In the last five years, turnover in the IT sector in Iceland has grown by a total of 60%, almost double the growth of other parts of the Icelandic economy, which for the same time period was 32%.
The IT sector is also steadily growing as part of GDP, where its contribution has increased from 2.3% in 2010 to 4% in 2014. Based on that growth, the IT sector’s contribution to GDP can be expected to reach the size of fishing and aquaculture, currently at 4.9%, in the next couple of years.
“We’ve noticed that members of the industry generally aren’t aware of how big the Icelandic tech industry has become,” Ragnheiður H. Magnúsdóttir, President of SUT, the Federation of IT Companies in Iceland, told Norðurskautið. “We’re optimistic that now that we know how big the industry is, we’ll focus on making the ecosystem for startups and tech companies even better.”
Results of a survey by the Federation of Icelandic Industries, that surveyed Icelandic IT companies about sentiment in the IT industry, shine a light on these numbers: All but one of the respondents expect to hire more, or many more people to their IT companies in the near future. This coincides with record numbers of students signing up for computer science and software engineering majors at Icelandic universities.
These numbers echo the same shift internationally, as news from the US stock markets suggest, about Facebook ($FB) overtaking Exxon Mobil as the 4th biggest company in the United States by market cap, where five of the ten biggest companies are technology companies (the others are Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon).
As Norðurskautið has extensively covered, the Icelandic startup scene has in the last year been bolstered with more venture capital than available before in the form of two brand new funds. In addition, Iceland’s government increased funding to the public grant system focused on technology and innovation by 71%, reaching record highs of 2.4 billion ISK (~$18.5 million) to be granted this year.
These newly available funds, as well as international interest in Icelandic technology companies, led to a record year in Icelandic venture funding in 2015. Number of investments reported more than doubled and the total amount rose by over 1,500%. Last year also included two public exits when DataMarket was acquired by Qlik and Modio was acquired by Autodesk.
It’s not only the startups that have made their mark, but incumbent companies have been successful globally as well. Tempo, a plugin for Jira, one of the biggest project management systems for software development, was spun out of TM Software after internal development to make Jira more useful for the company. Their products are now used by companies all over the world, including Disney, Amazon and eBay. The company had $2.25 million dollars in sales in Q1 2015 and has shown staggering double-digit growth in recent quarters.
Recent news of CCP’s relationship with Oculus Rift, the biggest player in the VR space, which includes CCP’s game, Eve: Valkyrie being bundled with all pre-orders of Oculus Rift headsets, and QuizUp’s partnership with Glu Mobile, a global leader in mobile gaming, most famous for their Kim Kardashian megahit, hint at the possibilities looming in Icelandic gaming.
It’s evident that Icelandic tech is growing fast, with inflows of capital, a growing number of people seeking skills in IT and a positive sentiment in Icelandic IT companies. The future definitely looks bright.