Source: President of Estonia
President Alar Karis welcomed the participants of Latitude59 international technology conference, noting that current obstacles must be viewed as challenges. “I know you see opportunities where others see risks,” said the head of state in his address to the representatives of the IT sector and start-ups.
“We should look for ways of using knowledge of digital technologies to solve the current acute crisis, how our technologies can enhance the defence of Europe, or optimise energy consumption and production,” President Karis outlined the tasks ahead. For instance, we should explore how to use technology to reduce our dependence on foreign commodities.
“Estonia is a small country, but the start-up sector is making us bigger. This is our opportunity and I believe we have done it well,” said President Karis. He added that due to the scarcity of talent, start-ups have the opportunity to involve people from all over the world. The head of state also expressed hope that there would always be a shortage of labour in the tech sector in a good sense, as the lack of highly educated professionals should motivate today’s graduates to study and develop themselves in order to become successful in their lives.
According to the Estonian president, the IT and start-up sector have contributed around a quarter of the economic progress of the last five years in Estonia, even though its share in the economy was just over 5% five years ago. President Karis noted that as the share of the digital sector grows, the average company and job are starting to look increasingly more like a job in the IT industry. The sector challenges cemented thinking, disrupts old business models and introduces innovation where it seems impossible.
The head of state also emphasised the wider socio-economic impact of the start-up sector. “The start-up mindset and digitalisation could benefit many fields of society,” noted President Karis. He observed that besides putting Estonia on the global map, the expansion of the tech sector has transformed Tallinn and many other Estonian cities in the previous ten years. “We have seen the development of former industrial areas into nice neighbourhoods, we see people from all around the world living and working here,” said President Karis. “High-tech companies that attract professionals have made Estonia more open and increased the value of education in the business economy.”
Looking back on the pandemic period, the head of state remarked that the digital economy is rearranging many fields. President Karis also noted that the choices of the education system were expanded and remote work became a standard in many companies after digital solutions had proven to be reliable and convenient during the Covid period.