SUMMER I 2014
SPECIAL!
Global
Estonians
land & people I state & society I economy & business I technology & innovation I c...
COVER
Reet Aus
Photo by
Madis Palm
Executive publisher
Positive Projects
Pärnu mnt 69, 10134 Tallinn, Estonia
think@positi...
6 		 Where To Go This Season?
		 Life In Estonia Recommends
8		 News
11 	 A Summer Gathering
		 Of Friends
Estonia’s Frien...
60	 Enn Kunila:
Estonian Art Is Estonia’s
Business Card
The entrepreneur and art collector Enn Kunila is a true gentleman ...
LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER6
I WHERE TO GO THIS SEASON
PIRITA CONVENT
TALLINN, ESTONIA
8TH
– 17TH
August 2014
08. August...
SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 7
In the Tallinn Town Hall
On July 15 at 19.00
Luc Robert (tenor, Canada),
Kadri Kipper (sop...
New Estonian language-teaching
startup raises EUR1 million
Lingvist, a new Estonian startup which aims to teach
a new lang...
Port of Tallinn opened a
new cruise ship quay
On 17 May, the Port of Tallinn opened the new 9.34 million euro
cruise ship ...
On 3-4 June, the joint 16th Baltic Development Forum Summit and 5th
Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Reg...
Photos by Raigo Pajula
SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 11
A Summer Gathering
of Friends This summer the Estonia’s Friends In...
LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER12
I EVENTS
Another goal is to spread the message that Estonia is successful, in-
teresting a...
SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 13
This rocking virtual environment designed by the Estonian company Grab-
CAD stands for ev...
LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER14
I EVENTS
Hardi Meybaum
Meybaum’s background in en-
gineering, process automation
and IT ha...
15SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA
If Estonia Had A Fan Club,
Sonny Aswani Would Be
Its Cheerleader
By Toivo Tänavsuu / Photo...
LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER16
I LAND AND PEOPLE
The Singaporean businessman Sonny Aswani (51),
Director of the Tolaram G...
SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 17
Sonny Aswani
Sonny Aswani has been with the Tolaram Group
since 1985 and has vast experie...
LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER18
I LAND AND PEOPLE
difficult for a bigger country. For businesses, this provides the versat...
By Anneliis Aunapuu / Photos by Madis Palm
The Woman
Who Sets
Snowballs Rolling
SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 19
I COVER S...
School
Reet Aus holds a doctorate in art and design. At first it may seem that
fashion and research are worlds apart, but ...
Work
Reet’s MA project started to live its own life. The Hula Collection pre-
sented the idea of local production and quic...
Upcycling and production
In seeking solutions to the problems, Reet Aus felt the need for more
specific environmental know...
Theatre and cinema
Along with her efficient and thorough activities in various fields,
Reet Aus still finds time to design...
Estonian
Representation
To The European
Parliament
Estonia joined the EU at the beginning of
2004. As one of the smallest ...
Kaja Kallas
21,498 votes
Kaja Kallas, a party colleague of Andrus Ansip’s, also won a place in
the European Parliament. Bu...
Indrek Tarand
43,369 votes
Indrek Tarand, previously a public official and diplomat, started his
rapid political ascent in...
Marju Lauristin
26,868 votes
The leading vote-getter of the Social Democrats, Marju Lauristin
has made a comeback in polit...
Egypt has the pyramids and the sun. The Alps have
enough snow for skiing and snowboarding. Brazil
has samba and, of course...
Edward Lucas and
Steve Jürvetson
The first two e-Estonian ID cards will be issued to The Econo-
mist’s journalist Edward L...
Wouldn’t it be great to travel to a foreign
country and have a friend waiting there? Isn’t
it much easier and more interes...
Welcome To
The Estonian
Time MachineBy Holger Roonemaa
“For our foreign visitors, it is like a time-machine,
offering a gl...
Vimberg keeps referring to the showroom as a time-machine because
for many foreign delegations visiting Estonia what they ...
e-estonia.com
showroom
Opening times: upon request
Delegation size: up to 54 people
Duration of presentation: 1 hr
30 mins...
LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER34
I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
Although large shoe factories are a
thing of the past in Estonia, o...
SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 35
Handmade shoes
Contemporary Estonian shoe design has been strongly influenced by
the pass...
LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER36
I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
Kärt Põldmann
creates shoes
for hedonists
The shoe designer Kärt Põ...
SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 37
Reval Denim Guild
The First Denim Guild
In The World
MINU is a denim brand with a differe...
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)
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Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)

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New intriguing summer edition of Life in Estonia magazine is out and available! Besides the latest insights on new business developments, it offers a refreshing diverse perspective on Estonian culture and more importantly - sheds light on a game changing revolution called the Global Estonians.

