Ten Finalists Announced for Development Fund Prize, Including 'E-Estonian' ID Concept ({{commentsTotal}})

E-votes are cast using a national ID card
E-votes are cast using a national ID card Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Last year, the Development Fund announced a 24,000 euro award, paid in monthly installments over a year, as a prize for ideas that would lead to economic advancement and higher standard of living. Here are the 10 finalists in the contest, narrowed down from 143 submissions. The winner will be announced after a live, dissertation-style defense of the ideas on June 12.

1. 10 million "e-Estonians" by 2025! (Taavi Kotka, Siim Sikkut and Ruth Annus)

A secure Estonian e-identity will start to be issued to foreigners at the end of 2014 - an idea that is currently making headlines in the business and information technology world. The goal is to marshal public and private resources to get at least 10 million people worldwide to become virtual Estonians, allowing them access to the EU economy.

"E-residents’s digi-ID enables foreigners and Estonians living abroad to sign documents digitally and avoid a lot of time-requiring and annoying paperwork,“ Hanno Pevkur, Minister of the Interior, told news.err.ee. "It gives the possibility to involve more entrepreneurs, investors and specialist into the Estonian economy, research and the overall development of Estonia.“

Pevkur said the parliament first started pushing for a form of this digital ID in 2009, and approved the detailed concept at the end of April. It will become active in this fall.

The target groups for the Estonian e-identity are foreign investors, foreign employees, and foreigners who take part in a companies’ management, as welll as representatives of other countries and international organizations, as well as their family members. It will also benefit foreign researchers.

Companies with foreign partnerships that have made direct investment in Estonia totaled 15.5 million Euros last year, which is 86% of the Estonian GDP. There are 16,500 registered foreign partnerships in Estonia, 9,925 are currently active. That is about 10 percent of all the companies in Estonia. In companies with more than 20 employees, the number of foreign partnerships jumps to 24 percent.

To set up an e-identity, the person will submit their passport, and facial and finger biometrics will be taken. In addition, a background check will be carried out to confirm the applicant's trustworthiness.

"Foreigners will be able to run things in Estonia not matter what their physical location, and it make economic and research activities with an international scope more flexible and effective," Pevkur said.

2. Supporting developing enterprise through taxes (Annar Alas)

Most forms of entrepreneurial assistance are aimed at startups. But there's red tape and the grants aren't available to those already in business who want to expand their operations. Tax breaks and deferred taxes would be a solution.

3. Estonia as a hackerspace and smart workshops (Heigo Mölder, Tanel Kerstna, Marek Muiste)

The idea is to build a "hackerspace" where everyone can join up in designing some startup. Every member of a team would have a stake in the project. The long-range goal is to increase the number of hardware engineers in Estonia - said to be in high demand. A basic blueprint can be found at www.skeemipesa.ee.

4. Network of Estonian business ambassadors (Indrek Pällo)

The idea is to create a business network of business people from or closely connected with Estonia who are willing to volunteer in helping to develop the country's economy, covering as many countries as possible.

5. Social impact bonds (Maris Ojamuru)

The SIB is an agreement between the state, investor and service provider to find the most effective solution to a given problem. If the goals are reached, the state pays the cost of the investment along with interest.

6. Personal health account (Eero Merilind) and health-ID (Ene-Maris Tali)

A personal database of medical check-ups, tests and history, accessible by a computer or mobile phone which would be set up at birth and deleted after death. Aimed at preventing health problems and speedier overview of a person's medical history

7. Giant leap in product development in Estonian industry (Heinart Puhkim)

The idea is to give a boost to the industry sector in Estonia, which employes 116,000 people. The focus would be on machinery, which has a 150-year history in Estonia.

8. E-college (Kunnar Kukk, Ljubov Feklistova)

The creation of a university based entirely on study via ithe Internet in Estonian and Russian. The aim is to popularize the open university format (distance learning culture) in Estonia.

9. Technology Development Agency (Ilmar Kink)

The agency would support companies on their R&D projects which focus on improving production.

10. Smartly mobile Estonia (Marten Kaevats)

Digitizing traffic would create new lifestyles and business models, and help with the transition to driverless vehicles. The organization would open discussions on the subject, analyze possible impacts and create a road map for getting there.

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