Iceland: a relatively small and young scaleup ecosystem in Europe, but quite effective in producing fast growing companies.

Our recent research confirms that the Nordic countries are without a doubt an innovation powerhouse in Europe. In the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), 430 scaleups have been able to cumulatively secure over $6.5B in investments. That places the Nordics at a similar level of investment as Germany.

Iceland is a relatively small and young scaleup ecosystem in Europe, but it seems quite effective in produc- ing fast growing companies. SEP recorded 15 scaleups in Iceland, which raised around $200M combined. This accounts for approximately 4% of all Nordic scaleups and 3% of capital raised. It might not seem like much, but factoring in Iceland size (Iceland is around 1.5% of the population of the Nordics), these numbers are quite impres- sive. Iceland has seen 5 scaleups for every 100,000 people, which is the highest ratio of the 11 European countries we have analyzed so far.

Data about Icelandic startups and their funding from before 2015 are not easily available, since systematical gathering of investment data for the Icelandic ecosystem wasn’t started before that time. That means there’s some risk of missing data points in the report. One of Norðurskautið’s goals is to provide access to data about the Icelandic startup scene, and with time, the data will become more detailed, reliable and accurate. Having good data is important, especially when cross-border initiatives like the SEP reports are made and distributed, so reports paint an accurate picture of the state of affairs.

That being said, Iceland shows potential and activity in the startup scene. We’ve seen several notable exits in the last years, and increased interest from both Icelandic and international parties. Iceland has had more capital available to startups in the last two years than ever before, and entrepreneurs are increasingly active in raising money from outside the country as well. While Iceland may not be a globally recognized startup hub yet, the ecosystem is definitely on its way there.

Alberto Onetti
Chairman, Mind the Bridge
Coordinator, Startup Europe Partnership

Guðbjörg Rist Jónsdóttir
Head of Research, Norðurskautið