Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia

01/27/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/28/2023 00:37

Speech by President Alar Karis at the Startup Awards Gala

Dear audience, entrepreneurs, startuppers, unicorns!

It is my pleasure and honor to be here, because you are the ones on whose achievements I often introduce when I visit other countries. Over the past year, I have repeatedly talked about Estonia as the land of unicorns and about Estonia as a startup nation. These beautiful words are decorated with your actions and speak both of our ten companies that have reached the valuation of a billion euros, as well as of hundreds of small startups that are conquering the world by your intertwining technology and entrepreneurship.

Estonia is indeed known in the world as a country with great economic freedom and a liberal business environment. Our economic development was started by a correctly chosen path during the restoration of independence, and in business it is crowned by successful fast-growing companies.

Estonia is a good place to start a business and to bring the best experts from elsewhere, but our size limits the growth. To do business on a large scale, you have to do it all over the world. I hope that more and more people will understand, like us here, that every investment made abroad from Estonia is not our lost investment here, but a success story. ...because the better our companies establish themselves abroad and the more well-known Estonian companies are in the world, the easier it is for the next ones to get their foot in the door.

The economic influence of our country increasingly depends on the market share of companies in the world whose product development, knowledge and intellectual property are located in Estonia. We must work to continue to be an attractive location for businesses that start here but also see how science and entrepreneurship could be bonded much more strongly.

Elections are coming soon. This is the time when we, as citizens, can say what direction or development we want for Estonia. It is up to us to choose between how much we should focus on R&R and educating future specialists or how much we should pay subsidies... How much should we regulate and limit choices, or how much should we let people decide for themselves?

Despite the fact that today is a day to celebrate, I cannot ignore what is happening in Ukraine. The best economic policy is the one that ends the war with a victory for Ukraine. I want to thank the startup community for supporting Ukraine such strongly and unitedly. You have inspired many with this!

Today we are here to reward the best startups. Previous success stories, experience and knowledge are good soil for the growth of new sprouts that offer solutions to the problems facing society and help bring the science developed at universities into business. Let Estonia create even more unicorns, empower global unicorns and have the global brand of smartness.

So, those of you here today, let's share our learnings and experiences with others and start new startups so that we can keep this party going for years to come! Thank you.