Fostering Innovation Ecosystems in Rural Iceland

A R&D project in collaboration with researchers, universities and entrepreneurs.


Our societies are subject to perpetual change driven by digital and technical innovation. This project aims to develop adaptable tools for remote and rural communities in Iceland to take advantage of these changes, as life and work is affected by automation of industry, increased connectivity and digitalization of all parts of life.

Increasingly, economic development has become knowledge driven and dependent on innovation and creativity, and less on traditional labour intensive industry and resource extraction. Often, cities are seen as leaders in this process with the country-side assuming the role of catching up and hoping to become “as advanced” as the urban areas. In Iceland, available data indicates a big gap in the level of innovation activity between the capital region and the rest of the country.

The aim of this project is to turn the tables in this regard. Instead of approaches that see rural areas try to react to change with a defensive mindset, this project investigates what actions rural communities can take to turn emerging trends and recent developments to their favor by regarding change as an opportunity rather than a threat. The project is grounded on two feet: First, the most recent critical research on regional development in Iceland and on a global level, and second, the practical experience of innovators and entrepreneurs in remote and rural areas in Iceland and world-wide.

The project’s aim is the development and identification of new tools in collaboration with local actors in the form of organisations, events, digital platforms and more to positively develop a community of innovation in remote and rural areas. These will be shared in open blueprints modelled after real-world experiments. The blueprints will distill the most important lessons that can be practically extended and adapted by remote and rural communities, supported by scientific research, with the practical and theoretical informing each other.

Supported by Iceland's Strategic research and development program 2020-2023. 

Project board

Fieri Board