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Estonia is looking for its next unicorn from space

A world leader in unicorns per capita, Estonia doesn't consider even the sky as the limit and is now looking for a new unicorn from space.

Estonia has a world-class track record in building unicorns. So far, Estonia has been the birthplace of seven unicorns: Skype in 2005, Playtech in 2007, Wise in 2015, Bolt in 2018, Pipedrive in 2020, Zego and in 2021. That’s 5.3 unicorns per capita. And it makes Estonia a world leader in unicorns per capita.

Andres Sutt, the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology said at a recent ministerial meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Porto that in the coming years a new Estonian unicorn would probably be born from the growing space industry.

Minister Sutt was certain that Estonia can offer an important added value to the European space program and its space industry, especially in the cyber field. This is supported by the fact that Estonian companies have developed secure space data exchange applications which are of critical importance in determining the experience of the digital state. Estonia’s space policy and program until 2027 defines three main focus areas: cyber security, artificial intelligence and innovation.

“If we look at the growth of the space industry over the past couple of years, we can see that it is a sector that is growing fast and where future unicorns will definitely be born,” added Sutt. Over the last three years 50 percent of active satellites have been moved there by SpaceX, illustrating the growing share of the private sector in space.

“It is important to ensure the continuity of space data and services. It would be an opportunity to our companies for implementing their cyber security or machine learning technologies in the space industry. Estonia can share its skills on the development of public e-services with ESA and thus help bring space technologies closer to people,” said Sutt. “If we want to see a rapid growth of the space industry, we need to show what we do in space and how space technologies can improve our lives. It is especially important to inspire our young people to think big and learn science.”

At the meeting, the Director General of ESA, Josef Aschbacher, outlined the new directions for ESA which are a green future, a rapid crisis response and the protection of space infrastructure. These directions fit well with Estonia’s activities in the field of artificial intelligence and space cyber security.

Additionally, Minister Sutt met with David Parker, head of the ESA astronaut program, to examine how ESA’s search for a new astronaut is progressing. Next year, ESA will select 4-5 new astronauts and 15 reserves. There are also seven Estonians among the candidates.

The objective of the meeting of the government ministers in charge of space activities is to provide guidance to ESA on how to prepare new ambitious programs for 2022 that will ensure Europe’s competitiveness in space.

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