Seed Forum Reykjavik

About Seed Forum in Iceland

The Seed Forum concept in Iceland was started in June 2004 with a MoU signed by Mr. Thordur Sverrirson on behalf of Nyherji and Steinar Hoel Korsmo on behalf of Seed Forum Global. This led to the establishment of the Seed Forum Iceland Foundation (Sprotahing Icelands) as an Icelandic NGO according to the same model as for the Seed Forum Norway Foundation. The discussion was ongoing during autumn 2004 if a Seed Forum event in Reykjavik would have a critical mass of investors.

The 1st Icelandic company, Simdex by Agnar Jon Augustsson, presented in the 2nd Seed Forum Moscow and the 1st Seed Forum In New York fall 2004. Since then more than 100 Icelandic start-ups, and many of them among the most famous ones from Iceland, has presented in Seed Forums in Reykjavik and many also in Seed Forums outside Iceland including SF London, SF Singapore, SF Shanghai, SF Oslo, and SF Stockholm. The presenters of these great Icelandic start-ups are all members of Seed Forum Iceland Alumni which is a part of Seed Forum Global alumni. This is today an extensive network with some of the most extensive, successful, and well-known entrepreneurs in Iceland.

The 1st Seed Forum investor event in Reykjavik was held in the 2nd floor conference center at Hilton Nordica on the 28th of April 2005. This 1st forum also included a company from Norway (Tidal Sails presented by Are Borgersen) which made this event the first of its kind in Iceland. This was the very first beginning to evolve an investor base to invest in Icelandic start-ups.

At this early stage of Seed Forum in Iceland there was no possibility to conduct pitch trainings for Icelandic companies in Iceland so all Icelandic companies which should present in Seed Forum in Reykjavik and overseas had to take part in prior pitch trainings in Oslo. This lasted until spring 2009 when the first fully fletched pitch training took place in the offices of KLAK in Reykjavik.

Already for the 1st event in Iceland some of the most important organisations in Iceland became partners as for instance Innovation Iceland (formerly the Technological Institute of Iceland), Reykjavik University, The Federation of Icelandic Industries, The City of Reykjavik, The British Embassy and the Norwegian Embassy. The British Ambassador to Iceland has hosted all evening receptions for all 20 Seed Forums so far in Reykjavik (first Ambassador HE Alp Memet, then Ambassador HE Ian Whitting and then Ambassador HE Sturt Gil). The Norwegian Embassy represented by the Ambassador of Norway (first HE Guttorm Wiik, then HE Dag Wernö Holter, then HE Cecilie Landsverk) has hosted the networking lunch for most Seed Forums in Reykjavik.

The cooperation with the City of Reykjavik has been extensive with many evening receptions in Hövdi since the first forum in 2004. The evening events has typically firstly been the evening reception hosted in the Residence of the British Ambassador followed by the reception in Hövdi in total 9 times. Since 2011 the alternative to Hövdi was the evolvement of Late Night Seed Forums at Restaurant Reykjavik. This since the forums was always on a Friday. While Seed Forum and the evening reception has aimed for start-ups and investors is Late Night Seed Forum Reykjavik aiming at a much wider audience from the whole innovation system.

The 2nd Seed Forum Reykjavik was hosted at Hilton Nordica in the big event hall on the 28th of October 2005 and kindly opened by the President of Iceland, HE Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. As the event was opened by the President this gave a great boost forward for the whole Seed Forum concept in Iceland. Ever since this 2nd event all Seed Forums in Reykjavik has been on Fridays which has made the Reykjavik event a special case in the Seed Forum world. We are also honoured that President Grimsson came to participate in a special event related to Seed Forum New York in Scandinavia House in Mid-town Manhattan on the 15th of November 2005. The President was on meetings in New York and could amend his program on a short-time notice to attend Seed Forum New York.

From 2006 the venues of Seed Forum in Reykjavik have been Loftleidir Hotel (spring 2006), Decode Genetics (autumn 2006, and since spring 2008 in the big auditorium of Arion Banki (formerly Kauphting Bank).

A special happening in the story of Seed Forum Iceland was also on the 26th of June 2006 when the President of Iceland presented Seed Forum as a concept to the President of The Japan Federation of Industries (Nippon Keidanden) as well as the Ambassador of Japan and 21 CEOs of great Japanese companies at Bessastadir. This did not fortunately lead to further cooperation with Nippon Keidanden but is a major milestone in the Seed Forum global development. Seed Forum was represented by Jon Helgi Egilsson and Steinar Hoel Korsmo during the meeting and preparations had been ongoing for several weeks.

