Entrepreneurship is booming in Iceland today

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In focus: Some policies, schemes and grants available for entrepreneurs in Iceland

What was our impression of Iceland? It was the land of ice, volcanoes, glaciers and elves – all of which are still considered very “real” by many.

The scene is very different. The country had gone through an economic collapse which accelerated an unusual response from the government. The Icelandic economy experienced a meltdown in 2008. But, out of the struggle emerged an attitude to base the economy on ‘creating’ instead of financing, and a case study for entrepreneurship was born. And, Iceland is remaking an economy through entrepreneurship.

To elaborate, the Icelandic economy is extremely diversified and the startup culture is very strong. There is support and interest from the government for startups, and there are many opportunities too, for businesses to get started.

Here are some policies, schemes and grants available for entrepreneurs in Iceland.

> National SME & entrepreneurship policy framework

SME&E policies in Iceland are defined as part of larger strategy and policy framework. “Iceland 2020”, for eg, is the country’s policy statement that is directed at creating an efficient economy and society; it includes policies open to the business community, across a number of dimensions such as digitalization, innovation, trade and investment. The new Economic Activity Plan (EAP) for Iceland aims at facilitating the foundation and operation of companies through simplified regulation, plus a strong, easily-to-cruise innovation environment, including a focus on the needs of SMEs.

https://www.oecd.org/cfe/smes/Iceland.pdf

> Startup Iceland

Startup Iceland was founded by Bala Kamallakharan, an entrepreneur and investor. Startup Iceland is seen as a resource for entrepreneurs, and the founder feels that when the population is as low as that in Iceland, society looks at automation seriously. Following which, this is what makes the tech scene vibrant. Their agenda is to build a sustainable entrepreneurial eco-system through best practice tools and advice for Iceland.

https://www.linkedin.com/company/startup-iceland/?originalSubdomain=is
https://startupiceland.com/
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/iceland-needs-indian-
techies-entrepreneurs/articleshow/99139440.cms?from=mdr

> Funding and grants: Innovation Center Iceland

Innovation Center Iceland is an important link in supporting environment for innovation in Iceland. Elaborating on the activities offered, specialists at Innovation Center Iceland can mentor entrepreneurs and small businesses (on possible routes for financing) at the first stage of implementing their business ideas. So, Innovation Center Iceland oversees allocations from several funds, in addition to possessing detailed information on other funding sources.

Specialists at Innovation Center Iceland possess a wealth of information on Nordic and European grants. Please contact Enterprise Europe Network for further information at een@een.is.

https://www.nmi.is/en/starting-a-business
https://national-policies.eacea.ec.europa.eu/youthwiki/chapters/iceland/39-start-up-
funding-for-young-entrepreneurs

> Access to Funds

It is indeed a real fact, that entrepreneurs in Iceland have abundant access to funding opportunities for their start-up.

>> Action for Job Creation is a funding scheme by the Ministry of Industries and Innovation with the aim of supporting the early development of innovative ideas that could potentially receive further funding from funds and/or investors in the future.

>> The Tech Incubator (TINC) project is available for Icelandic start-ups that want to prove their business model and the potential of their product with less risk and less cost.

>> The Technology Development Fund, hosted by the Icelandic Centre for Research supports individuals, universities, business enterprises and public institutions conducting research and development activities, which aim towards innovation in Icelandic industry.

>> AVS R&D Fund of Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture in Iceland, is a fund that supports research and development projects implemented by individuals, universities and business enterprises that aim to increase the value of fisheries.

Icelandic entrepreneurs can also apply for funding through European projects such as the Horizon 2020 – The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and Eurostars, a funding programme for small and medium sized start-ups involved with research and development projects.

https://national-policies.eacea.ec.europa.eu/youthwiki/chapters/iceland/39-start-up-
funding-for-young-entrepreneurs

> Grants for women’s employment

Most importantly, grants for women’s employment are awarded once a year, but they are intended for women who are working on a business idea or developing a project. The goal is – to increase women entrepreneurs’ access to capital.

Reference is also made to the law on the equal status of men and women, but there specific actions to equalize the status of men and women are authorized, you may visit:
https://www.althingi.is/altext/stjt/2020.150.html

In recent years, around 40 million has been allocated to various projects around the country. Incidentally, not only have these grants often made a difference to the projects, but they are also great encouragement to those, who are taking their first steps in business.

The grants are awarded by the Minister of Social Affairs and Children’s Affairs, but the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Administration is in charge of their administration.

Source: https://atvinnumalkvenna.is/styrkir/
Other Links:
https://www.government.is/topics/foreign-affairs/iceland-in-europe/eea-
grants/partnership-opportunities-in-iceland/

https://www.invest.is/incentives-and-support

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