An Estonian-produced financial reports filing system won first place in the category of government services at the World Summit Award, an infotechnological innovations competition.
Two other Estonian creations reached the finals, having faced 460 contenders from 160 countries. Another 71 projects took part in the Estonia's national qualification round alone.
"All in all, we can say that the Estonian star burns brightly on the international stage," said Katri Ristal, a representative for the World Summit Award. "Many innovations such as the online tax agency and the e-elections already seem self-explanatory to us, but the majority of the world is still far behind our level of information and communication technology."
The Company Registration Portal was developed by the Center of Registers and Information Systems, a Ministry of Justice agency. The website, according to the Ministry of Justice, has taken the whole business of presenting their earnings and data online, allowing for instant and transparent reports. While also curbing the number of errors made in documents, the service cuts bureaucracy and administrative burden, according to agency director Mehis Sihvart.
The ministry has also seen a growing trend in early filings. In 2009, a third of companies gave out their annual financial reports within three days of the deadline; in 2011, the figure fell to less than a quarter.
Like other electronic government services, access to the Company Registration Portal, available also in English, requires a national ID card or mobile ID. The system also accepts Portugese, Belgian and Finnish identification cards as well as Lithuaninan mobile identification.
In the culture category, another Estonian finalist was the history website Histrodamus. "This [website] combines space and time, connects and compares various eras, events and geographic maps, and explains the causes for events and the ties between them," said Ristal. "Histrodamus has made a gigantic step for introducing Estonia's complicated history, making a dry history lesson interactive and visually attractive."
A third finalist was the social banking platform isePankur.ee. Ristal said judges were split on this application. "Some international experts saw the website, which facilitates loans between individuals and companies, as a savior for the world and a significant motivator for entrepreneurship," said Ristal. "Others, however, were extremely skeptical of sustainability of such a business model."
Founded in 2003 as part of the UN World Summit's Information Society framework, the World Summit Award is organized by the International Center for New Media.