The Ministry of the Interior has drafted an order that would for the first time ever offer the definition of a startup company for legislative purposes as well as envisage the establishment of an expert committee to ascertain whether or not a business is a startup company.
To meet the definition of startup, the business model of a company that is either being established or already active must have big global growth potential, be innovative and repeatable, and the company must make a significant contribution to the development of Estonia's business environment.
In order for a business to be evaluated against the criteria of a startup, a foreigner, an employer or a person authorized by the employer must file an application with the expert committee on startups.
Lacking an evaluation by the expert committee, a foreigner active in the startup business will in the future only be able to participate in Build IT OÜ's Buildit Accelerator program and Wise Guys Investment OÜ's Wiseguys Business Tech accelerator program on the basis of a visa.
The Minister of the Interior's regulation will be imposed on the basis of the Aliens Act.
The ministry also said that the lineup of the committee will consist exclusively of members appointed by organizations representing startups.
"This is to ensure that the evaluation of whether or not a company is a startup is conducted by people who are the most competent to do it," Killu Vantsi, adviser to the Ministry of the Interior's Citizenship and Migration Policy Department, told BNS.
The committee will consist of representatives from seven organizations — Startup Estonia, Startup Leaders Club, EstBAN, Garage48, BuildIT, Technpol Startup Inkubaator and Startup Wise Guys — and work in a digital environment it has specially developed for itself.
"The regulation concerning startups was drafted in conjunction with Startup Estonia and organizations representing Estonian startup companies while also considering the best practices of other countries," Vantsi explained. "In order to be able ot apply for an Estonian visa or residence permit on preferential onditions, a company must first receive a confirmation from the expert committee that it is indeed a startup company for the purposes of the Aliens Act."
The ministry official added that asking for an expert opinion will not be necessary in the case of companies which arrive in Estonia within the framework of accelerator programs that the Estonian ministry deems reliable, which are the Buildit Accelerator and Wiseguys Business Tech programs.
The goal of these changes is to attract more startups and skilled workers to Estonia.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla