The Estonian entrepreneurship strategy's success

The 2014-2020 Estonian Enterprise Growth Strategy turns half-time milestone with Estonia ranking first for entrepreneurship

Posted by Jérôme Lioret on 15th Jan 2018

The World Economic Forum published by the end of year 2016 about entrepreneurship in Europe a study on which the attention was drawn recently by an Alex Gray's post on the World Economic Forum's web site, then relayed on LinkedIn.

She highlighted the concept of intrapreneur, as well as pointing out in the study, Estonia's surprising first place in ranking, followed by Sweden and Latvia.

The entrepreneur country

If other countries could have been expected at Estonia's place, seeing it as the number one country for entrepreneurship is not such a surprise. And in fact, the report states that Estonia is often cited as a model for entrepreneurially-oriented policy.

Backed by the state's entrepreneurial policy, Estonian's success in this aspects of economic life is no accident.

Since independence was restored in 1991, the government as moved from the former planned economy model to a liberal one, based on innovative policies such as digitalized government services.

The globally visible the e-Residency program the country offers to anyone willing to do online business from the Estonian digital base is the most visible action of the Estonian government who "greatly supported the entrepreneurship trend by adopting several strategies over the past decade to bost business starts".

In addition to the government impulsed entrepreneurial policies, the World Economic Forum's "Entrepreneurial Employee Activity and Competitiveness in Europe" report brings to light three key success factors to explain at a cultural level Estonia's #1 ranking for entrepreneurship:

  1. "Estonia has a long standing history and culture of self reliance and persistance", result of the 1940-1991 period, itself preceeded by other periods, before 1918's independence, of living under large neighbours "protection".

  2. Result of the first factor, "Estonian pride themselves on the ability to be persistent and inventive whatever the conditions". In the last decade, Estonia has seen quite a number of success stories wich inspired a generation of entrepreneurs willing to follow Skype's path, resulting in innovative offsprings such as TransferWise, Jobbaticcal, TSolutions, Erply, PipeDrive, just to name a few.

  3. Being from a very small country forces Estonian entrepreneurs with ambitious goals to think internationally from the very beginning. At the same time, the small population size helps networking in the largest extends, turning the handicap into an advantage.

Entrepreneur spirit backed by government policy

Estonian government lauched in september 2013, the "Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020" program.

Reading through the entrepreneurship strategy plan, one can perceive Estonia as a company to which the government has set general objectives defined as the country's vision for the future:

  • Estonian are entrepreneurial and enterprises are ambitious;
  • Estonian enterprises produce efficiently products and services with high added value;
  • Estonian enterprises are active exporters;
  • Estonian busines environment is globally competitive.

This entrepreneurship plan interracts with six other development plans, such as the "Information Society Development Plan 2014-2020", which spreads further and amplifies Estonia's international reputation of a country of e-solutions as well as it helps promoting the development of digital entrepreneurship.

Focused before on modernizing traditional areas of the Estonian economy, the entrepreneurial policy shifts now toward emerging companies in more remunerative sectors, while making use of the existing competencies.

The StartUp Estonia program focuses on three courses of actions:

  • distribution of learning modules concerning start-up entrepreneurship, interdisciplinary teams and spin-offs;
  • contribution to fast prototyping of and market introduction of minimum viable products;
  • support to the inclusion and development of management competencies in start-ups.

Worth mentionning also, is the significative effort being made to promote and implement cooperation between universities' research & development community and enterprises. This effort finds a bright achievement in Adapter, which delivers relevant answers to enterprises' inquiries within five working days.

Success milestone

Half-way between 2014 and 2020, the lately published "Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017" sees Estonia at the 30th rank in The Global Competitiveness Index.

An encouraging milestone result for the Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020, which sets the objective of reaching the 25th rank in 2020, comming from the 34th in 2012.