European company, global leader
Konttori grew up in Helsinki, just two kilometres away from where Varjo now has its headquarters. He played role-playing games like Shadowrun and read science fiction. “The book that influenced me the most in that period was William Gibson’s Neuromancer.” The cyberpunk novel follows a hacker who uses a device mounted onto his head to enter cyberspace. Sounds familiar?
Fast-forward 30 years later and fiction has become reality. Varjo is a global leader in virtual and mixed reality hardware and software. The company’s headsets offer the highest resolution in the market.
But it’s difficult to convince companies to buy something they can’t see. Because of the pandemic, the company struggled to demonstrate its solutions to new customers as trade shows got cancelled and client offices worldwide closed. At the same time, the demand for better remote collaboration tools peaked.
That’s when the European Investment Bank stepped in.
The European Investment Bank supported the company with €20 million in venture debt financing, approved under the European Guarantee Fund, which helps European businesses get through capture the pandemic and even grow. Venture debt is a quasi- equity investment, but it does not deprive a company’s founders of ownership.
“Our venture debt programme gives the European Investment Bank the possibility of directly supporting innovative companies in sectors that are strategically important for Europe’s future,” says Francisco Alves da Silva, a loan officer at the Bank.
That’s crucial for Varjo.
“We are a small company, but we are competing with industry giants like Meta, Google and Microsoft,” Konttori says. “The European Investment Bank financing allowed us to stay ahead and keep innovating.”