Nopef in 2023: Surge in number of Nordic SMEs expanding globally, total funding approaches EUR 2 million

A high level of project activity and even distribution of projects across the Nordics characterised Nopef’s activities in 2023. A pilot project completed with Nordic Innovation showcased new avenues for Nordic collaboration.

In 2023, Nopef (the Nordic Project Fund) granted funding for total 56 new projects approved for financing in 2023 to a value of EUR 1.9 million. Nopef saw a surge in the number of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) eager to expand globally as the volume of applications aligned with pre-pandemic figures.

Nopef is dedicated to driving the green transition towards a climate-neutral and sustainable society by supporting the internationalisation of Nordic green solutions. Nopef maintains a strong presence and high level of project activity in all five Nordic countries, with Denmark accounting for 21% of projects approved in 2023, Finland 16%, Iceland 4%, Norway 27% and Sweden 32%.

“We are delighted that 2023 was marked by high project activity in all Nordic countries. An even distribution of projects between the five countries demonstrates Nopef’s relevance as a funding instrument for SMEs across the Nordics,“ said Mikael Reims, Vice President, Origination, Nefco.

Impact on the environment and job creation

Of the newly approved projects, 37 are feasibility studies related to international establishments and 11 to pilot and demonstration projects. In addition, Nopef approved eight travel grants related to a pilot market entry project initiated by Nopef and Nordic Innovation, an organisation under the Nordic Council of Ministers.

In terms of potential for environmental impact, the majority of approved projects, 38%, are climate change mitigation projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy efficiency or renewable energy production. Nopef tracks approved projects also in relation to the Nordic Council of Ministers’ action plans for the Nordic Vision 2030, and all approved projects approved in 2023 contribute to one or more of the initiatives within the Nordic co-operation programme for the business sector.

“Our customer survey shows that Nopef’s internationalisation support improves opportunities for Nordic companies to scale up and grow. The impact trickles down also to job creation: The projects financed by Nopef in 2023 are expected to contribute to the creation of approximately 242 new jobs, including 38 in the Nordic region,” commented Reims.

Project success surpassed targets

At the end of the year, Nopef’s portfolio consisted of 111 conditional loans, amounting to EUR 4.1 million in approved financing. Implemented across 31 project countries, most of Nopef’s portfolio is targeting growth opportunities in emerging markets.

The success rate of implemented projects in 2023 surpassed the target: 33 feasibility studies (target 23) resulted in the establishment of an international business or in the implementation of a pilot or demonstration project in the target country. This corresponds to a success rate of 57% for feasibility studies completed in 2023. The completed projects represented all five Nordic countries and are spread across 24 target countries, including six projects in the US, three in India and two in Canada and Kenya respectively.

Strengthened synergies within Nordic cooperation

During the year, Nopef deepened its collaboration with Nordic Innovation by piloting a collaboration project. By joining forces, Nopef and Nordic Innovation aim to amplify the impact and facilitate greater access to international markets for Nordic SMEs. Through the project, Nopef provided financial support to eight SMEs for them to participate in Nordic business delegations to Singapore and Tokyo.

Nopef prioritises projects that include partners from multiple Nordic countries and thereby fosters new Nordic collaborations, networks and solutions. Nearly half of the internationalisation projects approved in 2023 include partners from multiple Nordic countries.

Nopef continues to collaborate with Nefco to facilitate further financing options for its customers. This relationship has created increased synergies with Nopef to generate positive environmental impacts in alignment with the interests of the Nordic countries.

“Moving forward, Nopef remains dedicated in its commitment to contribute to a green, competitive, and socially sustainable Nordic region,” concluded Reims.

More about Nopef activities and results

Nopef Annual Review 2023
Nopef in numbers

For further information, please contact:

Mikael Reims, Vice President Origination, Nefco, +358 10 6180 670

Anni Rein, Communications Manager, Nefco, +358 40 7504740

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