Seed Forum and Sprotathing Icelands has followed the journey of Klak from the offices in the Nyherji building in Borgartun, to offices at the Reykjavik University and finally to offices at the University of Iceland. And through the process of the University of Reykjavik taking a share of Klak to the merge with Inovit to Klak Innovit to Icelandic Startups. From Mr. Jon Helgi Egiilsson as the first Seed Forum Country Manager in Iceland, to Dr. Andri Ottosen, to Eythor Jonsson, to Kristian Kristjansson to Salome Gudmundsdottir. And mainly with Maria Torgeirsdottir as responsible during most years for local operations in Reykjavik.

It has been a great story to witness the growth of Seed Forum also through the period of downfall of the Icelandic Economy. The 8th Seed Forum in Reykjavik at Kupthing Bank was the 3rd of October 2008 – also known as black Friday for the Icelandic Economy. From when the forum started at 9 am until the forum ended at 11.30 the Icelandic currency had fallen more than 50 % of value. It was very difficult to run a motivational innovation forum in Reykjavik on such a day. But after great discussions it was the option to continue the Seed Forum process as a continuous contribution to the Icelandic economy that won. Though it was a very difficult situation to witness the development and then downfall and de-motivation of a whole nation form the outside. But the continuation of Seed Forum in Iceland all the way through the years of difficulties has made many Icelandic entrepreneurs succeed.

It is also interesting to witness that from a situation of very low capacity and interest in the ecosystem in Iceland for investment in start-ups, Seed Forum Iceland has presented foreign start-ups in all Seed Forums in Reykjavik from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, UK, France, and the UK. And Seed Forum Iceland has also been an arena for education and national motivation for entrepreneurship. Many famous international key-note speakers have attended Seed Forums in Iceland as for instance CEO Geir-Ove Kjesbu of the Norwegian National Investment Fund Investinor, CEO Joachim Krohn-Höegh of the Norwegian national investment fund Argentum, CEO Karsten Höy of Greenland Venture, Vce-President Torkel Ystgaard of SIVA (The Norwegian Federation of Industries) etc. Also many famous international entrepreneurs has given key-notes in Seed Forum Reykjavik as for instance the founder of Opera Software Jon con Tetzchner as well as many prominent representatives of Icelandic innovation, politics and business – as for instance Ministers of Trade and Industry, Mayors of Reykjavik etc. As well as the forum has twice been opened by President Grimsson – fall 2005 and the 15th forum anniversary in Arion Banki on the 13th of April 2012.

Seed Forum management in Iceland:

2004 – 2006Jon Helgi Egilsson
2007Dr. Andri Ottosen
2008 – spring 2013Dr. Eythor Jonsson
Autumn 2013 – spring 2014Kristin Kristjansson
Autumn-2014 – 2015Salome Gudmondsdottir
2016+Jon Helgi Egilsson

Current board members of the Seed Forum Iceland Foundation:

  • Jon Helgi Egilsson, chariman of the board
  • Bjarki Brynjarsson, board member
  • Stefan Örn Einarsson, board member
  • Steinar Hoel Korsmo, board member

Venues for Seed Forum activities in Iceland

  • Seed Forums in Reykjavik:
    • Hilton Nordica Hotel
    • Hotel Loftleidir
    • Decode Genetics
    • Arion Banki (previously Kaupthing Bank)
  • Seed Forum pitch trainings:
    • Klak innovation Centre
    • University of Reykjavik
    • Innovit Klak Inovation Centre, University of Iceland

Various prominent representative has given key-notes and opening remarks in Seed Forums in Reykjavik as for example:

  • President of Iceland, HE Olafor Ragnar Grimsson
  • British Ambassador HE Alp Memet
  • British Ambassador HE Ian Whitting
  • British Ambassador HE Stuart Gil
  • Ambassador of Norway HE Dag Wernö Holter
  • Ambassador of Norway HE Cecilie Landsverk
  • CEO of Argentum, Joachim Höegh-Krohn
  • CEO of Investinor, Geir-Ove Kjesbu
  • Vice-President of the Industrial Corporation of Norway (SIVA). Torkel Ystgaard
  • CEO of Venture Greenland Karsten Höy
  • Chair of Iceland Federation of Industries, Svana Helen Björnsdottir
  • CEO of New Business Venture Fund Iceland, Helga Valfells
  • Founder of Opera Software, Michael von Tetchner
  • Minister of Iceland for Trade & Industry, Regnheidur Elin Anadottir