Estonia has a two-decade track record of successful innovations and investments thanks to its smart people and a unique environment that enables the accelerated development and commercialisation of IP.
|Smart people with entrepreneurial spirit and determination.|
|World class IT skills across a range of disciplines and sectors.|
|Startup ecosystem creates pipeline and accelerates best opportunities to global scale.|
|Investor friendly mentality and business environment.|
|Track record of successful IP development, commercialisation and exit.|
Estonia has a two-decade track record of successful innovations and investments which have delivered outstanding returns for founders, VC/PE, and Corporate investors.
Estonia’s journey began in the 1990s when Estonian engineers developed and scaled Skype using ingenuity and determination. The subsequent exit of Skype provided invaluable experience, capital, and policy stimulus to create one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Numerous Estonian early-stage companies including Wise, Skeleton Technologies, Adcash, and Pipedrive have secured venture capital and private equity from global investors. Corporate venturing such as Daimler AG’s investment in Starship Technologies and Didi Chuxing’s and Daimler AG‘s in Bolt also grows. Exits including Planet OS, Zeroturnaround, GrabCAD, and Teleport provide proof of concept.
What drives Estonia’s success? Smart people with world-class IT skills and Europe’s best entrepreneurial and competitive performance. A pro-business environment with digital infrastructure ideal for innovation and testing. Our compact domestic market makes us open to global ideas, growth, and investment.
Estonian Founders Society helps to boost the local startup community, strengthen direct relationships between founders, meet face to face in a social setting, share experiences and empower new young founders. The role has evolved from purely networking organization to a wider representation of startups in Estonia and beyond.
Further success can be expected thanks to a strong pipeline of growth companies; high innovation in areas such as IT, industry, consumer, agriculture, financial services, and active government support. From Seed to Series E, across a range of sectors and deal sizes, Estonia offers investment opportunities supported by a trustworthy environment and solid track record.
Estonians are pathfinders with a truly digital mindset and have built an efficient, secure, and transparent business ecosystem for international investors. Today, 99% of public services are online and there are over 100 AI use cases live in public services. The government has switched over to a real-time economy and it takes only 15 minutes to establish a company and 3 minutes to file taxes.
Today, Estonia has the most startups, unicorns, and VC investments per capita in Europe. It is globally known as the top ecosystem for fast-growing tech startups. By the end of 2022, Estonia has produced 10 unicorns and the local community aims to have 25 unicorns by 2025. The vibrant startup scene is home to nearly 1500 startups. During 30 years of operating in a free market environment, Estonia has become among the top 10 innovators in the EU, surpassing all Eastern-European and Mediterranean countries.
The new growth area is deep tech startups where the government and the ecosystem have set clear goals and action plans. Estonia has developed regulatory frameworks to ease establishing and running a startup, investing in technology enterprises, or raising funding.
Estonian startup success story is not a local game – the tech companies get validated by global top VCs such as Sequoia Capital, Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Atomico, Insight Partners, and others. 2021 showed that 94% of capital in local startups came from international VCs. Top industries include business process software, cybersecurity, AI, and electronics. Some of the local VC players include deep tech fund Karma Ventures, digital tech fund Tera Ventures, and deep tech fund Superangel. New upcoming open funds that are looking for partnerships are the 100 MEUR climate impact & ESG fund by BaltCap, 100 MEUR defense innovation fund by NATO, and 100 MEUR deep tech fund by BaltCap jointly with NordicNinja.
Estonia has a clear VC legislative environment with low red tape and efficient procedures. The local VC scene has a strong competitive advantage with low CapEx and OpEx costs for European-orientated VC funds. This includes low registration fees, regulator personalized approach with advisory services, and low OpEx such as wages and rent.
Estonian e-Business Register together with progressive pro-business legislation is an ideal way to manage your investments and funds overseas without travelling to Estonia. The unique e-Residency card allows the signing of business contracts, legal acts, employment contracts, and board meeting protocols, and for example, online meetings are legally acknowledged types of annual board meetings. In Estonia we value time, transparency, and technology – so travelling to manage your investments and operations in Estonia is not necessary. For 9 consecutive years, Estonia has been recognized as the world’s best tax system with no corporate income tax on reinvested and retained profits. The ecosystem is progressively guided by the Estonian Angel Investors Association and Estonian Venture Capital Association.
A limited partnership fund is an investment vehicle designed primarily for closed-end collective private equity and venture capital investments, following the best practices from jurisdictions such as the UK, Luxembourg, and Jersey. The AIFM directive in the EU provides favorable licensing exemptions for small fund managers below EUR 100M allowing the creation of loosely regulated Estonian limited partnership fund structure with local or foreign LPs contributing capital to the fund for investing into targets. LPF is not considered a taxpayer with no tax on retained or reinvested profits.
A list of required documents is available here and all the information regarding applying for operating licenses can be found here.
Risk capital success stories in Estonia include:
Starship Technologies – Daimler AG, Wise (Series E) – various, Skeleton – First Floor Capital, Jobbatical – Mistletoe, Zeroturnaround – Bain, Pipedrive – various
Grabcad – Stratasys, Planet OS – Intertrust Technologies, Zeroturnaround – Rogue Wave Software, Teleport – Move Guides, Fitsme – Rakuten.
