Estonia is a unique and modest place located in the north-east corner of Europe. In square kilometres we are 6% larger than the Netherlands but, by population, we have nearly 13 times fewer people within the same area. This means we can afford a minimal public sector apparatus. We also must continuously explore and develop smart (digital) solutions and find opportunities for export while focusing on quality and a seamless user experience.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that Estonian public sector is behind most of the world’s digital success stories including digital signature, e-elections, digital prescription and many others. These solutions helped us to survive Covid-19 waves, experiencing minimum losses in service and quality within the public sector. Digital society is our secret, but we do not only talk about it – we live it!
In respect to digitalisation, the Estonian construction sector has been a slow starter. Six years ago, in 2015, a number of principles within the sector understood the need for a common organisation and digital platform to discuss what was desirable and on what terms it was wanted. But policy makers couldn’t identify a single partner able to represent the diversity of companies across the sector. Out of this deficit, the Estonian Digital Construction Cluster was formed.
Today our cluster consists of real estate developers, architects, engineers, builders and manufacturers, facility managers, universities and building industry IT companies, in fact, all the stakeholders of a construction lifecycle that offer knowledge-based construction solutions. We began with frank and challenging roundtable discussions between our cluster members and the government, based upon a common goal to create better built environments.
We dug deep in order to thoroughly understand the entire process and critical links between each stakeholder; to identify which factors are crucial to a successful project. And we came up with the Estonian approach to creating an excellent built environment, including first and foremost a smart and purposeful use of data for efficient construction and facility management. We are now able to use data throughout the whole building lifecycle. We live in an era of information overload, so differentiating between crucial data and mere noise is also a necessity.
Secondly, we concentrated on the belief that transparent and comprehensible design process must involve all stakeholders and focus on end users. Making the process easily understandable to non-engineers helps detect risks faster and on time.
Thirdly, we committed to lowering environmental costs and carbon footprint of buildings and built environments. We achieve that through a variety of simulations during design phase and constant learning and piloting, including the all-important circular economy principle in construction.
Within short time there are some notable success stories out there and the construction permit process has become 100% digital and 100% BIM-based. This will soon foster yet another success story – the partnering of digital spatial planning databases with processing systems that can add, modify, validate design elements. Soon we will be able to process spatial planning fully-digitally and much faster.
In June 2021, the Estonian government approved “Construction sector development long plan 2035”, drafted in a collaboration between the public and private sectors. Digital Construction Cluster was one of the key partners in this initiative and will be one of key players in implementing the next steps in this policy “war plan”.
When we think of export, we can be proud of our factorial houses – wood, class and concrete based modular and element houses that are very popular in Scandinavia and Central Europe. Scalability and growth hacking is in our veins. Estonia is #1 in Europe in number of unicorns per capita. The Digital Construction Cluster is supporting this by organising and partnering in a range of hackathons and meetings with Venture Capitalist. We’ve developed pitching and recognition initiatives for students who touch upon digital construction bottlenecks in their graduate theses.
We’ve initiated a transformation of construction companies to shadow innovations in the IT sector, to streamline our growth and development. Want to know more about the many ways we could contribute to your projects? Don’t hesitate to get in touch. We will help you create an excellent built environment with a minimal carbon footprint! Last but not least, we will also help you to succeed in getting your citizens to trust e-solutions. See more here.
Are you interested in investing in Estonia? Send us a request for personal e-Consulting and one of our investment advisors will get in touch.