Speech by President Alar Karis at the Conference Latidude59
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, dear start-up people.
Welcome to the Land of Unicorns! Thank you for everyone at this conference. You all have a role in turning Estonia into one of the best places, where to do business, in the world. The local success stories, foreign contacts and friends in every city across the world have made us into the start-up nation, who we are. Thank you for this!
One could ask what else could I say to you after all the achievements, but life has presented us new challenges. So, I picked two topics. Firstly, – innovation as a catalyst for economic momentum. Secondly, – how do we innovate on dual use technologies and the security in the cyberspace.
Estonian economy has grown fast in recent decades due to very good business climate and catching up in technology and innovation. One could say that most of the low hanging fruits have been picked up already.
However, it does not mean that there is no room for growth anymore. Our pace from the past only increases expectations and challenges for the new businesses. Future growth has to come from innovation and new solutions that have never been tried before. The better we do and the closer we get to the technology frontier, the more we have to value research, development and co-operation between businesses and the academia.
This might sound scary, and slow, but it is not.
Estonia has been the place of birth for 10 unicorns, global tech names and more to come. Our talents have worked all around the world and are now coming back. We have created and exited companies, empowered global unicorns and have accumulated the capital of leadership. This so crucial know how on how to found, build and grow global technology companies. It’s now time to take this know-how, merge with science and go deep.
I believe that deep-tech is the current and the next thing in the economic progress for Estonia. Traditional and less technology advanced companies will always have a role in the economy, but science and innovation are the foundations of true success.
Research creates technological advantage, which boosts competitiveness and profits in the long-run. More research and smarter people will also benefit the society in the broader context. Besides – innovation from defence and security sector which will end up in dual use like GPS and microwaves have. I hereby thank NATO for introducing DIANA initiatives and innovation fund to address the matter, challenge and opportunity.
Dear Friends, the world has changed a lot in recent years. Our thoughts are with the mighty Ukrainians, who by defending their own country, are fighting for the security of the whole free world. The new security situation in Europe has also altered how things stack up in the cyberspace. Cyberattacks are not anything new, but as online services play more and more role in the common life, we must bring more attention towards the situation on the web.
The cyberspace is overly mystified. We tend to talk in complicated terms, which makes people feel that the cyberspace is something distinct or standalone. It is not. Humans operate in the cyberspace. We all do it. Criminals do it too. In general terms a cybercriminal is no different from a regular thief – it is still a human, who commits the crime and who benefits from that.
Our focus should not be on reinventing the wheel. Rather than focusing on new norms, we must implement what we have already agreed in the real world. Believe me – Estonia knows what we are talking about.
Similar rules have to be applied across the world for crypto assets to close the loopholes for crooks, thugs, terrorists and war criminals, who could otherwise take advantage of low quality jurisdictions or evade sanctions set against them.
Digital companies can contribute to the safety of the Internet by enhancing security of their systems and setting high standards on their platforms. And inventing new solutions to be there before villains.
To conclude: we should build safe digital systems, founded on the basis of research and innovation, and build bridges with defence and security innovators.
And if you have not decided, where to start your business, or do the next investment, then Estonia is a perfect place for that. The economic freedom and wide use of digital services means that it is easy to run a business in Estonia from anywhere across the world.
Our small size could look sometimes like a disadvantage, but the truth is – it just strengthens our flexibility and agility. Estonia is one of the best places to test new services and try new products. Estonia has been testbed for so many innovations – from digital signatures to globally recognised start-ups – so use us, our know-how and us as agile testbed.
I have taken too much of your time now. I hope you have good time in Tallinn and in addition to the excellent stay at the conference, you will find some time to visit the city and just to have your best time in Tallinn.