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2021, what a year!

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Can we get a collective sigh for surviving 2021?! With all of its pandemic-induced novelties and habits like endless zooms-webinars and online conferences, NFTs and the Metaverse. Having this cornucopia as the backdrop, we look back at what happened in e-Estonia – the stats, feats, and lessons learned. 

Our Managing Director Ave Lauringson says 2021 can be remembered with words like “uncertainty and flexibility”.  “At the same time, it enabled the e-Estonia team to push its professional skills and creativity to maximum,” Ms. Lauringson concludes. “Our team is motivated because of  e-Estonia’s excellent reputation globally and the number of follow-up contacts that resulted from the meetings between Estonian I.T. companies and our international customers.”

To name a few of our international visitors in 2021:

  • Deutsche Telekom
  • H.E. Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus;
  • H.E. Mrs. Vjosa Osmani – Sadriu, President of the Republic of Kosovo;
  • H.E. Mr. Klaus Werner Iohannis President of Romania;
  • H.E. Mr. Bogdan Aurescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Romania;
  • Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan;
  • H.E. Mr. Ignazio Cassis, Federal Councillor, Vice-President of the Swiss Federal Council, and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs;
  • Mr. Ossian Smyth – Minister of State, The Republic of Ireland;
  • E. Veronika Remišová, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Investments, Regional Development, and Informatization of the Slovak Republic;
  • H.E.  Josephine Teo Li Min, Minister for Communications and Information, Singapore;
  • H.E. Mr. Evarist Bartolo, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Malta, etc. 
A collage of a business delegation visit
The Deutsche Telecom visit to the Briefing Centre ensured a full room of attentive listeners + a joyful bunch of AuveTech autonomous vehicles riders.

Our Digital Transformation advisers are the ones that receive and brief the delegations on all things e-Estonia. And they are also sought-after keynote speakers and panelists globally. Ms. Anett Numa says one of the highlights of 2021 was her work trip to the United Arab Emirates. “Together with our lovely colleague Ege Devon from Enterprise Estonia, we organized an extra intense visit to four different Emirates. From meetings in the Dubai Future Foundation, Smart Dubai, Abu Dhabi Executive Council to finishing it off with an official seminar and eating dates with the Sheikh of Ras al Khaimah.”

Sometimes we go viral

Anett reminds us also of a visit that went viral in the Spanish media, and beyond. “We were paid a visit by H.E. Arancha González Laya, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain. I posted our joint photo to Twitter as I often do on such occasions. Little did I know that the fact that both I and our Managing Director were wearing the Respiray air purifiers – an Estonian invention to protect against respiratory viruses – would make it go viral all over social media and the traditional media in Spain. There were even TV talk shows that discussed the photo live, naming me, wrongfully, as the Foreign Minister of Estonia, and our Managing Director as the Prime Minister!”

Three ladies - one brunette, two blondes are looking at the camera
That viral moment with the Foreign Minister of Spain.

For our other Digital Transformation adviser Mr. Florian Marcus there were many significant moments of 2021. “In November, I travelled Latin America for the first time, speaking at conferences in Colombia and Guatemala with an audience in the tens of thousands and having in-depth conversations with cabinet ministers to build the foundation for future cooperation.”

“The other stand-out project for me was my collaboration with my colleague Allan Dobrõš to build up a workshop for the Swiss region of Viamala that would entice regional representatives to test and implement e-solutions from Estonia,” says Mr. Marcus.  “The solutions included self-driving shuttles and data analytics tools. I don’t want to jinx anything, but I’m very hopeful that we’ll soon see Estonian know-how in use worldwide.”

Estonia – the world’s fastest-growing nation brand

According to Nation Brands 2021 survey, Estonia is the world’s fastest-growing nation brand of 2021. Our tiny country recorded a 38% brand value growth from last year and outpaced modest increases across the ranking.

Estonia is considered as a country that proves Nation Branding works. Estonia and Costa Rica have learned how to turn Nation and Place Branding theory into practice. They did so through the evolution of their strategies and reputation on the world stage, positive proof of the opportunities for nations to change, and building brand perceptions in a proactive way.

This echoes the international research* ordered by our Briefing Centre that was conducted among 400+ respondents from 98 countries. The respondents placed Estonia among the TOP3 most digitally advanced countries in the world. In addition, 30 digitalisation experts were surveyed, most of whom considered Estonia the most digitally advanced country.

The busy year of our Briefing Centre: new podcast, new web, a big international campaign

Our team wasn’t sitting on laurels and enjoying all the international praise – we kept busy. Really busy, if we look back at it now.

A visual with different icons and stats
  • We launched our podcast series titled “The Art of Digitalisation” – the “baby” of our Digital Transformation Adviser Florian Marcus who expertly also hosted the lion’s share of the episodes. Listen to the 10 episodes on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
  • We have a brand new website – completely overhauled both contents- and design-wise.
  • We ran a big, international campaign called the Digital Testbed Framework. An innovative way to make our e-state bigger.  Our Government launched a public call to interested stakeholders – from all over the world! – to cooperate in IT development without the complex web of procurement rules. Thus we have a project in motion where anyone can build solutions for the digital state as well as get a proof of concept for their own commercial solutions. The number of applications we received was impressive – 81 in total – and even more impressive is the number of potential collaborations that will stem from these. More on this soon!
  • We held 7 (yes – that is seven!) high-level live webinars in our Digital Discussions series. Each online event focused on one topic: fintech, AI, e-health, mobility and smart cities, eID, cybersecurity, and the final one that looked into the future of e-Estonia.

E-Estonia will keep surprising you – that’s a promise!

“In 2022, we are keen to start implementing the bold vision for digital Estonia our government agreed on, ” the Briefing Centre’s Managing Director Ms. Lauringson says. “And there will be much inspiring stuff to share with the world. Stay tuned!”

Written by
Dea Paraskevopoulos

communications manager at the e-estonia briefing centre

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