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Innovation to combat the Covid-19 crisis

Around the globe, people are searching for innovative ideas to tackle problems created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries are scrambling to find solutions to combat the looming economic crisis, manage pressure on the medical system all the while trying to ensure that life can continue as normally as possible. Even the New York Times recently estimated that some countries might have a competitive edge in their way out the Covid-19 crisis. Estonia among them due to the digital society, startup ecosystem, and agile business and government partnerships. However, a lot of the ideas entrepreneurial Estonians have come up with, can be implemented elsewhere, not to mention that businesses are offering some solutions for free as well.

Hack the Crisis

On the same day that Estonia announced an emergency situation (coincidentally, Friday, March 13), the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications launched a fully online hackathon Hack the Crisis. Over the following 48 hours, more than 1,000 innovators across 14 time zones got busy mentoring, conceptualising, clarifying and refining solutions.

The hackathon, organised by Accelerate Estonia, Garage48 and Guaana has produced projects that have already been put live as well. For example, the state chatbot Suve is already up and running on many public sites, answering pandemic-related questions. Additionally, a platform that matches volunteers with people needing assistance in the crisis and another platform helping companies share the workforce that would otherwise remain idle are also successfully working.

Now a Global Hack is set to follow, bringing on board mentors such as tech entrepreneur Steve Jurvetson and former President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Adjusting rapidly

In a time when things can change in a matter of days, it’s important to be able to adjust quickly. As a direct response to the unfurling Covid-19 crisis, the Estonian Patient Portal launched a new feature in a matter of days. This lets patients to temporarily start their own sick leave in the system, helping take off some of the pressure from doctors and nurses.

Meanwhile, as students across Europe transitioned to distance learning, Estonian and other Scandinavian providers of digital education tools banded together to offer their solutions for free to the whole world.

Watch this space

Sharing is caring, even more so during an uncertain time like this, so if you’d like to learn more about all the solutions that Estonian businesses, either on their own or in collaboration with the government, have created as a crisis response, read more here. We’ll be updating the list as more projects come to fruition. If you’d like to learn more about any of the solutions or are interested in implementing any of them in your community or country, don’t hesitate to let our Business Engagement team know at business.e-estonia@eas.ee

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