TechLink: Bridging UK – Estonia Opportunities

It began in March 2015, when the CEO and founder of aql and Northinvest, Dr. Adam Beaumont, received Lauri Bambus, Estonian Ambassador to the UK, in Leeds. This turned out to be a meeting that has led to significant collaboration between multiple counterparts in two of the world’s most digitally advanced economies.

Shortly after the initial meeting, Dr. Adam Beaumont made a reciprocal visit to Estonia, which was then followed by five more subsequent visits.

During these visits, he encountered a vibrant tech startup community, agile government with a world-leading approach to the adoption of open and compatible systems and a strong cyber scene to protect the entire ecosystem. In particular, Dr. Adam Beaumont was deeply impressed and inspired by how the e-identity platform serves as a pillar to the whole ecosystem. This platform enables e-voting, access to government services, banking, health services and tax filing. Furthermore, the digital signature feature provides a trusted exchange of document signing between individuals. A digital signature is as legally binding as one on paper and enhances the economy by making all legal and financial transactions faster and more efficient.

Every trip to Tallinn has uncovered further capabilities and opportunities to build valuable collaborations. I’m grateful to Chris Holtby, the UK Ambassador to Estonia, for his tireless assistance in making introductions at all levels, from CEO’s to the Prime Minister. When talking to senior Estonian Officials; it is apparent that they understand all the real opportunities in leveraging data, but that there is a need for trust and data integrity solutions to ensure that the privacy of the public is protected. This is aligned closely to my values and those of my companies and customers

Dr Adam Beaumont, CEO & founder of aql

Chris Holtby was also the mastermind behind TechLink – a UK-Estonia technical collaboration platform that has led to numerous collaborations between companies and start-ups in two countries. The highlight of TechLink was hosting the Duke of York for a “Pitch at the Palace” event at Latitude59 – a vibrant annual flagship start-up event in Tallinn where Estonian startups were offered an opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurial spirit and ideas in front of a high-level audience from around the world.

Through his work at Government Digital Services, Lord Francis Maude has been essential in building UK-Estonia partnerships as he was the one to recognize the transformational effect Estonian IT solutions could have on the UK’s digital transformation – the Estonian example was highlighted in almost every speech he made as Minister. Now Chair of Digital Leaders, Lord Maude, during his inaugural speech, highlighted the opportunities that could be leveraged through the use of big data – particularly in healthcare, but that it was imperative that the challenges of big data security are solved.

Northinvest, the Angel network and platform for the North of the UK was also well received in Tallinn – with over 200 angels and startups in attendance. EstBAN, the Estonian Business Angels network was immediately receptive and the first UK-Estonian co-investment in an Estonian startup was made last week. The company, Deekit, has created an easy-to-use collaboration tool to speed up remote working and cooperation, something that is needed within our contemporary distributed workforce. Henri Treude, lead investor from EstBAN commented: “it’s been a pleasure working with Adam and Northinvest and we hope this is the first of many investments and is one of the successes of TechLink.”

In the future we can see the relationship between Northinvest and EstBAN growing further. Potential partnerships are emerging as we are looking to address the needs of the UK health service.

I have been very impressed by the energy and commitment of Adam, aql and Northinvest in looking at the huge opportunities and inspirational vision here in Estonia, and what they can offer to UK companies, investors and the UK economy as a whole. The Embassy and our TechLink team remain ready at all times to offer advice and support to link people, companies and ideas together, and to help move practical collaboration forwards.

Chris Holtby, UK Ambassador to Estonia
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