SHE Conference 2019

Ingrid Teigland Akay named Investor of the Year


Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB Scanpix
Ingrid Teigland Akay, managing partner at Hadean Ventures, was named Investor of the Year at the 2019 SHE conference.

Rasmus Falck

Ingrid Teigland Akay received the Investor of the Year Award at the SHE conference in 2019. Akay is the founder and managing partner at Hadean Ventures. The SHE conference is Europe’s largest gender diversity conference for “leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, politicians, students and business professionals,” held in Oslo annually. This year’s gathering is March 5.

The Investor of the Year title is awarded to a person “who has started a positive change, demonstrated big thinking and has shown good implementation capacity. The winner is a role model for her surroundings, and for all women with high ambitions.”

She was also selected as one of nine profiles of Inspiring Women in European private equity by Level 20, in connection with the coming International Women’s Day on March 8. Level 20 is a not-for-profit organization established in 2015 to ‘inspire more women to join and to succeed in the private equity industry.” In the year it was launched, women occupied around 5 percent of senior roles in the European venture industry. Supporting Level 20 are 46 private equity funds, which are all making efforts to improve the gender representation in their organizations.

Venture capital came to Norway in the 1980s. I had the pleasure of writing the first Norwegian Venture Capital Guide in 1985 for the Norwegian Confederation of Enterprise. In the early years, the funds were not invested in specialized areas but to generalists—people with good business background—and not necessarily startups. Today, the funds are directed toward more specialized ventures.

Hadean Ventures, Akay’s firm, is a European life sciences fund manager that invests in life science startups across Europe with a particular focus on the Nordic region. The fund is backed by leading private and institutional investors, including Saminvest and Argentum, the Norwegian state-owned private equity investor. Hadean has offices in Oslo and Stockholm and collaborates with world-class academic institutions and startup hubs across the region.

Last summer, the fund closed its first fund at NOK 725 million. It was also supported by U.S.-based fund investors. According to Akay, they were pleased with the strong support from investors. This was a vote of confidence in their strategy, focusing on regions of Europe with high potential within life science, yet very few specialized venture investors. She believes the fund is uniquely positioned to leverage this opportunity with an experienced team and a strong presence in the Nordic region.

The fund has so far invested in three startups, Stockholm-based specialty pharma company Attgeno AB, Trondheim-based ultrasound/deep learning medtech company Nisonic AS, and Lund-based SAGA Diagnostics AB, a player in the liquid biopsy arena.

At the closing, the CEO of Argentum Joachim Høegh-Krohn congratulated the fund. They had invested because they believe in the health sector’s growth potential and Hadean Ventures’ ability to “find and develop the startups that solve tomorrow’s health challenges.”

Akay, 41, holds a medical degree from Medizinische Hochschule Hannover in Germany, and an MBA with finance concentration from London Business School. She has a background in health care, consumer goods, and technology. Prior to starting Hadean Ventures, she served as a senior investment professional at London-based Inventages. As a medical doctor, she worked with general medicine and surgery. She is on the board of the Norwegian Venture Capital Association, and is married with two children.

As of today, the fund is the second largest venture fund established by a woman and is the only venture fund specializing in life science in Norway. She is poised to lead Norwegian life sciences out into the global market. Her advice to anybody who wants to work within life sciences is to get international experience. So, if you want to work within the health sector and innovation, travel and live abroad.

This article originally appeared in the February 21, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.