New Technology Investor and Seed-Stage Venture Capital Fund Established in Finland

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Finnish Industry Investment and Etera as key limited partners in new Conor Venture Partners fund.

Conor Venture Partners Oy, a new Finland-based venture capital firm, today announced the formation of a new venture capital fund for early-stage technology companies. At first closing, the Conor Technology Fund I Ky totals 16 million euros.

The founding limited partners of the fund are Finnish Industry Investment Ltd, a government-owned investment company; Etera Mutual Pension Insurance Company; and industrial holding company Atine Group with its affiliates. The final closing of the fund will take place during 2006, with a target size of 50 million euros.

The new fund will begin operations immediately and make venture capital investments in early-stage technology companies in Finland, Sweden and the Baltics. Typical first investments will range from 0.5 to 1 million euros. Conor will focus on information and communications technology, embedded systems, semiconductor technology, electronics, new materials and optics.

The Conor partners are Pekka Roine, Juha Ruohonen, Manu Mäkelä and Sami Ahvenniemi, with Atine Group as a founding minority shareholder. The partners have a solid venture capital background and a deep understanding of technology entrepreneurship. The team has technology vision, and broad experience in structuring, strategy, internationalization, and networking.

Mr. Pekka Roine will serve as Conor's Managing Partner. The Conor team is supported by the ConorSeniorAdvisor network of experienced executives as well as the ConorCompetencePool network of specialized advisors for high-growth companies.

"To date, early-stage venture capital has not been particularly profitable in Europe, while in Silicon Valley the highest returns come from seed stage investments. The major factor accounting for this difference is that US-based VCs invest much more time and hands-on work into developing their portfolio companies," said Pekka Roine, Managing Partner, Conor. "Conor is now introducing this intense model of seed funding to Finland and the Baltic Sea area. We recognize the most promising start-ups and forge winners out of them through close, effective collaboration."

"An important responsibility for Finnish Industry Investment Ltd is to increase the venture capital offering for early-stage companies. The market still has a niche for a new venture capital fund, and Conor has a strong investment plan," said Juha Marjosola, Managing Director, Finnish Industry Investment Ltd. "By investing half of the initial capital of the new Conor fund, we wanted to ensure the launch of this fund now."

"Etera wants to invest in Finland and help create growing, successful companies. Early-stage technology companies are a challenging investment area, and there is a clear demand for Conor's active business concept," said Ilona Karppinen, Portfolio Manager, Etera.

"Investment companies must be able to provide growth companies not only with capital, but also with deep business expertise, and Conor's experienced partner team is poised to lead Finland's innovation field to the next level. As Atine is an active industrial investor working closely with its portfolio companies, this collaboration is a natural step for us," said Alexander Ehrnrooth, President and CEO, Atine Group.

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Further information:

Conor Venture Partners Oy, Pekka Roine, tel. +358 400 400 660,

Finnish Industry Investment Ltd, Juha Marjosola, tel. +358 9 6803 6811, + 358 50 62 636

Etera Mutual Pension Insurance Company, Ilona Karppinen, tel. +358 10 553 3790, +358 50 361 0858

Atine Group Oyj, Alexander Ehrnrooth, tel. +358 9 6122 340, +358 400 816 116

About Conor Venture Partners Oy

Conor Venture Partners Oy is a new breed technology venture capital fund and management company. Conor invests in early-stage companies originating from Finland, Sweden and the Baltics. Investment areas include information and communications technology, embedded software, semiconductor technology, electronics, new materials and optics.

About Finnish Industry Investment Ltd

Finnish Industry Investment Ltd is a government-owned investment company administered by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The company invests in the growth and internationalization of Finnish companies. The investment capital is generated from the proceeds accrued from the privatization of state-owned companies. Finnish Industry Investment Ltd is the leading seed capital investor in Finland. Its investments and investment commitments amount to EUR 330 million.

About Etera Mutual Pension Insurance Company

Etera began operations as a mutual employment pension insurance company in 2003. Its predecessor was the LEL Employment Pension Fund established in 1961 to provide pension insurance for employees in short-term employment relationships. Etera is currently the only company offering LEL and TaEL pension insurance in Finland. LEL insurance covers employees in construction, forestry, agriculture and harbour work, while TaEL covers artistic professions such as musicians, actors, journalists, photographers and cinematographers, in addition to some areas of periodic employment in the private sector. Etera insures approximately 250,000 employees in Finland. In 2005, the company paid a total of 800 million euros in pensions to 155,000 recipients. In 2007, Etera's operations will expand due to a new competitive situation following new pension insurance legislation in Finland.

About Atine Group

Atine Group is an industrial holding company whose strategy is to make majority and minority investments primarily in Finland-based small and midsized enterprises. Atine aims to increase the value of its holdings by being an active, hands-on owner and by active board participation. Atine Group revenues were 7 million euros in 2005, with net assets of some 14 million euros. The combined revenue of Atine Group companies was approximately 20 million euros in 2005.


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Christina Forsgard
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