There’s a whole lotta creativity oozing out of this little island. You can see it in the way people dress, the art people create, the stories they write and the music they perform. The country regularly shows up on super important international lists, too, thereby confirming just how innovative and hard working Icelanders are. Iceland claimed the top spot on the Organization for Economic Co- Operation and Development’s (OECD) list of hardest working countries in 2009 and lands in the top 20 most innovative countries according to the IMF, OECD and UN generated Innovation Capacity Index (it’s number 14, to be exact).
Even naturally innovative and hardworking Icelanders (or transplants to Iceland) need a little guidance from time to time, though. Enter Hugmyndahús Háskólanna, also known as the Idea House, down on Grandagarði. Hugmyndahús Háskólanna’s director, Ingibjörg Gréta Gísladóttir, and her team have developed a six-week long program to assist all those with an innovative idea to develop it into a successful startup. “We are launching this workshop because we want people to work on their ideas,” Ingibjörg explains.
“We want people to start planning their ideas, stretching them and venturing outside the box to see what possibilities there are to work with their ideas.”
The workshops, which launch September 2nd, are open to the public and will also be recorded and streamed online for all those with great ideas who can’t make it out to Hugmyndahús Háskólanna in person. Technically, you don’t even have to register for the program to follow on along with the video workshops or attend in person. Interested aspiring entrepreneurs should probably register (by August 31) though, as it will afford them the opportunity to have their preliminary business plans reviewed and critiqued by myriad experts and industry leaders who have partnered with Hugmyndahús Háskólanna on this ambitious endeavour. Another perk for those who register: the chance to rake in a cool 500,000 ISK to develop that business plan into a real live start-up. Six of these business-helping funds are up for grabs by the most promising business ideas.
Like many small businesses in Iceland, Hugmyndahús Háskólanna is struggling and universities that run the Hugmyndahús Háskólanna are cutting costs. “With the climate today everybody has been wondering what they can do to help create new businesses and new opportunities for employment. ‘What can we do with this time that we have? What can we do with our own expertise?’” questions Ingibjörg.
“With so much unemployment and with so many students graduating from university there is even more of a push to ask what we can do to help out. Hugmyndahús Háskólanna has the space, we have the time, we have good will, so we found seven companies who might be able to partner with us to support the program and they were really eager to cooperate.” Ingibjörg encourages everybody with even an inkling of an idea to take part and feed off the creative energy and take advantage of having so many experts and resources at their disposal. Even the most basic of ideas may turn out to be something great with some hard work and innovation. “When you have an idea and you start it, you should have the freedom to make mistakes. Make your mistakes and learn from them. So take your idea and work with it. It will take you on a journey and that’s the whole idea with this workshop, that if you go full force and follow your idea as it changes and develops you might find yourself somewhere wonderful.”
For more information on Hugmyndahús háskólanna and these workshops have a look at www.hugmyndahus.is [Icelandic only].