The story of NordicNinja

The Fund

NordicNinja team


  1. Hungry for innovation. It’s 2017. Japan has a budding startup ecosystem, yet not big enough to feed the market’s hunger for digital innovation. With a successful Japanese footprint already in Silicon Valley, Japan sets its eye on Europe.
  2. JBIC, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, embarks a journey to shake up the traditional corporate culture in Japan, and set up a pilot venture fund in Europe, to invest in the most promising technology companies.
  3. Enter the New Nordics. Countries huddled around the Baltic Sea have proven themselves as a hotbed for technology innovation. The Nordic and Baltic countries in particular have unparalleled performance both in a number of startups and capital performance per capita. Their Silicon Valley can-do attitude combined with a Japan-Esque pursuit of quality and data ethics makes it a perfect place to start a new deeptech fund.
  4. Pilot partners. In addition to JBIC, three global Japanese powerhouses join forces – Panasonic, Honda, and Omron – and NordicNinja is born, headquartered in Helsinki. BaltCap, the largest private equity fund in the Baltics, joins as a local general partner to set up operations in the region.
  5. Landing in Helsinki. It’s one of the coldest days of the year in February 2019. Tomosaku Sohara, Shinichi Nikkuni, and Makoto Shiono relocate their families from Japan; Marek Kiisa and Claes Mikko Nilsen join the team locally from Estonia and Finland.
  6. Bringing talents home. Rainer Sternfeld relocates from Silicon Valley, Jesse Saarela from Finland, and Ryo Ota from Tokyo. The founding team is complete.

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