The Estonian startup scene is quite magical since one can encounter the most unicorns per capita in the world. This is due to our world-famous startup ecosystem, led by Startup Estonia. The key element of the ecosystem is the Estonian Startup Visa. ‘With the visa it is possible to get the right people on board relatively quickly,’ in Investor Priit Lepasepp’s experience.
In Estonia things progress quickly. Saksing gives an example: ‘It is possible to get all the banks behind the table for a fintech startup. In Sweden it never is, since their banks are highly competitive. Our country is just so small that every contact is a couple of telephone calls away.’
The same applies for the living environment – there’s no need to reserve 2 days to do the taxes – it’s done in less than a minute online, similar to the other 99% of our public services.
’In our small market you are able to test or change your business model quickly and relatively cheaply, before failing with millions or billions as Uber has done.’ Lepasepp’s statement refers to the agility of businesses that are able to redefine themselves when environments change – an ability oftentimes ensuring the competitive advantage.
The level of science
Saksing, who works alongside the university every day, confirms that the level of our universities is “very-very good”.
Since Estonians do what they promise, there are several development centres in the country. Skype and Kuehne+Nagel, for example. ‘In the first project meeting we want to talk about how we plan to finish the project, not what kind of software systems to use to control communications,’ Greentech manager at Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol, Ragmar Saksing describes.
‘Seeing that the government is interested in supporting innovation and entrepreneurship gives the ecosystem an even bigger boost. On the one side being the enabler and the other a role model definitely helps all ecosystem developers find the motivation to develop the sector,’ approves Ani, who, due to her projects with Cleantech ForEst, works together with the government on a daily basis.
‘On top of Estonia’s friendly investment environment, attractive tax policies, low bureaucracy and accessible digital solutions for setting up a company and online banking, relatively low labour costs, skilled and well-educated workforce, Estonia’s geographical location on the crossroads between the Baltics, the Nordics, Europe in general and Russia, might make a couple of heads turn. Moreover, startups coming from this small country are from the very start embedded with high ambition, vision and motivation to thrive. Estonia is a perfect incubator in which startups can build a launchpad to kick-off and scale to international markets,’ summarises CEO of Cleantech ForEst, Erki Ani.
A look into the young enthusiastic community could make one quite impatient to see the creation of another chapter of the story of Estonian cleantech. Or join in by getting answers to your questions about Estonian CleanTech via our unique e-Consulting service.
‘Energy transition creates opportunities’
Timo Tatar, Deputy Secretary General for Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications
During the last fifteen years, Estonia has dramatically increased its share of renewable energy in final energy consumption. Back in 2004, when Estonia joined the EU, our renewable energy accounted for merely 10% of the overall energy consumption. Today, only fifteen years later, we are reaching levels of 30%. And this trend will definitely continue.
By 2030 we are expecting our total share of renewables to be 42% of total consumption. The increase will be driven by electricity (39%) and the heating sector (63%). The transport sector will catch up quickly (expected to reach 14%) thanks to more affordable and environmentally friendly modes of transport such as trains, trams and zero emissions vehicles.
Estonia has created a close-to-ideal environment for startups to roll out their businesses in Estonia. The capital for seed investments is clearly available. Climate neutrality by 2050 – the target heavily discussed in EU corridors and meetings – has created a positive vibe around the cleantech sector. That is where everyone is expecting the so-called “final mile” solutions. Solutions that will get us from 80% CO2 reduction to a climate neutral society. Estonia offers ideal grounds to test many innovative business ideas (e.g. aggregation, demand-response, AI solutions). Being a member of the EU internal energy market, the market rules become more and more harmonised between different member states, enabling business models working here also quickly scale into the rest of the EU energy market.