents (34 in Pharma, 24 in Biotech, 63 in Medtech), Norway had 90 patents (34 in Pharma, 24 in Biotech, 32 in Medtech) and Iceland had 42 patents (18 in Pharma, 2 in Biotech, 22 in Medtech).
The Nordic Health Tech sector also benefits from a supportive regulatory environment and a comprehensive public healthcare system that fosters innovation while ensuring patient safety and data privacy. This combination of robust regulation and innovation-friendly policies has created an environment conducive to the development and adoption of novel Health Tech solutions.
In addition, the region is benefiting from a number of tailwinds that help push the health tech industry forward:
Affluent Region: Nordic countries — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden — are well-positioned to foster growth in the Health Tech industry. The region is affluent, ranking as the tenth-largest economy globally in terms of GDP. This economic prowess, coupled with the region's digital advancement, provides a robust foundation for tech-centric ventures.
Aging Population: As of 2022, an estimated 20% of the Nordic region's population is over 65 years old, a demographic trend that amplifies the need for advanced health solutions and services. The region has also shown resilience and adaptability in health crisis management, with effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Universally Available and Equitable Healthcare System: Healthcare in the Nordic countries is universally available and state-covered, offering a cost-efficient and inclusive health model. These countries typically rank highly in life expectancy, reflecting the efficacy of their healthcare systems. For instance, as per the latest OECD data, the average life expectancy in Norway is 82.5 years, with Sweden (82.7 years), Denmark (81 years), Finland (81.7 years), and Iceland (82.9 years) showcasing similar trends.
Extensive Health Data Records: The Nordic countries have some of the most comprehensive health data registers globally. These registers contain information on patient demographics, diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes, which are collected consistently across the entire population. They are a valuable resource for medical research and a crucial asset for developing.
AI and data-driven solutions in health tech: The ability to use these extensive registers for research purposes, combined with the region's robust digital infrastructure and high levels of digital literacy, positions the Nordic countries at the forefront of health tech innovation. It opens opportunities for developing personalized medicine, improving diagnostics, and tailoring treatment plans based on comprehensive, real-world data. In addition to this, the Nordic countries have strong legal frameworks in place to protect patient privacy and regulate data usage, ensuring that this data can be used responsibly and ethically.
High Digital Literacy Level: According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2022, all Nordic countries ranked within the top 10 in terms of digital performance, reflecting their populations' high level of digital skills and engagement. With such a high digital literacy level of a population, the Nordic region shows promising potential for the successful integration of digital health solutions into everyday healthcare practices.
Robust Ecosystem: There are world-class industry clusters in the region such as “Medicon Valley” in Denmark and Southern Sweden which is one of the leading life science clusters in Europe, housing a vibrant ecosystem of startups, established companies, and research institutions.
While the Nordic Health Tech landscape is undoubtedly thriving, challenges and opportunities coexist. The sector's growth potential is countered by barriers such as access to sufficient funding beyond the seed stage, the need for specialized investors with deep Health Tech knowledge, and the complexity of navigating regulatory frameworks. This report aims to unpack some of the investment barriers within the Nordic HealthTech ecosystem by talking to investors and understanding their perspectives on the industry.

4.2 Defining Health Tech

Firstly, we shall define the term Health Tech in the context of this report. The definition of HealthTech often includes a broad spectrum of multidisciplinary fields and technologies aimed at improving healthcare delivery, accessibility, efficiency, and outcomes. The meaning of the term often varies based on the context and the scope of inclusion.
For example, the World Health Organization defines health technology as "the application of organized knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives".
(World Health Organization. (2011). Health technology. In: World Health Organization.
This definition is more encompassing, allowing for traditional and well-established medical practices.
On the other hand, some industry experts tend to have a more narrow view. According to Dr. Patricia Mechael, a health tech pioneer, "Health technology or digital health involves the use of digital information, data, and communication technologies to improve health care delivery, patient care, medical research, and community health outcomes".
(Mechael, P. (2019). The evolution of digital health: from mHealth to artificial intelligence. In: Journal of Public Health and Emergency. 3: 20. doi: 10.21037/jphe.2019.09.01)
In our view, to assess overall investor sentiment of the sector, a broader definition that also includes life sciences would be beneficial. Life sciences with their subdomains such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, and medical devices play a huge role in health innovation and therefore, for the purpose of this report, a more encompassing definition of health tech is used. Health Tech, inclusive of life sciences, is the interdisciplinary field leveraging technology, digital information, and life sciences, including biotechnology and other biological discoveries, to innovate and enhance healthcare services, delivery, research, and outcomes. This definition not only encapsulates digital health solutions but also includes the application of biological discoveries, which are critical in fields like drug discovery, genomics, and personalized medicine.
Within the scope of this report, we broke down Health Tech into four subsectors: Biotech, Medtech, Digital Health, and Consumer Health. Internally the following high-level definitions were created to facilitate communication however there is an understanding that any participant in the study would use their own definition that could be equivalent to a lesser or greater extent so differentiation between sub-sectors might differ.
BioTech: The creation of new technologies and products through Biological or Chemical processes. These are generally therapeutics that leverage some combination of small molecules, biologics, cell therapies, immunotherapies, and genetics amongst other biochemical processes.    
MedTech: The creation of medical devices for the screening and diagnostics or treatment of medical issues. This could include things like cancer diagnostics devices, diabetes monitoring systems, or new materials for hip replacements.
Digital Health: The creation of products or technology that help digitalize the medical industry. They are often business-to-business solutions that help hospitals, doctors' offices, and imaging centers run their organizations in better and more efficient ways. Some examples include telehealth, AI to manage doctor workflows, and systems to manage patient records.  
Consumer Health: Any technology or product that targets consumers directly without going through traditional medical industry distribution channels (doctors, hospitals, etc.). These solutions often help consumers take greater control over their own health by democratizing access to personal health data. It can include things like personalized genetic testing (23andMe) or wearables (Oura) amongst others.

