- Hungry for innovation. It’s 2017. Japan has a budding startup ecosystem, yet not big enough to feed the market’s hunger for digital innovation. With a successful Japanese footprint already in Silicon Valley, Japan sets its eye on Europe.
- JBIC, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, embarks a journey to shake up the traditional corporate culture in Japan, and set up a pilot venture fund in Europe, to invest in the most promising technology companies.
- Enter the New Nordics. Countries huddled around the Baltic Sea have proven themselves as a hotbed for technology innovation. The Nordic and Baltic countries in particular have unparalleled performance both in a number of startups and capital performance per capita. Their Silicon Valley can-do attitude combined with a Japan-Esque pursuit of quality and data ethics makes it a perfect place to start a new deeptech fund.
- Pilot partners. In addition to JBIC, three global Japanese powerhouses join forces – Panasonic, Honda, and Omron – and NordicNinja is born, headquartered in Helsinki. BaltCap, the largest private equity fund in the Baltics, joins as a local general partner to set up operations in the region.
- Landing in Helsinki. It’s one of the coldest days of the year in February 2019. Tomosaku Sohara, Shinichi Nikkuni, and Makoto Shiono relocate their families from Japan; Marek Kiisa and Claes Mikko Nilsen join the team locally from Estonia and Finland.
- Bringing talents home. Rainer Sternfeld relocates from Silicon Valley, Jesse Saarela from Finland, and Ryo Ota from Tokyo. The founding team is complete.
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