Many firms in Iceland had to sit back and watch as the country’s largest banks sucked away talent from regular companies. In recent years, there were stories of engineering firms having difficulty recruiting engineers who just graduated since the banks snapped them up right away. Today banks are smaller than in the past, which is allowing other businesses to employ more of the talented and highly educated people of Iceland.
The CEO of the Icelandic biotech firm SagaMedica, Thrainn Thorvaldsson says that things have changed now and regular firms are more competitive. He continues by saying that entrepreneurial companies are even seeing new investors again.
SagaMedica, researches Icelandic medicinal herbs and produces dietary supplements from them. These are used, for example, in cases of asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, and frequent urination.
Iceland’s economy may be struggling, but regular Icelanders are trying to find new ways to fend for themselves and their families. Innovation centres have been formed in many towns and the low value of the Icelandic krona helps exporting companies.
Since last fall, publicly run Innovation Center Iceland has overseen the opening of six new incubator centres which have led to the creation of 140 jobs. This may not seem much, but in terms of per capita it would amount to roughly 140,000 jobs in the United States.
With unemployment on the rise, innovation centres have sprouted in many Icelandic towns. There, entrepreneurial and degree-wielding people come together and work toward forming new companies in Iceland.
“We are seeing tremendous interest in innovation in Iceland. We have had that before, but now external circumstances drive people towards creating their own opportunities. They simply can’t rely on the same things as before,” says Andri Kristinsson, head of Innovit which is a privately run entrepreneurial incubator in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik.
With exciting companies being able to compete in salary, one would expect Icelanders to flock into more diverse sectors of the job market. Who ever said that banking was fun, anyway?