4.3 Current Investment Landscape
All data from Nordic9

Since the year 2020, Nordic Health Tech has emerged as a significant player in the global venture capital landscape. As of September 2023, the industry has attracted almost 7 billion USD in investments since 2019, experiencing an overall growth of 92% in venture investments, according to data from Nordic9.
Nordic Health Tech, in particular, witnessed a historic year in 2021, when over 2,2 billion USD of investments were poured into it. 2021 was a historic year for global Health Tech companies that benefited from an increased public and private awareness of the importance sector due to the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. In the US, almost 40 billion USD in investments were registered for the sector in 2021, while in Europe, the number reached over 15 billion USD.
Since 2021, investments in the space have experienced a significant decline, which many explain as a natural “market correction” of the venture market after a decade of low interest rates and a global pandemic. Health Tech in 2022 experienced higher investments than pre-COVID times, however significantly lower than 2021 numbers, with investments 35% down in the Nordic region, 31% down in the US, and 25% down in Europe.
Investments in Nordic Health Tech
Source: Nordic9

Nordic Health Tech's Share of Total Venture Investments
All data from Nordic9

The Nordic Venture Ecosystem is on an upward trajectory, marked by substantial growth. From 2019 to 2022, investments in Nordic Ventures for all sectors, have surged by a remarkable 244%, culminating in a total of 17.4 billion USD in investments in 2021.
In order to understand the relevance and weight of the Nordic Health Tech landscape, we have to compare it with the overall Nordic Venture sector. While Health Tech is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Nordics, the pace of investments over the same period, 2019 to 2022, has been comparatively slower, registering at 92%. This means, that even though Nordic Health Tech has experienced a significant increase in investments and the sector is enjoying an increased visibility in the Nordic venture landscape, unfortunately, it is not growing at the same pace as other emerging Nordic industries, such as Energy or Manufacturing, which is leading to a reduction in Health Tech's overall share within the Nordic investment landscape, declining from 16% in 2019 to 9% in 2022.
On a European level, investments into Nordic Health Tech represent almost 15% of all Health Tech investments in Europe, and over 2% of all investments into European Venture. 
Share of Nordic Health Tech investments over total investments in Nordic Venture
Source: Nordic9

Country-Specific Insights in venture investments
All data from Nordic9

The investment landscape for Nordic Health Tech also looks very different for each Nordic country. Within the Nordic region, Sweden and Denmark emerge as the primary beneficiaries of Health Tech investments, consistently receiving 70–80% of the total funding. This is not surprising, as both countries have Health and Life Science industries with decades of development, research, and investments. On average, of all total investments in Nordic Health Tech, 40% go to Sweden, 35% to Denmark, 11% to Norway, 9% to Finland and 5% to Iceland.
All countries have experienced growth in Health Tech investments. The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for increased investments across all Nordic countries in their Health Tech sectors. From 2019 to 2021, Norway experienced an impressive growth of 184%, Sweden led the pack with a remarkable 500% growth during the same period, Denmark showed substantial growth at 182%, Finland experienced moderate growth at 15% and Iceland surprisingly saw a significant uptick of 63%.

However, from 2021 all Nordic countries have observed a reduction of 30–50% in Health Tech investments, except for Iceland, which saw an astonishing 154% growth in 2022 compared to the previous year. For 2023, it is expected Nordic Health Tech investments to moderately increase from 2022 numbers. 
% of Nordic Health Tech investments by country
Source: Nordic9
Investments in Health Tech by country (MUSD)
Source: Nordic9