Climate change means business in Estonia

Marit Sall, Estonia’s ClimateLaunchpad organiser, blogs about the clean-tech community in Estonia.

Interest in the cleantech sector has gained momentum in Estonia in recent years. Generally known for its ICT startups like Skype and Transferwise, Estonian business community has collectively increased efforts to further support businesses that do good for the environment.

COP21 Journey to Paris

As the world meets at the UN climate change summit in Paris, we put the spotlight on innovators who are already creating solutions around Europe.
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Estonia, a tiny sparsely populated country, is a place where things must be utterly resource and energy efficient. Although the vast consequences of climate change have not yet impacted this region, people are well aware of the importance of environmental protection and embrace the proximity to unspoiled nature, where more than 50% of the land is covered by forest. Displaying resilience and an entrepreneurial mindset, green startups look to be the way forward.

Climate-KIC’s #JourneyToParis campaign makes a virtual stop in the Baltics this week (9 – 15 November), as part of the journey to the UN climate change summit COP21 in Paris. For more items in this series visit the #JourneyToParis page.

The Estonian startup scene in general is very young, but healthy, combining a good mix of tech hubs, accelerators, hackathons, business angels, and VCs. Some of those players have developed niche programs for cleantech startups to help them through the dual valley of death and scale up. Here are some players in the Estonian ecosystem that help to push cleantech startups forward.

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The Estonian Development Fund runs the Startup Estonia program that funds, invests and kick-starts different entrepreneurial support programs throughout startup development phases. Climate change has been seen as a business opportunity at Startup Estonia, where several new cleantech focused activities have been taken up, like the monthly networking event Cleantech Breeze. Besides, the organisation opens up business opportunities outside Estonia with partners from Finland, Sweden, and Silicon Valley.

Startup Estonia is also running the Climate-KIC’s ClimateLaunchpad and coordinating Climate-KIC educational programs and the accelerator in Estonia. “ClimateLaunchpad has created a positive vibe around sustainability and raised a great deal of awareness of cleantech as a viable business opportunity in Estonia,” said Marit Sall, ClimateLaunchpad Lead in Estonia. With the 3rd place winner ReLaDe covered in all main news channels, cleantech has proven to be desired and needed”, according to her.

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The biggest science park in the Baltics – Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol together with PAKRI Science and Industrial Park have also a central role in Estonian cleantech ecosystem. Though the collaboration started in 2007, only in 2014 the energy and environmental technology sector as a focus area was formally launched.

Science parks aim to draw together local and international knowledge, skills and related organizations to help find collaboration partners for going on international markets and develop technology in Europe and beyond. In addition PAKRI as being solely focused on greentech (R&D, manufacturing, industry-science collaboration for best synergy and innovation) offers bigger industrial companies testing grounds in a variety of sizes for testing new solutions.

“In PAKRI and Tehnopol we don´t look at energy efficiency (saving energy and other natural resources) only from a pure environmental friendly perspective, we look at it from a business opportunity perspective because at the end of the day viable business ideas are the ones that enable us to save/make money together with saving the environment”, says Kaija Valdmaa, Greentech Sector Manager at Tehnopol and Pakri.

Garage48 is focused on building awareness on entrepreneurship and team building. Their 48-hour hackathon series, where teams have to prepare their minimum valuable product, have been acknowledged in several countries throughout Europe. Garage48 is also focusing on green ideas.

This year, over 150 participants from various countries starting from Latvia, Russia, Finland, Estonia, France, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Ukraine, Netherlands came together to innovate the climate and environment sector and build new solutions that will most definitely change the world!

Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol together with Swedbank and Tallinn University of Technology established the first European prototyping fund called Prototron 3 year ago with the focus on green technologies, mechatronics, electronics, and ICT. Every year it receives around 250 applications out of which 25 projects have been financed who have developed 10 new products, generated 2 million EUR sales and raised 4 million EUR capital. Prototron has proven to be a viable link for ambitious entrepreneurs to get their first prototype off the ground.

Climate-KIC’s Journey to Paris

Climate-KIC runs its #JourneytoParis campaign from June until December 2015, with the UN’s crucial COP21 climate change summit as destination.

Every week for 28 weeks, Climate-KIC puts the spotlight on a different part of Europe. Join us and meet the people and initiatives who are building Europe’s low-carbon economy!


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