In Estonia, art, entrepreneurship ideas, and even artificial intelligence can blend together perfectly. Invest Estonia’s Hamburg office celebrated its 20th anniversary with a concert of Kristjan Järvi & the Baltic Sea Orchestra in Hamburg’s famous Elbphilharmonie concert hall. Riina Leminsky, Head of FDI & Business Development in the DACH region at Invest Estonia, used the opportunity for a new cooperation project between the Estonian and Hamburg AI communities, as Järvi’s latest project ‘Estoniia Muse’ is also linked to artificial intelligence.
A living legend
Kristjan Järvi is the “wild child” of the Järvi dynasty of conductors – son of the grand old Neeme Järvi and brother of the acclaimed classics conductor Paavo Järvi. He has been pushing boundaries of genres and senses since his early days. He found his distinctive musical language through countless collaborations with the Absolute Ensemble of New York, which combined classical music with hip-hop and jazz. He has created a new paradigm of multi-sensory performance experiences with his Sunbeam Productions team. Always eager to experiment beyond the imaginable, Järvi is now embracing AI and hoping to tame it to enhance human creativity while framing it deeply within the Estonian mindset.
Riina Leminsky explained that instead of individual software applications, today’s technology allows us to move to a single platform using artificial intelligence. Therefore, they found a match with Kristjan Järvi’s vision – the future of creativity being online and collaborative, where everyone can contribute. Leminsky said: “Already today, Estonia is proactively pursuing these three directions (collaboration, internet, AI). This will make us the most digital and, in the future, the most creative country in Europe. Estonia has given a completely different view of what a truly human-centred society means for digital citizens. And what makes it unique is the fact that, with e-Residency, almost every citizen, wherever they are in the world, can already be part of this digital society.”
Kristjan Järvi explained his ‘Estoniia Muse’ concept as follows: “It’s a creature of love and tenderness that embodies the wisdom of Estonian land and forest and helps the user of the app to discover their own genius.” His ambition is to create a global tribe of Estonia through the playful app and a whole universe attached to it. The app creature – ‘Estoniia’ – reflects the feelings of the user and simultaneously becomes the person of trust. It’s a digital journey of self-discovery and creativity.
Järvi’s ‘Estoniia Muse’ was created in collaboration with Hamburg and Estonian AI centres. It combines AI experiments with Järvi’s artistic approach to the digital forest. Järvi hopes the lovely creature will open up the inner child in its users.
“The long-standing ARIC Hamburg Collaboration with Enterprise Estonia has been nothing short of remarkable in fostering a strong connection between Hamburg, Germany, and Estonia. Thanks to Riina Leminsky, for several years now, this partnership has yielded numerous successful projects and investments from both sides, showcasing the power of international cooperation and co-innovation”, says Alois Krtil, CEO of ARIC – Artificial Intelligence Center Hamburg.
Estonia’s cooperation with ARIC goes back to 2020, when the cooperation agreement was signed. ARIC is an association of major technology companies, research institutions and the public sector in northern Germany, with the City of Hamburg, Lufthansa Industrial Solutions, Pilot as founding members and Airbus, Otto, Fieldfischer and others as members.
According to Leminsky, the cooperation aims to strengthen interregional cooperation in the field of technology, to bring foreign investments in the German technology sector to Estonia, to help Estonian technology companies find strategic partners and funding in Germany, and to develop cooperation between universities. It will also raise awareness of technology (opportunities and threats of artificial intelligence) in society.
Something beyond art
How does an art project fit into business-focused cooperation?
Riina Leminsky: The ‘Estoniia muse’ project is a great example of collaboration between technology and creative people, fuelled by faith and love for their country, nature and people. Art and society have always been linked. My contacts in companies are mostly management and strategic decision-makers. Often, they have no previous contact with Estonia, and it is not enough to present the economic/business benefits to create a positive feeling. It is important to create an emotion and a bond with Estonia and an understanding of our way of thinking. This can be done best through art. Creators are excellent ambassadors for any country, and their role in developing business relations, among other things, cannot be underestimated.”
Leminsky recalls a performance by Ewert and the Two Dragons in Hamburg many years ago, where she made a connection to a German business leader who ended up investing in Estonia and creating 500 jobs. After concert meetings with Arvo Pärt, Paavo and Kristjan Järvi have left some of the strongest impressions on the German business community, says Leminsky.
Looking back at her 20 years representing Estonia in Hamburg, Leminsky points to the broad range of economic and scientific cooperation between Estonia and Germany that has contributed to prosperity overall. Next to some major investment projects such as HHLA, Kühne+Nagel and Volkswagen, she holds some smaller ones closest to her heart, where there has been a wider impact on the local community, the creative sector or charity.
Leminsky considers the network of contacts built over these decades the most important thing for the benefit of Estonia as an economic and living environment, Estonian businesses and organisations. Her office is held in high regard with the German business community as responsive and caring.
Leminsky: “The challenge all these years has been to raise awareness of Estonia as a potential and interesting investment and business destination among German business leaders. Estonia’s flexibility and speed, curiosity to try new solutions on the one hand, and German industry and its tremendous capacity to invest resources in research and development on the other hand, are a very good combination, where great results are born out of cooperation.”
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