Skip to main content
invest in estonia


sTARTUp Day 2023: where innovation meets investments

sTARTUp Day’s bold ice-hole pitching competition tested the courage and willpower of founders and awarded the most promising ideas with a half million euros.

Since its launch in 2016, the sTARTUp Day business conference has become the cornerstone of the startup scene in Estonia. Since then, it has expanded its reach far beyond its original local scope and this year brought together around 4,000 startup-minded people from March 15th to 17th.

Diving deep while being cosy

The first day hosted side events, with special programmes catering to investors and executives, while the next two days were centred around the main venue at the University of Tartu Sports Hall.

More than 150 entrepreneurs and experts shared insights and experiences on two stages and in seminars, starting with Martin Villig, co-founder of the fourth Estonian unicorn  Bolt, opening the show with a strong message. “Top-tier funds, including Sequoia Capital and Fidelity, invested in Bolt — it is clear proof for other companies that you can successfully run a global company from Estonian HQ,” Villig assured.

The programme tracks for this year’s event heavily leaned into a general DeepTech focus and included HealthTech, SexTech, EdTech, GreenTech, artificial intelligence (AI) and leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Investors took notice and stepped up to snatch the best ideas.


“sTARTUp Day was close, cosy, and kind of local. It is definitely a good event to meet early-stage Estonian and Finnish startups and be there at the moment they are stepping into the VC world,” says Simona Andriukevičiūtė, investor analyst at Lithuanian-based early-stage investment company FIRSTPICK. “I feel like the event scene is underused by other neighbouring countries’ startups, which allows an investor to feel closer to the Estonian ecosystem.”

Backing the real innovations

The conference featured a €500,000 prize pool for the region’s top startups in the sTARTUp Pitching battle, with over 70 organizations showcasing themselves in the conference expo area. A visitor could see the famous Auve Tech autonomous vehicle, test revolutionary reusable e-commerce packaging from Low imPACK or listen to DeepTech discussions powered by Enterprise Estonia and Startup Estonia.

In the heavily contested pitch contest, Paul-Tech won a €200K syndicate investment from EstBAN for their soil station technology, which allows farmers to monitor plant growth conditions in real-time.

Gearbox Biosciences, a BioTech startup providing a novel antibiotic-free protein production technology, received a €125K investment from Baltic Sandbox Ventures.

MX Labs was awarded a €100K syndicate investment from Cocoon Ventures for their camera-based technology, which accurately measures a person’s heart rate with a smartphone or computer camera, potentially aiding in the diagnosis of physical and mental health issues in the future.


To spice things up,  1,000+ people showed up to experience the first ice-hole pitching in Estonia – a novel pitching concept made in freezing water with investors in a hot tub. It follows former bold pitching completion formats in Estonia made by skydiving and other extreme conditions to test startup founders’ courage and willpower. Quite possible that these tricky challenges may be one of the reasons why Estonian startuppers are the most successful in Europe in creating the most unicorns per capita.

Additionally, the evening programme included the sTARTUp Night networking event powered by the Tartu 2024 foundation, ahead of Tartu bearing the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2024.


Tartu, Estonia’s second-largest city with near to 100,000 inhabitants, is becoming an increasingly popular destination for tech companies. An increasing number of startups are establishing their development centres there, including unicorn companies Playtech and Glia, as well as fast-growing startups such as Fractory, UP Catalyst, and LightCode Photonics.

The sTARTUp Day conference is a major part of this speedy transformation. It was recognized by the European Commission as one of the top three initiatives supporting the internationalization of business in Europe at last year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards.

sTARTUp Day 2024 will be held on 24.-26.01.2024.

Want to join the club and invest in the Estonian DeepTech sector? Read more on how DeepTech has become a hot topic in Estonia and fill out our e-Consulting form to get started with investing in Estonia.

News & events

Need more information?

Need more information?

What is it like to run a business in Estonia? How to benefit from the e-solutions and the efficiency of our business culture? What are the opportunities in specific sectors? Who to partner up with?

The Estonian Investment Agency’s team is happy to help you via its complimentary e-Consulting service, organize online or offline follow-up events such as virtual investment visits and guide you through the fairly simple process of investing in Estonia.