Third of Estonian startups founded by e-residents

The e-residency programme turned six on December 1, 2020.
The e-residency programme turned six on December 1, 2020. Source: E-residency.

According to a recent analysis commissioned by Startup Estonia and the Estonian e-Residency program, almost one third of Estonian start-ups have been founded by e-residents. Most of those startups focus on business software development and FinTech solutions.

Head of Startup Estonia, Eve Peeterson, believes that Estonia attracts international talent primarily thanks to its innovative digital society and its worldwide reputation as a thriving breeding ground for startups. "Our small but remarkably diverse startup sector has become an essential driver for innovation and economic growth in Estonia. Thanks to the e-Residency program, the Estonian startup community has been able to truly flourish and thrive," Peeterson said.

What is more, e-residents have enriched the local start-up landscape with their unique skills, international experience, and cultural diversity, boosting Estonia's position as one of the most attractive innovation hubs in Europe, Peeterson noted.

Natalia Storozhuk, Estonian e-resident and founder of startup company PRNEWS.IO, remarks that local startups have helped spotlight Estonia's business environment on the global scale. "It is truly admirable how welcoming Estonian startups are to new arrivals. The atmosphere is wonderfully friendly and supportive, facilitating exciting synergies between newcomers and already established startups," Storozhuk said.

Another e-resident and award-winning startup founder Vicky Brock added that Estonian startups possess invaluable experience of harnessing digital solutions to effectively scale up their business. "The Estonian startup scene is basically an enormous repository of knowledge, and even the most experienced startup founders have a lot to learn from our Estonian colleagues," Brock commented.

"The success stories of Estonian startups, including our seven unicorns, have boosted Estonia's image as an innovative digital nation, which, in turn, engenders trust among entrepreneurs and top talent who are excited to challenge themselves in this environment," Peeterson noted.

She added that Estonia's strong startup cluster employs more than 6,000 people, paying around €100 million in labor taxes per year. "Startups founded by e-residents and actually, the e-residency network as a whole, contribute significantly to the local startup ecosystem. As such, e-residents can be considered the global ambassadors of Estonia's entrepreneurial environment," Peeterson said.

Lauri Haav, Managing Director of the Estonian e-Residency program, is highly appreciative of the close relations developed between e-residents and the local startup scene.

"The successful networking between e-residents and the Estonian startup community is well illustrated by the annual sTARTUp Day held in Tartu at the end of August. This year, approximately 330 companies have registered for the pitching competition, and 75 of them have links to at least one e-resident. Entrepreneurs who have applied for e-Residency in Estonia not only enjoy the benefits of our supportive business environment, but we have seen that they are also ready and willing to give back and contribute to the local community, as witnessed in 2020, in the framework of COVID-19-themed hackathons," Haav said.

He remains hopeful that similarly to the Estonian startup sector, the number of startups founded by e-residents in Estonia will continue to grow, and that in the future we will be able to welcome new additions to the growing herd of Estonian unicorns.

The Estonian e-Residency program was launched in December 2014 with the aim of providing foreign nationals with safe access to e-services offered within the Estonian e-governance ecosystem. Since the launch of the e-Residency Program, Estonia has welcomed over 83,000 e-residents who have gone on to establish more than 17,800 companies in Estonia. In addition to indirect economic impact, resulting primarily from growth among and investments into Estonian companies offering services to e-residents, the e-Residency Program has generated direct revenue for the Estonian economy in the amount exceeding 68 million euros.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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