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Tartu startup ecosystem grew to a new height in 2023, data shows

Famous as an academic city, Tartu is now doubling as an innovation hotbed. Its startup scene experienced a promising growth in 2023, with an increase in revenue, a strong employment rate, and record tax contributions.

According to data from Startup Estonia and the Tax and Customs Board (MTA), startups in Tartu and the surrounding area saw a 4 percent increase in revenue in 2023, totalling €226.7 million, as reported by Tartu Postimees.

There are 119 registered start-up companies in Tartu and Tartu County. The payment provider Boku Network Services Estonia generated the highest revenue in 2023 at €53.5 million, followed by gaming tech producer Playtech at €51.6 million.

Startups raised €2.1 million in capital last year through six transactions. The largest capital raised was by law firm CRM provider Crespect at €600,000. Startups employed 844 staff, with 14 percent being foreign nationals. Playtech was the largest employer with 644 staff. On average, startup staff earned €3,026 per month gross.

“Primarily, revenues and profitability were maintained and, thanks to the experience and dedication of founders, local start-up firms managed to achieve stability and boost revenues somewhat, despite the global economic downturn,” said Eve Peeterson, Head of Startup Estonia.

Other significant employers are Boku Network Services Estonia (102 employees) and digital customer service firm Glia (151 employees). Tartu startups contributed €42.8 million in taxes to the state, with €41.2 million coming from labor taxes, accounting for 13% of the total paid by Estonian start-ups. Playtech paid €17.8 million and Glia paid €4.9 million in labor taxes, according to Tartu Postimees.

The outlook for Tartu, with its excellent academic institutions, vibrant startup ecosystem, and strong community support, is only positive too. sTARTUp day, one of Estonia and region most important innovation annual gathering, is getting record-high attendance. The city is also one of Europe’s 2024 Culture Capitals, hosting a series of events and festivals throughout the year to highlight its rich cultural heritage and promote creativity. At the University of Tartu, which has already spin-offed a few DeepTech startups, a dedicated UniTartu Ventures operates to find and boost best research ideas.

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