Watch out California, here comes Estonia. Here’s how a former Soviet state became one of the most innovative tech hubs in the world.
This November marks 30 years since Estonia made the break from the Soviet Union. To celebrate they’re hosting an event which celebrates the country’s remarkable transformation into a global tech hub. Welcome to E-Estonia.
Hosted by Invest Estonia, the country will be showcasing its Digitally Wild tour which showcases their magnificent journey from Communist oppression to a thriving economy bursting with tech entrepreneurs. Starting out with little or no infrastructure, Estonia drew together its scientific knowledge base and pumped investment into internet driven public services.
Its Tiigrihüpe (Tiger Leap) computer network infrastructure development programme, provided an ambitious and imaginative approach to the rapid development of technology with a heavy emphasis on education. It not only gave the country the grounding for development but it also inspired a new generation of ambitious, innovative and fearless tech entrepreneurs.
It capital Tallin evolved into a hotbed of innovation with a series of small tech startups making their mark. The most famous of these was Skype which has been keeping the world connected throughout the pandemic. Started by a group of four Estonian developers, this software was the first to bring audio and visual communication over the internet to a mass audience.
Where they led others have followed including:
- Bolt: a ride sharing service which is set to challenge uber.
- Wise: A low cost money transfer service which helps people send money faster and more quickly than banks, and made their founders billionaires.
- Single Earth: A digital platform which allows landowners to sell and trade carbon and biodiversity credits. Using satellite imagery, big data and machine learning it can monitor how any area manages biodiversity and absorbs carbon. It transforms this into merit tokens which can be traded.
The country’s progress so far has been remarkable but this is just the beginning. The country is keen to promote itself as a major player on the global tech scene. Initiatives such as Lift99 offer a networking and coworking hub for the country’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Located within a former railway building, the entire atmosphere is rough and ready. There is no formal reception area and the décor has a touch of dystopia about it.
However, it symbolises the no nonsense can do attitude which has taken the country this far. This is a country which has been playing catch up for the last three decades. Released from Soviet control it has developed the infrastructure and support network for a new tech economy from scratch. It’s the product of ambition, hard-work and an optimistic approach which allows everyone to dream of becoming the next tech billionaire.