Estonia-Sweden Business Forum, hosted on May 3 during an official state visit of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.M. Queen Silvia to Estonia, highlighted a deep bond between the two countries and their shared commitment to a greener future. The Estonian government was represented by President of the Republic Alar Karis and Mrs. Sirje Karis, along with Estonian and Swedish ministers.
Building stronger ties
The forum took place at Tallinn Creative Hub. Aimed to showcase the strengths, challenges, and opportunities of the Swedish and Estonian business environments, it has opened with speeches delivered by the heads of state, President Alar Karis and H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf.
The king stressed the progress achieved in the Estonian-Sweden bilateral relationship since the last State Visit in 1992. “Today, Sweden and Estonia are close partners in both the Nordic-Baltic context, in Europe and globally. We also share common values such as democracy, the rule of law, and openness,” he pointed out.
“Sweden has long been one of Estonia’s most important trading partners. The fact that so many Swedish companies have established deep roots in Estonia over the past 30 years lays a solid foundation for further deepening our business ties,” said the Estonian Head of State.
Those remarks were followed by words from Tiit Riisalo, Minister of Economic Affairs and Information Technology of Estonia and Johan Forssell, Minister of Foreign Trade of Sweden. “Estonia may be small in size but is big in opportunities,” stated the minister welcoming more than two dozen Swedish companies that are taking part in the official delegation.
Business delegation’s co-hosts Liina Maria Lepik, Board Member of Enterprise Estonia, and Jan Larsson, CEO of Business Sweden, also delivered opening speeches, reiterating the common path of the countries towards a circular economy and higher level of digitalisation.
The keynote opening speech was delivered by Piret Mürk-Dubout, a Member of the Management Board of Tallink, focusing on the business and trade relationships between Sweden and Estonia. After this, the Forum moved to lively discussions led by business leaders. There were three moderated panel discussions that focused on Green Transition, Digitalization, and Smart Mobility.
As energy is of the hottest topics across Nordics, this discussion was focused on the measures which could be implemented to make its production greener and speed up the arrival of the circular economy. Speakers included:
- Kai Realo, CEO at Ragn-Sells Estonia;
- Lauri Tammiste, Centre Director at SEI Tallinn;
- Annika Ölme, SVP Technology Development at SKF;
- Tobias Hansson, CEO at Hitachi Energy Sweden.
The panellists agreed that the events of 2022 were a turning point for the transition and praised Estonia for its efforts to mitigate energy challenges. Green transition is one of Estonia’s most ambitious initiatives, as the country aims to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.
“Such efforts can’t be an issue of one country but requires a region-wide collaboration”, said Annika Ölme. Hydrogen usage in the future energy grids also sparked an insightful conversation, as Estonia is one of the world’s leaders in its adoption, with a first-ever nationwide Hydrogen valley in place.
Speeding up digitalization
The Digitalization panel discussed the role of digitalization in shaping the future of business, including discussions on automation, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity. Speakers included:
- Merit Valdsalu, Founder and CEO of Single Earth;
- Linnar Viik, Chairman of EIT Digital;
- Kristian Samuelsson, professor and board member of Getinge;
- Karolina Ling-Vannerus, CEO of Circulate.
Although Estonia is a recognized leader in digitalization, the world moves forwards at a striking speed, posing new challenges for policymakers and business leaders. The arrival of large language models alone could reshape numerous industries, said the participants. “Innovation is a muscle you need to train every day,” concluded Linnar Viik.
There was also a discussion regarding qualities each country can learn from each other. Estonians were praised for the speed of their decision-making and execution, while Swedes — for their long-term planning.
Enabling smart mobility
The Smart Mobility panel focused on the future of mobility, including electric cars, autonomous vehicles, and smart infrastructure. Speakers included:
- Martin Villig, Founder & CEO of Bolt Technology;
- Novella Uiga, Electronics Team Lead of Solaride;
- Mattias Johansson, Head of Public Affairs at Volvo Cars;
- Karin Ebbinghaus, CEO of Elonroad.
Coupled with an energy transition, the world is increasingly adopting new kinds of transportation, with electric vehicles steadily gaining their share. While bringing a significantly lower carbon footprint, they present new challenges, such as charging.
Companies like Elonroad tackle it in a unique way by developing an electrified road capable of recharging batteries on the move. On the other hand, Bolt advocates for a new approach towards mobility. As Martin Villig pointed out, in Tallinn alone over half of the trips are less than 6KM and could be successfully covered by alternative types of transportation, such as bikes, scooters and ride-sharing platforms.
The Business Forum concluded with concluding remarks from government ministers Tiit Riisalo and Johan Forssell, who summarized the discussions and emphasized the importance of fostering business and trade relations between Sweden and Estonia.
Wish to join the club and invest in the Estonian Unicorn Factory? Fill out our e-Consulting form, and one of our investment advisors will get in touch soon.