Estonia is seeking to reinvent itself from a cheap place to source top-notch programming expertise into the Nordic* Silicon Valley and bio-tech centre.
Around 25 start-ups rubbed shoulders with entrepreneurs from the US and the Nordic countries as well as investors at the recent Latitude59 conference in Estonia. On show were firms seeking to become the next Roxio or Spotify as well as start-ups in the field of biotechnology (genome analysis and cancer research) and green technology.
Estonia takes pride in being one of the most wired-up countries on the planet, where fibre-optic enabled high-speed broadband access is ubiquitous and a full range of government services are available online to all citizens.
The small country of 1.3 million provided the tech brains behind Skype, the VoIP tech pioneer. Skype was originally created by Estonia-based developers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn, who have become heroic figures in Estonia. All three also worked with the business brains behind the VoIP platform - Janus Friis from Denmark and Niklas Zennström from Sweden – on Kazaa, the occasionally controversial P2P file-sharing software.
Skype helped inspire young Estonians to seek a career in technology while at the same time providing a well-spring of experience to nurture the tech scene. The Estonian developers became rich when Skype was bought by eBay, using the windfall to set up Ambient Sound Investments, the first of a range of angel investors. While those who were in at the start of Skype provided funding, those who left later are contributing much-needed experience to fledgling start-ups.
"Every second start-up has someone from Skype, if not from development then from sales and marketing," we were told.
John Leyden - More here