A pioneering European fund has been launched today, helping diversify the face of Europe’s VC scene. Danish firm Unconventional Ventures has launched a €30 million fund – targeting diverse founding teams that are building impactful tech companies.
Built and backed by a diverse pool of investors and advisors, Unconventional Ventures are shaking up Europe’s VC space for good – and have made an announcement today that marks an important step towards diversifying and improving Europe’s investment scene.
The Danish firm has launched a new €30 million fund that will increase investment into founders identifying as women, POC, immigrants and/or LGTBQ+, who are building impact tech companies with an ESG lens. And it’s attracted a lot of attention from key players in the Nordic investment landscape.
Rolf Kjærgaard, CEO at Vaekstfonden, said: “We at Vaekstfonden want to ensure equality and diversity, including, but not limited to, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. Because when we as investors contribute with financial capital, we have both an opportunity, as well as a responsibility, to create change. As part of our scaled efforts, we, therefore, see a large potential in Unconventional Ventures and in their mission. They can help create change and push to enable the ecosystems of the Nordics in creating the companies of the future, that are founded and run by diverse teams. We want to work towards that goal, both because it is the right thing to do, but also because experience shows that companies that are diverse are more innovative and produce larger returns.”
The fund will enable Unconventional Ventures to act broadly, giving investments in both the pre-seed and seed stages. Priority will be given to the conviction that diversity, impact and growth are interconnected in the investment – giving this fund an inspiring new “investment-for-good” model.
Claus Gregersen, Chr. Augustinus Fabrikker, added: “We are excited to be part of Unconventional Ventures, which is our eleventh impact investment and the first one specifically targeting diversity. Despite talent being evenly distributed across genders, ethnicities and sexualities, diverse founders receive only a small share of VC funding. We believe the team has the drive and dedication to lead this impact-focused venture fund and add real value to diverse founder teams. For this reason, we are delighted to be an anchor investor in Unconventional Ventures.”
Additionally, Terje Eidesmo, CEO at Investinor, has commented: “As Norway’s largest venture capital investor, Investinor is building the businesses of tomorrow. The business case for diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever, and we are very happy to be supporting Unconventional Ventures on their important mission. Investing in diversity is not only the right thing to do, but can also result in better financial performance”.
Not only does the aim of the fund sound good in writing, but with the support of these big names in the Nordic investment space, the firm is evidently on to something here.
Since 2019, UV has been led by General Partners Thea Messel and Nora Bavey. Its team is made up of a diverse pool of investors and advisors, all with extensive experience and a broad range of perspectives. The company has over the years been creating investment vehicles to unlock the potential of diverse founding teams – teams which are far too often overlooked and underserved.
Thea Messel, founder and GP at UV, said: “It’s always been our conviction that the combination of diversity and sustainability constitutes the most substantial investment opportunity – in the Nordics and globally. With this new fund, we will have the financial force to back many of the fantastic founders we have met over the years, who are building companies creating a better future for all of us.”
UV’s annual reports on the funding gap in the Nordic investment landscape are widespread and in early 2021 they launched the first digital European accelerator program targeting underrepresented founders.
With this new fund, UV is ready to accelerate the work of unleashing the untapped potential of tech companies built by diverse founding teams, with a particular focus on solutions for climate, health, education, and inclusive fintech.
Nora Bavey, co-founder and GP at UV, added: “As a first time fund, we are particularly proud of the diverse group of investors backing the fund, varying from institutional investors to recognised international VC funds and progressive Family offices being frontrunners in impact investment, to successful entrepreneurs.”
It’s a pioneering fund, one of Europe’s first to have a clear focus on both backing diverse founding teams and companies having a positive impact, either of environmental or social impact, at the core of their business model – and it’s both refreshing and inspiring to see.