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Estonia’s top 10 business news from 2023

2023 was a year of pivotal deals for Estonian industry and its flourishing startup ecosystem, with DeepTech and GreenTech on the rise. These are some of the most popular stories of the year from Invest Estonia website.

☘️ Business and sustainability: GreenTech bloom

In 2023, Estonia hosted several internationally acclaimed GreenTech events under the GreenTech Week Tallinn umbrella, which served as a platform for showcasing the most innovative ideas in sustainable technology from Europe to America. From NEXPO Tallinn to the Cleantech Forum, participants seized every opportunity in the event schedule to delve into GreenTech. Domestic startup innovations were playing a major role. From the maker of artificial meat to fermentation gurus who make eco-friendly fats and oils from wood waste, here are the most promising and exciting Estonian GreenTech firms to follow.


🌎 Global influence: Estonia shines at Web Summit with hot tech and cool vibes

Estonia is famous for many things, and there’s more than just picturesque landscapes and a vibrant startup scene. The heart of Estonia’s culture beats to the rhythm of saunas, and they are more than just a warm place to relax; they’re a way of life. This was the message visitors of the Estonian booth at the WebSummit, Europe’s biggest tech conference, embraced.

As the country celebrated the Sauna Culture Year in Estonia in 2023, Invest Estonia invited visitors to the Web Summit conference to experience a unique blend of tradition and innovation at the Estonian Aftersauna event. Read more and see the amazing pictures from the gathering.


🧠 SmartEST in Europe: Estonia tops PISA results

PISA, an internationally acclaimed testing of students’ performance, published new results in late 2023. Estonia, which holds the title of Europe’s top performance in the latest round of tests, shines once again.

Estonia has upheld its position as a leader, demonstrating consistent excellence. In the latest assessments, which were published with a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Estonia ranks exceptionally well in mathematics, science, and reading, maintaining its status as a top performer in Europe and the top 4 across all of OECD. “In terms of knowledge, Estonian students continue to be at the top of the world and at the top of Europe,” Kristina Kallas, Estonia’s Minister of Education and Research, said about the latest scores


🔋 Powering the future of European energy transition

The Estonian city of Narva is getting a state-of-the-art magnet factory, soon to be built by Canadian form Neo Performance Materials.

This €100M project marks the first success story for the European Just Transition Fund, which contributed €19 million in funding to support the project. The produced magnets are essential for the green transition of numerous industries, serving as a crucial component for electric vehicles and wind turbines. Dominated by Asian companies now, this market is soon to be opened for fair competition thanks to Estonian rare materials. This is Europe at its best”, said the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.


💡 Big impact: Estonia is the startup and unicorn haven of Europe

In 2023, as global markets battled uncertainty, Estonia shined in the European tech landscape as a tech haven, leading in funding startups and unicorn creation, according to the latest Atomico report.

Estonia stands out for its high density of funded startups — over 400 per one million inhabitants. It also leads in billion-dollar companies, with 4.5 unicorns per million capita. According to Invest Estonia’s proprietary calculation, the number stands even higher at 7.7 unicorns — a certain number one in Europe. The full list of Estonian unicorns can be seen here.


🛡️ Firm ground: Estonia’s DefenceTech sector shines bright

Estonia is smart about many things, including its defence strategy and tech. In early 2023, Estonian DefenceTech flagship Milrem Robotics raised the largest defence investment in the country’s history. Just hours after that announcement, Seven DefenceTech innovators gathered in Tallinn for Defence59, a showcase of some of the most promising developments, from the latest drone innovations to mixed-reality situational awareness systems and the applications of data-driven approaches.

Read more about how Estonia uses technical knowledge to drive innovation in the defence and security sector to enable the deployment of smarter solutions on the battlefield.


🏌️ Global leaders: Estonians in Forbes 30 under 30

Each year, Forbes select the most inspiring and acclaimed young doers, publishing its 30 under 30 lists. Estonians were in the spotlight in 2023, as three Estonian founders made waves in technology, finance and manufacturing.

Kaarel Kotkas (founder & CEO at Veriff), Robin Saluoks (CEO of eAgronom) and Madis Lehtmets (co-founder of Remato) were all chosen for this prestigious list.

Their recognition is certainly earned. Kotkas, 28, is the founder and CEO of Veriff, one of Estonia’s most recent unicorn successes. Saluoks, 27, is the CEO and founder of eAgronom, an Estonia-based AgriTech startup that provides farmers with an innovative solution to benefit from the global green transition.


⚡ DeepTech innovators make it big: Estonia’s Skeleton Technologies secures €108M 

Estonian startup Skeleton Technologies, which makes supercapacitors and novel batteries, closed a €108M funding round that includes Siemens Financial Services (SFS), Marubeni Corporation and other investors. It’s the biggest financial infusion in the company up to date.

This funding will accelerate the development of next-generation products and finance the manufacturing expansion for supercapacitors and the company’s new high-power battery technology – the SuperBattery.

“Securing an investment from one of Europe’s largest tech companies is a significant milestone for Skeleton. In addition to SFS’ investment, Siemens is also a key partner, supplier, and customer,” said Skeleton Technologies’ CEO and Co-Founder Taavi Madiberk. “Their expertise in industrialisation and commercial partnerships will propel our growth and solidify our role in leading the energy transition.”


👩‍🔬 New horizons: Estonia is the new centre of excellence for Ericsson

Ericsson, the communication technology giant, is set to make Estonia the next-generation smart R&D & manufacturing hub of its European operations with a €150M investment.

The facility will be located in Ülemiste City, Tallinn, further diversifying the economy of Baltic’s biggest business campus. The vision is to consolidate all of Ericsson’s operations in Estonia into a single, cutting-edge facility spanning 50,000 square meters. This hub will house test labs, warehouses, production lines, and offices, serving as a collaborative space for co-developing new cellular ecosystems and production techniques.


🚗 Driving the change: Estonian FinTech startup Planet42 secures $100M

Estonian car subscription startup Planet42 raises $100M to address transport inequality by putting cars in the hands of people who are underserved by traditional banking.

The round was structured as a combined equity and debt funding, including a $15M infusion co-led by Naspers and ARS Holdings. The funding enables the car subscription startup to rapidly scale its business and meet its global expansion plans after its initial success in South Africa.


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