Facts and numbers on startups and scaleups in the Oslo region
On behalf of Oslo Business Region, Menon Economics has made a report on the development of and the value creation by startups with growth potential and growth companies in the Oslo region. How many growth companies are there in Oslo? What industries are they in? How many jobs have the Oslo Startup Ecosystem created? And in what direction is Oslo as a startup city moving?
We tend to use the phrase “the last 10 years, the number of startups in Oslo has boomed” a lot! Now, we wanted to find the numbers behind.
The main goals of the report were as following
- Getting an overview of the startups and scaleups in the municipality and in the region
- Analyse the development over time
- Highlight societal contribution of these companies
- Compare Oslo to other international capital regions
- Show current challenges and opportunities
- Initiate the first report with this scope with the intension to follow up with new reports in the years to come
The report does not give the full picture of what's stirring in the startup scene in Oslo and Norway, but we hope that it can be valued as an addition to other data on National and global level out there.
We hope that the report will be useful for those who are interested in startups, innovation and sustainable business, ranging from incubators and startup founders to policy makers, universities and politicians. We think that companies attracting local and global investment and business opportunities will find it highly relevant. Not least will it be an important tool for the Oslo Business Region team to create better and more accurate products.
Key numbers and development over time
Now, let's dive into the content.
More and more new companies are coming out of the Oslo startup ecosystem, and a few growth companies. Menon count 2,200 startups and 188 scaleups in 2019.
According to Menon’s definition there are more than 2,200 startups with growth potential in the Oslo region (2019). About 10 percent of these satisfy a stricter definition of growth ambition (many of them technology driven). Between 2010 -2019, the value creation created by startups with growth potential and scaleups increased by 40 percent.
There are 188 scaleups in the Oslo region. Since 2010 there has been a 66 percentage increase in scaleup companies. However Oslo still has the lowest number of scaleups per capita in the Nordic countries.
66% increase in scaleups between 2010-2019
Location and industries
Most of the scaleup population is concentrated in the Municipality of Oslo. 77% of the 188 scaleups are based here. In comparison only 60% of the startups are based in the municipality.
Scaleups in the Oslo region are centered around ICT. 38% are within the fields of computer programming & consultancy including companies such as Kathoot!, CSAM Health and Gelato as well as House of Control and Xledger Labs. Another industry where we find many scaleups is Professional services which count for 31%.
Figure below (8): Scaleups and startups by industry in 2019. Source: Menon Economics
Scaleups contribution over time
The trend is that both the revenue and the value creation by scaleups grow as the number of scaleups grow. The value creation has increased by 25 percent since 2010 (20,1 billion in 2019) and the revenue has increased 31 percent (7,3 billion in 2019).
How are we doing compared to our Nordic neighbours?
No surprises there - we are still lagging behind. Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen are however in the "top league" in Europe so we are comparing ourselves to the capitals with the best entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems.
What is interesting though is that becoming an entrepreneur is a fairly new business in Norway (more or less). Stockholm developed their innovation ecosystem in the 1990s with Ericsson in lead. 5-10 years later, two of the Swedish startup successes were founded. 16 years ago in 2005, the Fintech company Klarna was started, and 14 years ago (in 2006), the music streaming startup Spotify was founded. Based on the latest data from 2013 on Crunchbase, Spotify has fostered 81 founders, meaning that 81 former Spoitfy employees have formed new startups.
To sum it up: 10 years ago, we did not have companies such as Kahoot, Otovo and ReMarkable. This journey has merely started, and it will be interesting to see where we are in another 5-10 years.
New companies are important for employment in the region. Companies defined as scaleups employ 7,500 people, and startups have created 5,700 new jobs over the last decade. As much as 6,500 people are engaged in startup activities, all representing new companies and jobs created over the last five years. The Oslo region has seen a net job growth in private companies of 123,000 the last 10 years, of which 10 percent in the startups and scaleups of 2019.
The 188 scaleups employ 7,500 people (2019). This shows a growth of 66 percent between 2010 and 2019, and the highest increase came between 2016 and 2019. The report points to a maturing ecosystem in Oslo, a focus on sustainability and the green shift and the release of many highly educated people in tech and engineering due to the oil-crisis as reasons for the growth.
