Digital Discussion spotlight: Estonia’s new CIO Luukas Ilves

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Luukas Kristjan Ilves is the new deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications for digital development, or simply put – the new CIO of Estonia. We will be directing our spotlight on his impressive career prior to our upcoming Digital Discussion on March 10 where he is one of the high-level international panelists discussing digitalisation challenges and national digital strategies of Estonia, Singapore, the UK, and the OECD.

Secure your spot at the Digital Discussion here.

Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and IT Andres Sutt said that the task of the new deputy secretary-general is to take the Estonian digital state and society to an even higher level that corresponds to the high expectations of the public and Estonia’s international image.
“The Estonian state has been a pioneer, but the expectations for the digital state have also grown at the same time, particularly during the past two years, when fast internet, as well as the quality and security of digital services, have become increasingly acute issues. A divide between the image of our digital society and actual capability must also be reduced, particularly considering how fast the rest of the world is pursuing its digital ambitions,” Sutt said to ERR News.

Ilves needs to build a digital society of the future

The minister said that the new deputy secretary-general would need to build a digital society of the future on the existing foundation of the digital state and keep digital progress going.
“Estonians are justifiably demanding when it comes to their (digital) state; we measure it against the products and services of the best startups and tech giants. The task of my colleagues and I is to take what’s best in the rapidly changing tech landscape and use it to make life better in Estonia. The state alone cannot achieve that; we must move in cooperation and co-creation with people, communities, businesses, research organisations, and other partners in Estonia and abroad,” the incoming deputy secretary-general for digital development, Luukas Kristjan Ilves, said to ERR News.

A science-based approach is needed

According to Ilves, the Estonian state is in a situation where we need a science-based approach to dealing with data and developing information systems.
“As a digital state, we have a responsibility to make informed decisions aimed towards the future today, which will help to create the services necessary for our citizens, cut red tape, create value from data and serve as an example,” Ilves said to The Baltic Times.
He also revealed that the ministry would be creating a database of research topics from which universities can obtain essential research questions and issues.

Top civil servant

Until becoming the Government CIO, Ilves worked as head of the strategy at cyber security and blockchain company Guardtime while having previously been the company’s head of innovation and research cooperation. Before Guardtime, he was the deputy director and senior fellow of the Lisbon Council. During Estonia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, Ilves led the digital policy team and program at the permanent representation of Estonia to the EU. Ilves has also previously served as the head of international relations for RIA (Estonia’s central agency for e-government and cybersecurity). Luukas Ilves also led Estonia’s push to integrate its e-government systems with neighbouring countries and the EU. He has also worked as a policy planner in the Estonian Ministry of Defence and as a national expert attached to the Cabinet of Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President responsible for the digital agenda.
Ilves is a graduate of Stanford University and a reserve officer in the Estonian Defence Forces.

Luukas Ilves is among the panelists of the next e-Estonia Digital Discussion on March 10 at 3 pm (GMT+2), titled: Digital – the only superpower you really need?
Register here.

Written by
Dea Paraskevopoulos

communications manager at the e-estonia briefing centre


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