Accelerating deep tech startups: Estonia’s ambitious action plan

Estonia, a country known for its digital innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, is gearing up to make a mark in the realm of deep technology startups. In collaboration with Startup Estonia and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, an action plan has been crafted.

This strategic blueprint is set to supercharge the development of research – and technology-intensive entrepreneurship within Estonia.

Understanding deep tech: pioneering innovation

Before we delve deeper into Estonia’s ambitious action plan, let’s shed light on the concept and essence of deep technology, often referred to as “deep tech.” Deep tech is a term that encapsulates a distinct category of startups and companies characterized by their pursuit of groundbreaking innovations rooted in scientific research and technological advancements.

These ventures go beyond the surface, delving into the realms of cutting-edge scientific discoveries, intricate engineering, and the development of groundbreaking intellectual property. Deep tech startups often tackle complex challenges with the potential to reshape industries, enhance human life, and fuel economic growth.

In essence, deep tech stands as a beacon of innovation, where audacious ideas meet scientific rigor, engineering excellence, and a profound commitment to advancing the boundaries of human knowledge. It is the realm of quantum computing, biotechnology breakthroughs, space exploration, and transformative artificial intelligence.

Estonia’s journey towards becoming a global deep tech powerhouse is a testament to the nation’s resolve to lead in this era of technological advancement. Now, armed with a clear vision and an ambitious action plan, Estonia sets its sights on pioneering innovation, fostering collaboration, and realizing the full potential of deep technology entrepreneurship.

As we navigate through the action plan, we’ll uncover how Estonia aims to accelerate the development of deep tech startups, addressing workforce challenges, attracting investments, and creating an ecosystem conducive to pioneering innovation.

Estonia’s startup success story

Estonia has made a significant impact on the global startup landscape, boasting a formidable reputation that extends beyond its borders. It is believed that Estonia’s startup prowess can be leveraged to become an international hub for deep technologies.

However, there are hurdles to overcome on this path, one of which is addressing the workforce shortage.

Workforce woes: a challenge to tackle

Estonia aims to ensure that it has a steady supply of individuals with top-notch knowledge and skills. The key lies in deepening cooperation with universities to nurture the required competencies. Without a skilled workforce, the deep tech ecosystem’s growth could be stymied.

Investment and legislative flexibility

To nurture high-tech enterprises, the availability of investments is paramount. Equally important is the need to keep legislation flexible to accommodate new technologies. The agility to adapt to emerging trends will be crucial in fostering innovation and competitiveness.

Ambitious goals and promising trends

The action plan sets audacious goals for the development of deep tech startups in Estonia. By 2025, the objective is to double the number of deep tech startups, with an eye on quintupling it by 2030. A look at recent statistics shows promise; Estonian deep tech companies attracted €175 million in investments last year and executed 15 transactions.

Additionally, 13% of all venture capital investments were funneled into deep tech. The target for 2030? To have a hundred transactions and 30% of investments in deep tech.

The deep tech landscape in Estonia

Startup Estonia’s database reveals that there are currently 1,444 startups operating in Estonia, with 128 of them specializing in deep technology. Some of the well-known startups specializing in this field include Starship Technologies, Milrem Robotics, Comodule, and newcomers like LightCode Photonics and Nanordica Medical.

These companies collectively generated a turnover of €130 million last year, contributing €25.6 million in labor taxes to the state’s coffers. Deep tech startups were also responsible for employing 1,505 individuals in 2022.

The significance of deep technologies

Eve Peeterson, Head of Startup Estonia, underlines the critical importance of deep technologies for the state’s future. Various reports suggest that deep technologies will be the primary driver of economic growth in the coming years.

While Estonia has traditionally excelled in software-focused startups, it’s time to shift gears and venture into creating world-class technologies in collaboration with the nation’s scientific community.

LightCode Photonics: an exemplar of Estonian innovation

One shining example is LightCode Photonics, a deep tech startup that originated from a research project at the University of Tartu. Founded by Estonian researchers, this startup is on a mission to revolutionize 3D imaging technology.

Their innovative 3D cameras are poised to become the new gold standard in the field, potentially transforming how robots perceive the world around them.

The role of universities and research

Mart Maasik, Head of the University of Tartu Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, emphasizes the importance of effectively translating research results into businesses that contribute to national economic growth.

Research-intensive ventures may be intricate, with longer and riskier development paths. Therefore, a collaborative environment is crucial to nurturing and fostering the birth of new enterprises with a high likelihood of success.

Collaborative endeavors for a thriving ecosystem

Tomorrow’s success stories are the result of meticulous preparation, unwavering commitment from implementers, and substantial investments.

In this context, researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, universities, and research institutions need to come together with a shared goal – the development of cutting-edge technologies.

The action plan: nurturing founders and intellectual capital

The action plan focuses on people, particularly founders and employees of businesses in the deep tech sector. It aims to further develop intellectual capital, providing services and competencies in various domains, including technology development, product development, intellectual property management, business development, and team building.

To facilitate the growth of high-tech startups, it is also crucial to strengthen the capital market, making investments more readily available.

Building collaborative networks

The action plan extends its reach into building international and sectoral collaborative networks between research institutions, major Estonian companies, global corporations, and investors. These networks are pivotal in sharing knowledge, resources, and expertise, propelling the deep tech ecosystem forward.

A tool for all stakeholders

The topics covered in the action plan serve as a valuable tool for a wide spectrum of stakeholders. Startup entrepreneurs seeking innovative business models, support organizations, universities, research institutions, investors, private and venture capital funds, and the public sector all stand to benefit from this comprehensive strategy.


Estonia’s bold vision to become a global player in deep technology startups is taking shape with a meticulously crafted action plan. As it seeks to overcome challenges and harness its strengths, Estonia’s journey towards becoming a deep tech powerhouse promises to be an exciting one.


What defines the essence of deep tech?

Deep tech encompasses pioneering innovations rooted in scientific research and technological advancements, with the potential to reshape industries and enhance human life.

What is the current state of deep tech startups in Estonia?

Currently, Estonia boasts 1,444 startups, with 119 of them specializing in deep technology. These companies generated a total turnover of €130 million in the past year and employed 1,505 individuals.

How does Estonia plan to address the workforce challenge in deep tech startups?

Estonia aims to deepen cooperation with universities to nurture the required competencies. Ensuring a skilled workforce is crucial for the growth of the deep tech ecosystem.

What is the role of collaborative networks in Estonia’s deep tech ecosystem?

Collaborative networks are essential for sharing knowledge, resources, and expertise among research institutions, major companies, global corporations, and investors. These networks are instrumental in propelling the deep tech ecosystem forward.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information, which may or may not be correct, complete or current at the time of reading. No recipients of content from this site should act on the basis of content of the article without seeking appropriate legal advice or other professional counselling.

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