Panorama of the Old Town Bridge or Gamle Bybro of Trondheim, Norway.

Bjarne Lie on venture trends

Bjarne Lie in Verdane believes oil-related venture investment is collapsing and that software will continue to eat the world.

Verdane is a leading Nordic investment advisory group, whose funds have close to EUR 1.8 billion in committed capital. At the Venture Capital Conference 2020, Managing Partner Bjarne Lie will talk about Verdane’s approach to value creation.

In your opinion, which main trends characterize venture capital in 2020?

– Software will continue to eat the world. For Norway specifically, I expect a continued rise in vertically focused, ‘industrial grade’, solutions leveraging IOT/AI and other hyped technologies to create tailored solutions to international niche market

Is the Norwegian market good enough and big enough? Does Norway have enough promising start-ups to invest in?

– The entire innovation ecosystem is built on a promise that nothing is ever good enough. Having said that, the Norwegian market has come a long way over the last few years. My hope is that 2020 will be the year when even more exciting start-ups progress to become true metrics driven scale-ups, able to effectively absorb nine-digit NOK funding rounds.

Software has been the most important sector in venture the last decade, do you believe that this trend will continue? If not, what do you think will change?

– Measured by capital flows that is true, but in terms of societal impact new digital consumer offerings have arguably have been more important than software as venture themes over the last decade. I think we will increasingly see more capital-intensive models, where software and delivery platforms combine to reshape industries in an even more profound way than we have hitherto seen. Just witness how much capital has been required to provide a full-fledged Norwegian online grocery.

Money is flowing into ESG-concentrated and sustainable companies at the stock-exchange, do you experience a similar trend in venture?

– We are already seeing it, and I expect the trend to accelerate. The (hopefully) short term challenge is that so many of the companies are still struggling to establish a clear product/market fit and/or a scalable and sustainable business model.  

Are investments in oil-related venture-cases decreasing?

­– I would not say decreasing, but rather collapsing.

Do you think Covid-19 will change the venture landscape in a meaningful way?

– I have been through two iterations of collapse in venture capital investment levels (post .com and post the GFC), and a couple of months ago I was bracing myself for a third round. Since then I must admit I have been completely baffled by the complete disconnect between the valuation levels and investor risk apetite financial markets and the dire straits of the real economy, so at this point I do not dare to make any predictions.

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Facts about Bjarne Lie:

  • Serves as Verdane’s Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer.
  • In 2003, he launched what later became Verdane, by leading a spin-out from Verdane’s predecessor firm Four Seasons Venture.
  • At Verdane, he has been instrumental in building companies such as Banqsoft, Chipcon, ResLab, Resman, Reslink and Wireless Maingate. He currently serves on the boards of EasyPark and Polytech.
  • In addition to his role at the helm of Verdane, Bjarne is the Chairman of the Nordic Microfinance Initiative and a Board member of the Norwegian Venture Capital Association.

Facts about Verdane:

  • Specialist growth equity investment firm that partners with ambitious Northern European tech-enabled businesses to help them reach the next stage of their international growth.
  • Established in 2003.
  • Based in Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Oslo and Stockholm.
  • Concentrating investments to category leaders active in five sectors of the economy that are supported by structural growth trends:
    • Advanced industry
    • Consumer internet
    • Enterprise software
    • Energy & resource efficiency
    • Financial services

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