Governance and implementation of Start-Up Policy in Estonia

IMPROVE project’s Interregional Thematic Workshop (ITW) ‘Governance and Leadership’ and Peer Review (PR) Tartu event, organised by the Tartu Science Park, took place on the 7th and 8th of June 2021. The ITW and PR were initially planned as face-to-face workshops in university town Tartu, Estonia, but were then turned into online meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The workshops brought together partners from the eight European regions (Spain, Portugal, Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Estonia) participating in IMPROVE project and Tartus’s regional stakeholders, as well as some national and international stakeholders. During the ITW and the sessions of the PR, speakers addressed different issues, such as the governance of policy and financial instruments, as well as some information about RIS3 and Smart city initiatives. Then there were presentations of some successful examples of start-up ecosystem and programs.

The ITW took place on the morning of June 7th and 24 participants from partner regions attended the event, that was focused on the ‘Governance and Leadership’. The event started with a keynote speech about the ‘Governance of Start-Up Policy and Financial Instruments in Estonia’. Henrik Kutberg, expert on start-up policy pointed out the goal for Startup Estonia for 2021–2027: “Enable an all-inclusive start-up mindset, which offers lifelong self-realization and entrepreneurship opportunities for every single Estonian and non-native resident regardless of age, gender, nationality, location or experience.” The ITW continued with the presentations about ‘Governance and monitoring of smart specialization policy in Estonia’ and ‘From Innovation Policies to Market Uptake, case of Tartu Startup Ecosystem’.

The Peer review started on the afternoon of the 7th of June and continued throughout the 8th of June. The main goal of this event was to reflect on the state-of-the-art of Tartu Region, the policy instrument of Tartu City – Development Plan of Tartu 2018 to 2025, with a special focus on its implementation as Tartu Science Park is one of the implementers of the policy instrument.

The session started with the Smart City Tartu example, the new smart initiatives that are worked out together with public and private sector. Raimond Tamm, Deputy Mayor of Tartu: “If there is one ingredient that makes a city smart, it is DATA!” Then there was given a detailed overview of Tartu city development strategy.

The second day before the lunch session of the Peer Review was about instruments for policy implementation. The UT spin-off program, S2B (Science to Business) incubation program, European Space Agency BIC (Business Incubation Center) Estonia and of the sTARTUp Tartu ecosystem were presented, focusing on how to support start-ups and new SMEs and other entrepreneurial initiatives. The afternoon session focused on pilot program North Star that is currently piloted together with universities and science parks in Estonia. Also, very important part was discussion among partners with the purpose of addressing some of the policy gaps identified and ideas that could be added to solve these gaps.

Compiled by: Ingrid Hunt, Tartu Science Park, June 2021