One of the quirkier tools used to examine the Purchasing Power Parity between two currencies has been the Big Mac hamburger, responsible for being the basis of The Economist’s Big Mac Index, which compares the price of Big Mac hamburgers in each country. It may be difficult, however, to apply the Big Mac index to Iceland’s króna, as the hamburger giant has pulled out of the country. Don’t pity Iceland, however. Fast Company’s Robert Walcott and Michael Lippitz visited Iceland in December, and are quite optimistic regarding its potential.

First off, they pointed out the original art they encountered there. Iceland’s natural beauty, coupled with public buildings, restaurants, and other locales displaying visually tantalizing artistry serves as a draw for tourists. Iceland is one of the top countries to watch for to see a substantially-rising tourism industry in 2010.

Next, they examined CCP Games, founders of Eve online, an online game where players are immersed in a virtual world. Currently, the game has 350,000 subscription-paying members worldwide. While this concept has been thrown around for awhile and has been successfully implemented by other gaming companies, CCP has almost exclusively focused on these types of games, and is currently developing more innovations in that realm of gaming.

Other subjects of the investigation included an orthopedics company, Ossur, widely-renowned worldwide, and a biotech company, Orf, a prime example of effective-yet-sustainable production, due primarily to Iceland’s abundance of geo-thermal energy. Geo-thermal energy is one of Iceland’s most plentiful natural resources, and they have turned it into a means of nearly-free energy. One of the byproducts of this type of energy is hot water, which has been used as a foundation by spas there to provide a relaxing experience.

The conclusion of the investigation shows a large number of ambitious, innovative companies in Iceland, as well as the natural resources and technological savvy to back them up. While Iceland’s financial industry may have gone to ruin, its innovative populace should certainly bring the country back from the brink of economic despair.

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