In a bold and visionary move, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia envisions a future where Denmark and the Nordic countries join forces to create their own Silicon Valley.
Strengthening the Nordic ties
The ambitious plan was unveiled during Kaja Kallas’ visit to Denmark, marking one of her first foreign trips since the elections. The prime minister aims to strengthen economic ties between Estonia and Denmark, emphasizing the need for collaboration and reinforcing the region’s start-up culture. During the trip, Kallas met with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, delivered a keynote address at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, and spoke at the Estonian-Danish business seminar.
Addressing a crowd at the Estonian-Danish business seminar, Prime Minister Kallas highlighted Estonia’s vibrant and dynamic business environment, known for its openness and flexibility. She stressed the importance of nurturing a robust start-up culture, which has become an integral part of Estonia’s economic landscape. “In Estonia, today, our flagship companies are unicorns. By our own count, Estonia has generated 10 unicorns and continues to produce the highest number of start-ups per capita in Europe”, Kallas acknowledged.
The emergence of Nordic Tech Valley
Kallas proposed a different approach to building a better future — one rooted in collaboration. Rather than competing against one another, she urged the Nordic-Baltic region to unite and build the new Silicon Valley, aptly named the “Nordic Tech Valley.” With a combined population of 33 million and generating approximately 2% of the global GDP, the region has the potential to attract substantial investments from third markets.
“The Nordics and Baltics had very similar views of let’s-go-faster, whereas there were other doubts in other countries. I think this our strength and we should use this strength to build something so that we can be competitive as a region in the global market”, she stressed.
Kallas also visited Skylab Incubator, an innovation hub and incubator located at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Lyngby. Focused on supporting projects related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), with a particular emphasis on deep technology and hardware-based startups, it is designed to support and foster entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology development.
Kallas’ visit to Copenhagen was accompanied by a delegation of Estonian VC, academic, and startup ecosystem key players, including:
- Margus Uudam, partner and founder of Karma VC and Chairman of the Board at EstVCA;
- Kadri Lindpere, Managing Director at EstVCA;
- Mart Maasik, investment director at UniTartu Ventures and Head of Entrepreneurship at Tartu University;
- Eve Peeterson, Head of Startup Estonia;
- Cristobal Alonso, CEO of Startup Wise Guys;
- Sille Pettai, fund manager at SmartCap;
- Henri Räim, Deputy Head of Global Business Development at Estonian Investment Agency.
There were keynotes, panel discussions and workshops around topics such as what can the Nordics do to keep scaling companies in the region. The Danish Technical University visit gave insight into their technology transfer systems and Mart Maasik shared the vision of UniTartu Ventures and Tartu University.
The rising deep tech startup ecosystem and VC scene needs a more cross-border approach and the business seminar in Copenhagen tried to explore opportunities of cooperation. The aim is to share best practices, create smoother tech transfer models and joint programmes, pool our strengths and resources to create a strong Nordic value proposition and become a talent powerhouse on a global scale. The Nordic Tech Valley concept is being modelled and designed together with Finnish, Swedish and Danish ecosystem players. The idea, started with the launch of cooperation report between Estonia and Finland and the Estonia-Sweden cooperation report.
The next landmark will be to discuss the common deep tech venture building challenges and opportunities at the Nordic Tech Valley Talks opening session in Tallinn 23 May, hosted by Startup Estonia, EstVCA and UniTartu Ventures, as part of the Latitude59 conference.
A strong security message
During her meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Kallas commended the strong defence cooperation between Estonia and Denmark. She expressed gratitude for Denmark’s role in NATO’s collective defence and its significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region.
“There are no worries of having a war on our soil. We have been a member of NATO for almost 20 years. Being part of this most successful defence Alliance in the world’s history ensures a secure environment, to do business, live and visit. So, we are very grateful for Denmark’s military contribution and other Allies,” Kallas added.
The prime minister also emphasized the importance of collaboration in energy security, citing offshore wind energy as a key factor in achieving climate neutrality. Estonia intends to deepen its cooperation with Denmark, drawing from its experience and expertise in this field.
With a bold vision for the Nordic Tech Valley, there’s a clear possibility of creating a thriving hub of technological advancements and economic growth. By pooling resources, knowledge, and talent, Denmark, Estonia, and the Nordic countries can build a future that embraces innovation and secures a brighter tomorrow.
Wish to compare Estonia’s business environment to that of other EU countries having a part in the planned innovation valley? Try out our brand-new comparison tool.