Startup Social

Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre

The objective of Snjallræði: Startup Social is to provide individuals, NGOs and companies with a platform to develop their social innovation ideas and find ways to make them sustainable. The ideas must have a clear and positive social impact and support one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. Startup Social is open to all ideas in all stages, from fresh thoughts to developed projects and businesses.

What is Startup Social?

Startup Social is a 16-week incubator that supports strong teams that are passionate about solutions to contemporary challenges and supporting the UN's sustainable development goals. There can be solutions relating to health care, welfare technology, improved education systems and gender equality, for example.

Startup Social was founded by Höfði Peace Centre in 2018 and has been run five times since its inception. The growth space is in collaboration with MITdesignX, is the focal point of the workshops where MIT experts come to Iceland and share their knowledge. Participants receive access to education and training from domestic and foreign experts in the field of social affairs and innovation, and meetings with experienced mentors.

The goal of the growth space is to promote innovation that addresses contemporary challenges and is thus an important platform for community start-ups. The focus is on promoting sustainability in innovation and building start-ups that directly support one or more of the UN's global goals from the first steps.

Here you can view the teams that took part in Startup Social in 2023

Here you can view the teams that took part in Startup Social in 2022

Here you can view the teams that took part in Startup Social in 2021

Here you can view the teams that took part in Startup Social in 2019

What is social innovation?

Social innovation involves utilizing the methodology of innovation and design thinking to tackle societal challenges and build systems and solutions that include benefits for people and the environment and therefore for society as a whole.

Does your idea belong in Startup Social?
  • Startup Social supports teams that underpin sustainability in their core business and want to lead important social change.
  • Innovation is welcomed at all levels, from fresh ideas to advanced innovation projects and businesses.
  • Startup Social is open to diverse teams, NGOs and companies that want the opportunity to develop their own ideas and find a sustainable pathway for them.
What can Startup Social offer you?
  • 16-week program in collaboration with MIT designX
  • Access to networking and advice from a strong team of mentors and experts in the field of social affairs, the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and Innovation
  • Facilities in Gróska, a welder of innovation in Vatnsmýri
  • Training from foreign and domestic experts in social innovation, e.g. from MIT, University of Iceland, Reykjavik University, University of Akureyri, Iceland Academy of the Arts and the City of Reykjavík
What do you get out of participating in Startup Social?

The teams involved in Startup Social get to participate in four two-day workshops in Iceland hosted by Svafa Grönfeldt and her colleague from MIT designX. The workshops take place every four weeks, but in between, the teams are guided by the most skilled experts in Iceland to further develop the solutions. The workshops are thematic and address different aspects of the development process, from needs and stakeholders analysis, design of a sustainable business model, pine making losses and budgets to networking and conduct.

MIT designX Sprint


The Startup Social program in 2023 takes place every other week. The MIT designX workshops are four. In between the workshops, Reykjavik University, the University of Iceland, the University of Akureyri and the Iceland Academy of the Arts will host workshops. In addition, participants meet the mentors four times over the course of the period and participate in various events.

September 1-2: Understand

What problems are being solved and who will benefit from the solution?

Emphasis on:

  • Needs analysis
  • Market segmentation
  • Stakeholder map
  • Deconstruction

September 15: University workshop one

September 28 – 29: Solve

What is the solution and what are the benefits of it for stakeholders?

Emphasis on:

  • Mission design
  • Value proposition
  • User journey
  • Rapid prototyping

October 13: University workshop two

October 26-27 : Envision

What do we want to achieve, and what values are the basis for decision-making?

Emphasis on:

  • Vision design
  • Founder’s values / negotiations
  • Sustainable business model 
  • People and partners

November 10: University workshop three

November 23-24: Execution

What is the best way to implement, scale it and finance it?

Emphasis on:

  • Action plan
  • Budget
  • Financing History
  • Pitch

November 30: University workshop four