Unikie gains speed as a software technology developer of autonomous vehicles

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The founder and CEO of Unikie, Esko Mertsalmi

The CEO and the founder of Unikie, Esko Mertsalmi, believes the international expansion of the company continues.

Unikie, a Finland-based software technology company has raised €12 million from CapMan Growth and Tesi to speed up international expansion. Unikie develops software technology platforms for autonomous vehicles and employs more than 300 highly skilled software engineers. In 2019, Unikie’s turnover was €26.9 million and the estimated turnover for 2020 is €35 million. About one third of its turnover comes from international markets.

In a digitalizing world, technology developers define the course of development. Software technology company Unikie is one of these pioneers. The core of Unikie’s operations can be found at the intersection of intelligent vehicle and communication technologies. Competences such as artificial intelligence, sensor fusion, information networks and data security offer a unique competitive edge for the company.

“Ever since the company was founded, we have focused on global technology platforms by investing in technology development and international sales. Starting the international operations right in the beginning has been central to later development. Now, our customers include German car manufacturers, market leaders of heavy machinery and the top operators of technology developers in the fields of information networks and data security,” says Esko Mertsalmi, Unikie’s CEO and founding partner.

The five-year-old Unikie is now moving to the second stage of their growth, striving towards a major break-through on the international market. Vehicle technology, including information networks and data security, is going through a major transformation globally. This enables Unikie’s growth path, as the company is ready to invest in quick establishment of an international sales organisation as well as in technology development.

“We will stand out in this digital revolution, thanks to our extensive technological competence basis, in particular. Our competence includes embedded development, device and edge processing combined with IT systems, and the data security solutions that crosses them all,” Mertsalmi highlights.

In the beginning of November, Unikie announced that it would change its CEO as a part of its growth strategy. Seppo Kuula, an experienced business manager and Doctor of Technology will start in his new leadership role in early 2021. According to Mertsalmi, building Unikie’s future from here on out requires a more systematic approach to operative management, and Kuula has proven experience of building and scaling business in growth companies of new technology as well as agile culture guidance of large, international operations. Moving forward, Mertsalmi himself will focus on developing Unikie’s business operations through his new role in the company’s board.

Growth equity to ensure the annual growth of over 30 % also in the future

Unikie has invested more than €10 million in its own technology platforms, and the plan is to make another investment of similar size in the coming years.

“The company’s growth rate and, on the other hand, the attraction of international markets are natural grounds for raising capital. To maintain our international growth, we are looking for a high-quality financier to ensure the annual growth of over 30% also in the future, both through increased capital and additional competence,” Mertsalmi says.

CapMan Growth and Tesi were inspired by Unikie’s story and sees that the company has the potential to grow into an international technology company.

“We have kept an eye on Unikie’s growth for a while now. The desire for scaling up internationally through technologies is in line with our own values. The entrepreneur-driven team and the great success stories of certain international lead customer relationships made an impression on us, says Juha Mikkola, CapMan Growth’s managing partner.

“We prepared this investment round for two years, and went through serious considerations of how we want to do it. Our negotiation with CapMan took a year and a half. During this time, we got to know each other and were able to create a growth strategy that suits us both. A strong, Finnish consortium will also enable additional funding in the future and ensures a strong growth basis for the company,” Mertsalmi says, explaining the grounds for choosing CapMan and Tesi.

The funding the company received will be primarily allocated to strengthening international sales and marketing. Another focus area is to develop product management and the company’s product range to support the current technology platforms.

“We believe that the company is in a good situation, and it has all the necessary prerequisites to build a truly international and notable software technology hub of vehicle industry and telecommunications sector in Finland. This funding helps us ensure our positive international development and enables our strategy to materialize,” Mertsalmi says, shedding light on the company’s future plans.

 

Further information:

Esko Mertsalmi, CEO, Unikie Oy, tel. +358 400 675 918, esko.mertsalmi@unikie.com
Juha Mikkola, Managing Partner, CapMan Growth, +358 50 5900522, juha.mikkola@capman.com
Joni Karsikas, Investment Director, Tesi, +358 40 827 0395, joni.karsikas@tesi.fi

 

Unikie, established in 2015, is a technology company specialised in demanding device-edge-cloud-based software. Its main segments are car industry, smart machinery, industry 4.0 and telecommunications. The company’s spearhead is Unikie AI Vision, a comprehensive automatic driving (AD) solution that can be scaled to the global market.

Unikie is the third fastest growing technology company in Finland with operations in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Poland and the United States. The company’s next goal is to achieve a turnover of €100 million based on Unikie’s expertise and the strong demand for technology solutions. Unikie’s clients include brands such as Sandvik, Nokia and Valmet.

CapMan Growth is the leading Finnish growth investor. Their new growth investment fund makes significant minority investments in growth stage companies with ambitious growth and expansion goals. Unikie is the fund’s second investment. CapMan Growth is part of CapMan, a leading Nordic private asset expert with an active approach to value creation. As one of the Nordic private equity pioneers, CapMan has developed hundreds of companies and real estate assets and created substantial value in these businesses and assets over the past 30 years. With over €3 billion in assets under management, the objective is to provide attractive returns and innovative solutions to investors. CapMan has a broad presence in the unlisted market through local and specialised teams. The investment strategies cover Private Equity, Real Estate and Infra. capman.com

Tesi (Finnish Industry Investment Ltd) is a Finnish state-owned investment company that wants to raise Finland to the front ranks of renewing economic growth by investing in funds and directly in companies. We invest profitably and responsibly, hand-in-hand with co-investors, to create the world’s new success stories. Our investments under management total 1.6 billion euros. Ambition for ownership and success tesi.fi | @TesiFII