A seven-figure investment from Navigare AB will help double the team and set up hubs in Silicon Valley, central Europe, India and China.

Combient Foundry, the Nordic startup partnership platform, has raised a seven-figure investment from Navigare AB, part of Sweden’s Wallenberg family companies. It plans to use the funds to expand globally its business of pairing startup solutions with its industrial partners, including establishing a hub in Silicon Valley.

Lauri Lehtovuori, chief executive at Combient Foundry, says the company aims to create an “industrial app store” that connects large enterprises with startups that can accelerate product development. The idea is not for the corporations to necessarily invest in these startups but to become users of their technology at an early stage — although sometimes an investment or acquisition may follow.

Combient Foundry began in 2018 as a venture clienting programme scouting startups that could work with Combient, a grouping of 38 large Nordic companies that had come together to share resources on new technologies and transformation. Big names such as Stora Enso, H&M, Ikea and Kone are part of this group. Combient Foundry was set up to help them find startup business that could work with them on specific projects.

Over time Combient Foundry began to receive more enquires from companies outside of the Combient group and last year it was spun out as an independent entity to be able to take on potential outside clients. The team recently signed a partnership with its first company outside of Combient, with pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca.

Now Lehtovuori has plans for creating a series of innovation hubs around the world, in Silicon Valley, central Europe, India and China. The investment from Navigare AB will allow the team to double in size to around 40 people, Lehtovuori told GCV.

There has been a growing interest in companies partnering with startups not just through investment but through early commercial projects. Gregor Gimmy pioneered the concept at BMW Startup Garage in 2015 and later went on to establish 27Pilots to offer the services to companies outside BMW. More recently companies such as Maersk have added a venture client strand to their venturing operations.

Maija Palmer

Maija Palmer is editor of Global Venturing and puts together the weekly email newsletter (sign up here for free).