Will Iceland emerge as a decarbonization superpower? Find out at the Climate Tech Summit
Richard Ellis
Richard Ellis

Almost every major economy is trying to decarbonize while achieving greater independence in food production, energy generation, and industry. While superpower economies would presumably have an edge in this transition, it turns that smaller, nimbler countries are leading the way. This year at the SOSV Climate Tech Summit (Sept 26-27 / free & virtual), we showcased Iceland, a frontrunner in energy independence and industrial climate tech. 

Best known for its spectacular scenery and erratic volcanoes, Iceland tops the charts for clean energy production per capita. Impressively, the country sources 85% of its energy from domestic geothermal power (65%) and hydropower (20%). That’s why climate tech unicorn Climeworks, a direct air capture company featured in last year’s Summit, has deployed its technology in Iceland. 

We’re honored to have had Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of Iceland since 2021, join the panel. Born in 1990, Sigurbjörnsdóttir became the world’s youngest ever Minister of Justice when she was appointed in 2019. Now, Minister Sigurbjörnsdóttir is facilitating the entry of climate innovations with fast regulatory approvals. She aims to lead Iceland from a resource-based economy to a key implementer and global exporter of climate innovations.

Joining her on the panel was Iceland-born David Helgason, founder of game engine Unity Technologies (NYSE: U, valued at over $15 billion), who recently launched Transition, a global climate tech fund based in London and Reykjavik which has already announced nine investments. Its sister company, Transition Labs, helps climate tech startups scale and deploy in Iceland. Transition Labs’s early projects include Running Tide, a startup growing seaweed to sequester CO2 in the oceans, and Noya, a direct air capture startup. 

Like Singapore (featured last year), Iceland illustrates that vision and leadership matters more than size in the effort to decarbonize and reshore industries. Could Iceland join the shortlist of carbon-negative economies and become a global sink for emissions? 

Icelandic investors, entrepreneurs, and politicians are collaborating to build the world’s best proving ground for climate tech. To learn how, catch the full session—and all other sessions from the Summit—here.

Ben Joffe, Partner at SOSV and co-curator of the Summit, moderated the discussion. 

Learn more about the Summit.

The Speakers

Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir photo

Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir

Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir was appointed Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation in Iceland in 2021. She was previously the Minister of Justice from 2019-2021. Born in 1990, Ms. Sigurbjörnsdóttir is the youngest female minister appointed in Iceland‘s history and the youngest Minister of Justice ever appointed in world history. As Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Ms. Sigurbjörnsdóttir has made it her mission that innovation becomes Iceland‘s biggest export.

David Helgason photo

David Helgason

David Helgason is a climate tech investor at Transition and spends his time searching for solutions to global warming and its nexus of interlinked crises. Many years ago he founded Unity and remains on the board. His background is in programming, many unfinished degrees, creating companies, and helping entrepreneurs.

Ben Joffe photo

Ben Joffe

Ben Joffe is a Partner at SOSV and co-curator of the Summit. He is considered a global thought leader on deeptech innovation and ecosystems. Benjamin is a reformed mechanical engineer who turned to strategy and worked in China, Japan, and South Korea across telecom, mobile, gaming, hardware and deeptech.

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