New road ahead— Reykjavík


Instead of focusing on the political malaise caused by the collapse of its economy in 2008, Iceland’s close-knit and talented community – led by a new, grounded prime minister – is returning to old values, and reworking them into new opportunities.

Iceland, Economy

Wondering how the Vikings are getting on in post-crisis Reykjavík? One recent February night, more than 50 Icelanders in bathing costumes and woollen hats dived into the bitterly cold sea at Ylstrondin Natuholsvik, one of Reykjavík’s public beaches. Many swam for several hundred metres, some all the way around the distant buoy bobbing on the icy water. They then ran the 200m back to the clubhouse and jumped into a 38C geothermally heated swimming pool, where they spent the next hour or so chatting. Pool rules: no talk about the economy.

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Rising stars

CCP the Icelandic games company behind the hit Eve Online had a record year in 2009.

Hafmynd sold seven of its unmanned underwater vehicles in 2009 to the Portuguese, Spanish and US Navies and offshore oil companies.

Orf Genetics is a world-class biotech company that in 2009 invented a breakthrough technology for the scientific research community that uses barley grains to produce proteins, bypassing the normal use of bacterial or animal cell systems.

FiskeFelagid is a fish restaurant that opened last summer and is fully booked every night because of its cosy vintage design and traditional Icelandic food.

Carbon Recycling International’s breakthrough is seen as a new direction for renewable fuel. Made with carbon dioxide waste from geothermal plant industrial emissions, it is converted into methanol that can then be blended with gasoline for use in cars.

Elm Design is a 10-year-old womenswear firm that sells in Iceland, Europe and the US. It saw a 20 to 30 per cent sales increase last year.

Össur maintains a strong position in the global orthopaedics market. In 2009 CEO Jon Sigurdsson won Iceland’s businessman of the year, the second time in a row.

Kaffi Midja opened in the middle of recession and is considered to serve the best coffee on the island. It has a cosy design, with vintage furniture and a record player, and also sells coffee to seven select clients (including top restaurant Dill). The café gets its coffee direct from a Colombian farmer.


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