The Nordic App Economy: frontrunners facing challenges ahead

On Friday 8 June, Copenhagen Economics unveiled its latest study, co-commissioned by the Developers Alliance, on “Jobs in Apps: Mobile Economy in the Nordics. A Catalyst for Economic Growth”.

The study was presented at the IT University of Copenhagen to a room full of tech entrepreneurs, students, developers, and policy-makers.

The presentation of the study was preceded by a week-long series of small-scale roundtables in Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen where my colleague Rachel Emeis and I had the chance to learn more about the flourishing app developers market in the Nordics.

According to the Copenhagen Economics’ research, the Nordics are leading the way in Europe, creating more jobs in the app economy than any other region. In total, they generate 145,500 jobs in the sector and have the potential to double those numbers by 2021. Quite impressive for a relatively new industry.

At the events we attended, we had the chance to hear from Nordic app superstars such as Finnish Seriously, Swedish Truecaller and Danish Too Good to Go and Vivino about how they have been able to take advantage of the global App Economy boom in a very positive way and are contributing to the creation of a growing and vital tech sector.

A key takeaway from all of the discussions is that Nordic tech companies need to scale globally from the start in order to compete on the worldwide app market. As the Copenhagen Economics study shows, the Nordic countries are outpacing the EU app intensity average and on the heels of Silicon Valley. While they have experienced and are projected to see growth, the app economy evolves quickly and the Nordic countries must create an environment that allows them to keep pace. 

In particular, the regulatory landscape, both at the national and international level, has a great influence on the potential of growth of the App Economy. Policy can and should create the right conditions to ensure developers can easily start new businesses and remove all barriers to smooth access to an efficient and non-fragmented global market.

The US has done well growing its app economy for several reasons, all of which are possible because of a very business-oriented approach by policy-makers, especially compared to other markets, and in particular when it comes to access to venture capital and monetisation.

When it comes to the EU, there have been various attempts to create a more enabling regulatory environment, with the biggest policy initiative being the Digital Single Market Strategy. But regulators need to avoid restrictive initiatives on the market that could cause fragmentation and lack of compatibility across devices, which could hamper developers easy access to the global market.

Another important concern that emerged from the roundtables was about harbouring and recruiting top talent both amongst engineers and developers as well as supporting roles like marketing across all countries the Alliance visited. Additionally, there is a growing need for long-term capital investment so that Nordic entrepreneurs can scale their businesses globally.


Director, European Policy & Government Relations