The founders of Samherji set up a new company to invest in innovation and create jobs in the Eyjafjördur region

Kristján Vilhelmsson and Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson with the trawler Kaldbakur EA 1 in the background…
Kristján Vilhelmsson and Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson with the trawler Kaldbakur EA 1 in the background. / Photos: Axel Thóhallsson/Thórhallur Jónsson/

Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, CEO of Samherji, and Kristján Vilhelmsson, the managing director of ships operations at Samherji, have established Drift EA for the purposes of fostering entrepreneurship and innovation within the Eyjafjördur area. The company will offer facilities and support to entrepreneurs and businesses to develop their ideas locally and internationally.

This year signifies the 40th anniversary of the acquisition of Samherji hf. and the transformation of the vessel Gudsteinn GK into the freezer trawler Aklureyrin EA. Since then, Samherji has had most of its operations at Eyjafjördur, in the north of Iceland.

Drift EA was founded to commemorate this milestone and as a gesture of appreciation to the residents and businesses within Samherji's operational area. The establishment of Drift EA aims not only to give back to the community but also to cultivate new enterprises and industries in the Eyjafjördur region.

Drift EA's activities will focus on projects in the fields of food production, health and medical products, biotechnology, software solutions for the fishing industry and green solutions. Drift EA will be based in the old Landsbanki building at Rádhústorg in Akureyri. The investment company Kaldbakur ehf., which is partly owned by the same parties, acquired the building in November last year.

In the lead-up to founding Drift EA, consultations were held with domestic and international partners across various innovation sectors. This collaborative effort will continue as the company progresses with its initiatives in the coming months.

Want to create new future jobs in Eyjafjördur

Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson emphasises that Drift EA's primary focus will revolve around projects aimed at advancing value creation and cultivating future business growth within the Eyjafjördur area.

"We have always based Samherji's headquarters in Akureyri, operated the company's vessels from here and built well-equipped processing houses in Akureyri and Dalvík. Now we want to create fertile ground for innovation in this historic building at Rádhústorg in Akureyri and thus further support the development of the economy in our local community," says Baldvinsson.

A symbolic project

Kristján Vilhelmsson says that Drift EA's activities will primarily aim to develop projects in Samherji's main area of operation.

"The story of Samherji is essentially the story of an entrepreneurial and innovative company. We wanted to commemorate the 40th anniversary in a symbolic way and, by doing so, contribute to new stories of this kind being told here in our hometown. This December, exactly 40 years have passed since the vessel Akureyrin EA 10 embarked on its first fishing trip. The goal is for the old Landsbanki building to become a centre of innovation here in the Eyjafjördur area," says Vilhelmsson.

The goal is for Drift EA to commence operations in the first half of 2024, and the company's priorities will then be presented in more detail.