Iceland: a growing ecosystem full of potential

Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) announces today a report on the status of Icelandic startups in ICT (information and communications technology). The report focuses on companies that have raised a minimum of $1M in venture funding. SEP is a pan-European platform, established by the European Commission and Startup Europe and led by Mind the Bridge, that is dedicated to support the growth of European startups.

The report was written by Mind the Bridge (MtB), a Silicon Valley/European organization dedicated to technology scouting for large corporations. The report is mainly built on data from Norðurskautið (, a news site focused on the Icelandic startup-scene.

These are the key takeaways:

  • There are more companies that have reached the minimum funding to be classified as scaleups (>$1M) per capita in Iceland than elsewhere in Europe.
  • Venture capital funding in ratio to GDP in Iceland is the highest in the Nordics, according to MtB.
  • In the last five years, 15 companies have reach the size scaleup, and have raised a combined of $200M in funding (roughly 26 billion ISK). The average amount invested in Icelandic scaleups is $15M per company. All the funding was backed by venture capital funds. No IPOs fitting the report’s criteria and methodology were identified in Iceland.
  • 4 companies were acquired during the five-year period, including Clara, Modio and Datamarket. No domestic M&A transactions were recorded. Acquirers of Icelandic companies all come from abroad. Two companies were acquired by US firms, one by a Swedish firm and another by a Chinese company.
  • Reykjavik is the most relevant scaleup hotspot in Iceland. 14 out of 15 all Icelandic scaleups are based in the capital city.

“Iceland shows 5 scaleups every 100 thousand people, the highest number we found in Europe thus far – commented Alberto Onetti, Mind the Bridge Chairman and SEP Coordinator And 1.3% of the GDP has been invested into Icelandic scaleups via venture capital: a number that is a lot higher than any other European country.”

The purpose of the report is to monitor the status of venture funding in Iceland and compare to other countries in Europe. It is evident that Iceland, along with the other Nordic countries, is doing well when it comes to the number of companies that have received large funding.

It is interesting to note that three companies named in the report, Plain Vanilla, CCP Games and Verne Global received 87% of the total funding covered by the report, and 12 companies split the remaining 13%. These numbers only include the IT sector.

“When we founded Norðurskautið last year, one of the goals was to make access to data about the Icelandic startup scene easier. This report shows that the Icelandic scene is growing, and we’re happy to help efforts like these that shine a light on all the activity in Iceland,” commented Guðbjörg Rist Jónsdóttir, Head of Research, Norðurskautið.