It’s over! The sound of the final whistle got us jumping out of our seats screaming our lungs out of joy and excitement, hugging the person standing right next to us. Some were laughing, others crying, all celebrating. Did Iceland really just beat England in soccer at the Euro 2016!? The unity of the entire nation during the tournament, echoed in the daunting viking chant, left me so proud and fired up that no words can describe.
I’m not going to lie, bringing an investor I met abroad, to this very moment when asked why he should bother coming to such a small country as Iceland in his search for the next big thing, was kind of a kick, and it made total sense.
Despite the fact that Iceland is a nation of only 330,000 people, some of the world’s leading companies have been founded in this small country. We have been the birthplace of a disrupted field of prosthetics, global leader in analyzing and understanding the human genome, cutting edge technology for the food processing industry, and currently considered to be the cradle of virtual reality development to name a few.
I’m often asked what it is with Icelanders? How do you top all scales, have some of the best athletes in the world, world famous musicians, and blaze the trail in gender equality? It must be something in the water, right?
Well, the secret ingredient remains a mystery. However, we do have great universities, and fairly high level of education. We enjoy the Scandinavian welfare state and a high standard of living. Entrepreneurial mentality, strong creative industry, and close proximity and access to industry experts create an advantage too. Due to the geographical location of Iceland, we rely heavily on international networks, transport and communication, with 98% of all homes connected. Furthermore, electricity is produced almost entirely (99,8%) from renewable energy sources (there’s an opportunity!).
While economic growth is projected to remain strong, the Icelandic startup scene is getting more mature, dynamic and dense. We are seeing the second generation of entrepreneurs emerge, fueling the next one, with increased startup activity across various sectors.
The types of companies that have received the most funding from investors recently include Health & Biotech, Gaming and VR, Enterprise Software, Entertainment and Media, and now we’re seeing some exciting developments within the food industry. Companies to mention are CCP Games (VR), Marel (food processing), Össur (prosthetics) and DeCode (genetics).
With an established role of fostering the grassroot of entrepreneurship in Iceland our main focus at the moment is to continue building bridges between Iceland and global leading startup hubs, primarily through strategic partnership with other Nordic startup community leaders. That approach has already proved to be a key success factor when it comes to internationalisation, and raising attention among international investors and media.
Interested in learning more about the Icelandic startup scene? Visiting Iceland? Drop me a line. My team and I would love to welcome you, and introduce you to some of the most prominent startups of the country!
8 Facts about Icelandic Startups:
- Icelandic Startups is the largest private startup community organization in Iceland.
- 700 new ideas were submitted into our various programs in 2016, out of which we foster approx 40 each year.
- Host up to 200 events a year.
- Founder of Slush Play.
- Runs three accelerator programs (tech & creative industries, energy, tourism).
- 2,300 ideas have been submitted into our business plan competition, The Golden Egg, since its start in 2008, including some of the most notable and prominent startups in Iceland. Meniga (2009), Solid Clouds (2014), Platome biotechnology (2016), Videntifier (2008), Clara (2008, sold to Jive Software US for $1m in 2013), Controlant (2009).
- Have successfully raised the ratio of women founders in the business plan competition from 30% in 2015 up to 43,5% in 2017.
CEO of Icelandic Startups
Icelandic Startups is a non-profit organisation, and the largest private supporter of entrepreneurs and startups in Iceland. Their main role is to accelerate new businesses within and out of Iceland, and to connect entrepreneurs and startups to industry experts, investors and leading startup hubs abroad.