Estonia tech sector further widens e-services scope

The former Soviet nation of Estonia has celebrated its 30-year restoration of independence anniversary in 2021 and has done so with a digitally-empowered economy where government e-services outpace and outshine many (if not most) of its European and international counterparts.

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The United States has its established technology hubs. Silicon Valley, Boston and the Raleigh-Durham research triangle are arguably the most recognised centres of IT excellence. But as well-known as those locations are (and notwithstanding the tech big guns in Austin Texas) Utah’s Salt Lake City has quietly become the new darling of the cloud computing scene with its so-called Silicon Slopes district.

With Dubai’s Silicon Oasis technology park blossoming, many of us probably thought we could pin down where the next global IT zone might likely flourish. But then, Israel’s Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have both ridden in with homegrown tech startups over the last half-decade or so. Ready to confound our human IT hub geolocation senses once more, Estonia has emerged as the Baltic tech tiger that we really should have heard about.

So what shape is Estonian IT development in and where are the movers and shakers to be found?

Skype is Estonian

It may surprise some, but Skype was conceived, developed and built in Estonia, by three Estonians, a Swede and a Dane. Although now acquired by Microsoft as of 2011, the Lift99 IT startup ‘shared workspace’ centre in the capital Tallinn proudly displays the Skype logo alongside the nation’s other IT unicorns.

For the record, those other high-value tech unicorns include the Uber-challenging Bolt ride-share and food delivery business, as well as ID.me, playtech, wise, pipedrive and Zego.

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