Recently a study from LTH was released that analyzed investments in startups in Skåne, the Swedish part of the Øresund Region.

This is one of the few scientific studies done in startup investments in Scandinavia. The study, called “Equity financing of early stage growth firms in Skåne” focused on investments by business angels connected to Teknopol, Connect Skåne or Almi, government funded networks for business investments. This is not a perfect sample, but given the number of business angels surveyed and the fact that a lot of the business angels in the region are somehow connected to one of these networks, it is definitely interesting and relevant numbers.

The study was conducted both quantitative and qualitative, with 150 angels being surveyed and 13 deep interview being held.

“On average, the Angels had a 22% annual return on their investment, which must be regarded as very good! The survey, which can be seen as the first of its kind, foil many of the preconceived notions that exist. Very interesting reading!”, writes Filip Larsson, who blogged about the study

A summary of the results

This summary is taken from the article about the research.

Business angels estimate of their own investment:

Performance overall % of angels
Lost a significant amount of value 17,9 %
Neither increased nor lost value 26,8 %
Performance matching marked index (8% / year) 12,5 %
Performed significant better then index 28,6 %
Performed multiple times better then index 14,3 %

Over 55% have seen their investments develop at least as market indices, 8% per year, 43% done better than 8%, and 14% many times better.

If you look at the individual investment made, half return less than what is invested in them, and half of it has greater returns, as seen in the table below. Of those who have had a loss most seems to have gone bankrupt, but the ones performing well have surpassed the losses, and that is the reason why it is, on average, a profit.

ROI of invested amount

Return on investment

% of total exits
Less then 0.5 x

41 %
0.5 – 1 x 9 %
1 – 2.5 x 15 %
2.5 – 7 x 20 %
Higher then 7 x 15 %

From this the authors made a broad calculation of yearly performance / ROI:

“If you make assumptions that all investments were equal and that all were sold after median duration, 4.9 years, one can calculate the annual yield of the investments. With maximum conservative assumptions about the ranges of how much investment paid back, the annual yield would be 12 %. With more realistic assumptions, but still conservative, this number is 22%.”, they write.

The study was definitely not perfect – it relied to a large extend on data provided by the business angels themselves, which might not be totally reliable. Also, the resulting 22 % seem to have a high degree of uncertainty, and maybe should be better expressed as “10-25 %” or similar interval.

However, all studies like these are warmly welcomed and good for the investing climate. Any study that gives an broad overview and puts some concrete data in this field is good – a field where there’s a lot of individual know-how and experience but often a focus on success stories and an aversion for losses and failed investments. And of course – a study that would look into the Danish parts of the region as well would be very interesting, both for comparing as well as for getting a picture of the entire region.

You can read the entire study for further details.