These websites can be useful when interested in Risk capital investments in Estonia:
You are also welcome to send us a request for personal e-consulting to obtain more specific information.
Estonia is a cashless society with over 99% of financial transactions occurring digitally. Electronic ID and Blockchain are widely used in FinTech applications. 80+ FinTechs ranging from innovative startups such as Wise to Blockchain leader Guardtime make Estonia a global centre of excellence for FinTech.
Estonia is the world’s most digitally enabled nation, offering a unique combination of talent, environment, and innovation. Our IT R&D ecosystem enjoys global proof of concept, being trusted by global organisations such as Kuehne+Nagel and NATO and producing unicorn startups like Wise and Bolt.
Estonia has a sizeable food industry which benefits from ecological raw materials, skilled workers and modern production facilities. With an established export capability and growing application of food science and technology, Estonia is the ideal location for export and R&D oriented investment.
Estonia is not only a pioneering digital society, which has found convincing answers to the challenges of digitalization, but it also is a very green country. There is a strong societal and political will to utilize the capabilities and ecosystems. These have been developed to tackle the challenges of decarbonization of the economy and to become once again a leading player – in CleanTech and GreenTech.
The most advanced cyber security country in Europe, Estonia has unique expertise in the research, development and management of cyber security solutions and systems. Home to NATO CCDCOE, Guardtime and Malwarebytes, Estonia is trusted to keep the digital economy safe.
Defence systems have always been a focal point for Estonia. The country has built a small but very capable defence army consisting of a professional army, conscription service, and national defence league, complimented by NATO allied forces. Over the years technology entrepreneurs and engineers have teamed up with the army to develop world-class solutions for the global defence industry. When we mean defence, we mean business.
Estonia is an emerging hub for global e-commerce activity. World-class IT skills have created numerous e-commerce applications and are supported by leadership positions in enablers such as online trust, payments and digital logistics.
Metaverse is the parallel universe or a unified universal virtual world, facilitated by the use of virtual and augmented reality headsets. In addition to the fact that existing products and services can be transferred to the Metaverse, it achieves a completely new economic environment and opportunities to create and market products and services that are unique to the Metaverse. Simply said, Metaverse has no limits in Estonia.
With over 90 captive, BPO and ITO centres, Estonia is an established location for finance, IT and customer services and has a growing expertise in supply chain, HR and process automation.
Estonia developed X-Road, its proprietary decentralised, distributed system in 2001 and has utilised Blockchain since 2008. World-class technical skills supported by practical experience implementing public and permissioned Blockchain’s place Estonia at the forefront of the emerging Blockchain economy.
Patient records in Estonia are digitised and secured by the Blockchain, providing a single immutable data source for healthcare professionals. With a unique digital platform and collaborative ecosystem, Estonia is positioned to lead on preventative medicine, patient self-treatment and industry efficiency.
With a highly-qualified workforce and strengths in engineering, electronics and IT, Estonia is at the cutting edge of R&D, production and service for mechatronic solutions with embedded software.
Estonia is the most effective supply chain hub for the Nordic and Baltic regions thanks to its strategic location, modern infrastructure, multi-modal capabilities and reliable but flexible approach.
Estonia has a diversified energy sector which comprises long-standing expertise in oil shale, a sizeable renewables sector and growing CleanTech capability. World-class expertise within a highly digital, pro-business environment will see Estonia play a leading role in the energy revolution
Estonia has a collaborative ecosystem for Industrial R&D including academia, accelerators and competence centres. Supported by world-class expertise and a highly competitive, digital environment, Estonia is the ideal location for Industrial product and technology R&D.
Estonia has one of Europe’s largest bioeconomies, including world leading expertise in forest-based activity. Supported by high-quality natural resources, ultra-high use of IT and supportive policy making, Estonia offers a range of production and innovation opportunities.
Estonia has a niche capability in the design and engineering of hardware and software solutions for intelligent transportation, urban planning, tourism and smart homes. Advanced digital infrastructure, skills and consumer adoption provide the ideal R&D testbed.
Estonia’s marine sector specialises in the design and build of small and medium-sized commercial and leisure vessels. Centuries long expertise, cutting-edge application of IT and a flexible approach make Estonia a competitive location for innovation and export-oriented production.
Estonia has an export-oriented Chemicals sector benefitting from a full value chain and world-class skills in oil shale, rare earth metals and petrochemicals. Our pro-business environment is competitive and trustworthy, with digitalisation applied to deliver new capabilities.
Estonia has a full value chain for R&D, prototyping, and production of precision components and complex systems, and is trusted by ABB, Ericsson and the European Space Agency.
Estonia has a two-decade track record of successful innovations and investments thanks to its smart people and a unique environment which enables the accelerated development and commercialisation of IP.
What is it like to run a business in Estonia? How to benefit from the e-solutions and the efficiency of our business culture? What are the opportunities in specific sectors? Who to partner up with?
The Estonian Investment Agency’s team is happy to help you via its complimentary e-Consulting service, organize online or offline follow-up events such as virtual investment visits and guide you through the fairly simple process of investing in Estonia.