To sum it up - the need for startup talent
"The numbers are important but it's the development that is interesting. Since 2010 there has been a 66 percentage increase in scaleup companies," says CEO of Oslo Business Region, Siw Andersen. "Another key learning for us has been that the growth companies now employ 7,500 people which is more than the 6,500 people startups employ combined."
The development is positive, however the job is not done.
Another interesting finding of the report is the challenge the growth companies are having attracting tech and startup talent. So even though the development rate is high, the companies point to the lack of talent being a challenge for scaling.
"The companies need talent to be able to scale further," says Andersen.
We hope that you find the report useful and if you want to use some of the statistics, please email Fredrik Salberg (see down below), or screenshot and credit: Menon Economics for Oslo Business Region.
Recap in numbers
- According to Menon’s definition there are more than 2,200 startups with growth potential in the Oslo region (2019). About 10 percent of these satisfy a stricter definition of growth ambition.
- Between 2010 -2019, the value creation created by startups with growth potential and scaleups increased by 40%.
- There are 188 scaleups in the Oslo region. Since 2010 there has been a 66 percentage increase in scaleup companies.
- 188 scaleups count for 7,500 employees and NOK 7,3 bn in value creation
- 2238 innovative startups with potential for growth count for 6,500 employees and NOK 4,3 bn in value creation.
- The value creation has increased by 25 percent since 2010 (20,1 billion in 2019) and the revenue has increased 31 percent (7,3 billion in 2019).
- Most of the scaleup population is concentrated in the Municipality of Oslo. 77% of the 188 scaleups are based here. In comparison 60% of the startups are based in the municipality.
- Scaleups in the Oslo region are centered around ICT. 38% are within the fields of computer programming & consultancy, and Professional services count for 31%.
Facts about the report
- On behalf of Oslo Business Region, Menon Economics has created the report in the period November 2020 - March 2021.
- Oslo Business Region is a limited company fully owned and funded by the City of Oslo.
- In the definition phase, Menon got input from StartupLab, Innovation Norway, BI - Norwegian Business School, Stockholm Business Region, City of Oslo, Innovation Norway and Startup Campus in addition to Oslo Business Region.
- The report aims to capture companies that have a potential for growth and innovation and are important for the future economy of both the region and Norway as a whole.
- The last available public data are from 2019 (hence not 2020 numbers).
- The report cannot include information that is not available to the public (meaning we might have missed something). There are probably great successes yet the numbers don't fit our framework and can’t be included. The report doesn’t take into account factors such as ambition (so you might have a great strategy for growth however we don’t know that).
- How do we count value creation? Short version: EBITDA and Labor cost. Longer version: Companies which pay salaries to employees, taxes to the government and profits to owners generate values for society. The value created in the companies is captured by measuring value creation, calculated as EBITDA and labor costs. This measure can be used to measure a company’s societal return, e.g., as a share of GDP.
What is a startup with growth potential?
Startups are from 2-5 years of age since the first year of economic activity6 and fulfil one of the following criteria:
a) Startups that sort under NACE-codes (5-digit) where the share of employees with more than a bachelor’s degree exceeds 33 percent (knowledge intensive)
b) Companies with R&D tax credits (SkatteFUNN) at least once during the first 5 years (innovative)
c) Operational loss that amounts to twice the accumulated revenues over the first 2-5 years, and registered wage costs (j-curve)
d) Startups that have increased their share capital with a minimum of NOK 100,000 (capital intensive)
What is an innovative scaleup?
A scaleup has seen an annualized growth of at least 20 percent over three years with 10 or more employees at the start of the period, and fulfils either one of the following three criteria:
a) Knowledge-intensive companies: All scaleups that sort under NACE-codes (5-digit) where the share of employees with more than a bachelor’s degree exceeds 33 percent (knowledge-intensive)
b) Companies that have been awarded R&D tax credits (SkatteFUNN) at least once (innovative)
c) Companies that have increased their share capital with a minimum of NOK 1 million or figure in the portfolios of seed and venture funds (both state-supported and pure private early-stage investment funds) (capital-intensive)