With only one city over 100,000 people — its capital Reykjavík — 350,710-strong Iceland has four venture capital firms: NSA Ventures, Eyrir, Frumtak and Brunnur.

The VC firms usually close the fund each year which means there is a deficit of capital compared to the number of startups created, hence many startups go to the US or Europe in search of capital.

One of the country’s biggest startup successes so far are within media and gaming, such as CCP Games and Plain Vanilla.

1.7 million people visited Iceland in 2016, 3 times more than the number that came in 2010.


Why 5,000 Cities?

As of 2015, some sources reported the world had 4,037 cities with over 100,000 people.

India had 328 of them
Brazil – 300
USA – 295
Japan – 263
China – 209

Despite significant differences in methodology and huge gaps in data collection discipline between countries, one could assume — at some stage within our lifespans — the number of 100K+ cities will reach 5,000.

What does it mean for cosmopolitan innovators motivated by the idea of building a better world?

If you are in the same innovation manager shoes I have been finding myself in since I first became involved with my ever-growing R&D team in 2016, you constantly ask yourself about the most suitable innovation ecosystems you should ensure access to for your people. A big chunk of our daily activities in various cities is generating silo-free discussions about creation of agile talent training pipelines, sustainable university-to-industry flow of innovative solutions, information sharing about impact finance and investment targets, industry clusterization.

Talking to various incubators and co-working spaces across Africa, Europe, Asia and North America, I realize more and more how time-consuming and energy-draining it can be to identify the best fit for your team, their next product or service idea development.

Besides, startup incubators, clusters, techno & industrial parks and co-working spaces are no islands. They are part of a larger system: either in their cities or their regions (rarely a single cluster can be of relevance to a whole country — by which I mean one of 193 sovereign states that are members of the United Nations).

This realization brough me to an understanding that before placing your next startup or a star-studded team of researchers into one or several of the world’s 5,000 cities with a population of 100,000+ you should study the strategic development plan of that city, and perhaps even the region in which that city is located. You should also study the competitive advantage of that region as compared to other regions of the world: is it AI, blockchain, biochemistry, cybersecurity? What exactly makes them stand out in that area compared to competition in other clusters around the world?

Then look at the innovative companies that already work in that city, talk to their marketers at their networking events. Cut through the bs they try to feed you, see through their weak sides, offer partnership solutions that would help them, and thus, help you.

And as you do all this, remember some 100 million people that could fall back into extreme poverty by 2030 because of climate change.

It’s not about another million bucks of seed fuding for your innovative product anymore. Or all the hype that comes with it..

“We are the last generation that can mitigate climate change effectively. We are the first generation that has to live with its consequences.”


Andy Kozlov,

inspiring statesmen and stateswomen around the world

The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little — Thomas Merton