The developments in e-Estonia continue to WOW the world. New bold ideas are introduced and the traditional "ways-of-doing" get constantly challenged and upgraded by this small Nordic country. Get up to date with Taavi Kotka, the CIO of Estonia, as he explains the revolutionary government plan to give out e-residence permits to anyone around the world. Can you guess who are the two well-known men to be given the first e-citizenships and would you like to get one?

Indrek Pällo from Enterprise Estonia presents the new Estonian Business Ambassador Network. This global business family is created to become a valuable asset for entrepreneurs and help exporters make market entry smoother around the world.

Like every summer, The President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, has invited an international group of people referred as Friends of Estonia for a special gathering in Tallinn. Exciting projects like GrabCAD, TransferWise and Teleport Inc are being discussed. Find out more what makes the visit so special.

Estonia has recently witnessed something of a beer revolution and the summer issue devotes seven full pages on the fresh tastes in Estonian beer brewing. Also, it presents season fitting means of transportation with Renard Speed Shop motorcycles and Velonia´s urban bicycles. Variable fashion and design news are in. Acknowledged recycle designer Reer Aus explains why it’s important for her to rethink the industry and move behind the pretty slogans.

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Life in Estonia (summer 2014 issue)

  1. 1. SUMMER I 2014 SPECIAL! Global Estonians land & people I state & society I economy & business I technology & innovation I culture & entertainment I tourism Estonia’s Friends Meet Again Become An e-Estonian Now! Made In #SmartEstonia Time To Sing Together! Colours Of The Golden Age Reet Aus Turns Trash To Trend
  2. 2. COVER Reet Aus Photo by Madis Palm Executive publisher Positive Projects Pärnu mnt 69, 10134 Tallinn, Estonia think@positive.ee Editor Reet Grosberg reet.grosberg@ambassador.ee Translation Ingrid Hübscher Ambassador Translation Agency Language editor Richard Adang Design & Layout Positive Design Partner SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 3 Worldwide Network Of Estonians

 “There is an Estonian in every port” is Ernest Hemingway`s famous quote. There are a mere 1.3 million of us, but throughout our history we have been keen travellers around the world. All the experience Estonians have gathered from these ports that Hemingway refers to is put to good use when our businesses look to go global. And Estonian businesses really are going global. For example, our pianos—bearing the name of our country, Estonia -- are regarded as amongst the very best in the world. Those who know about music want the best, and that means Estonia. 

 Another example is the global rising star TransferWise. Born in Estonia, Transfer- Wise helps people make currency trans- actions from one country to another with greater efficiency and at substantially reduced cost. The fast-growing compa- ny has just recently added Sir Richard Branson to its list of savvy and respected investors.   And, of course, although Estonians may be apart from each other from time to time, we are always connected through Skype, an application created in Estonia and now shared across the globe.
 Going global not only means that Estonian companies are expanding out to the world.  In this edition of Life in Estonia, you can also read about the innovative idea of e-res- idency: a concept that allows entrepreneurs around the world to use the many possibili- ties of our attractive business environment and advanced e-governing, independent of their physical location. Time will tell, but in ten years’ time there may well be a tenfold increase in “Estonians” in every port. 

 Anne Sulling
 Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship of Estonia  
  3. 3. 6 Where To Go This Season? Life In Estonia Recommends 8 News 11 A Summer Gathering Of Friends Estonia’s Friends International Meeting recognises investors, politicians and artists whose activities and advice have helped Estonia to develop into a European country with a dynamic economy and vibrant culture. This year, Enterprise Estonia will hold a seminar, “Estonia—contributing towards a country without borders”, which will focus on Estonian in- novation and start-ups. 13 GrabCAD Leading The Way In Modern Product Development One of the speakers at the business seminar held during the Estonia’s Friends International Meet- ing is Hardi Meybaum, the co-founder of Grab- Cad, a start-up that has created a CPD tool which helps engineering teams manage, view and share CAD files in the cloud. Hardi recently published The Art of Product Design: Changing How Things Get Made. 15 If Estonia Had A Fan Club, Sonny Aswani Would Be Its Cheerleader The Singaporean businessman Sonny Aswani, Director of the Tolaram Group, with businesses on different continents, discovered Estonia in the early 1990s. Ever since, he has remained a devoted fan of the tiny, yet ambitious country. 19 The Woman Who Sets Snowballs Rolling Reet Aus is a fashion designer, theatre and film artist, entrepreneur and advocate of recycling who moves beyond the level of pretty slogans. Reet is unique in the Estonian culture industry, as she has found a way to incorporate powerful mass production, change routines and make use of production waste and over-production. 24 Estonian Representation To The European Parliament As one of the smallest countries in Europe, Estonia elects only six MEPs to the European Parliament. Get acquainted with the Estonian represen- tation elected on 25 May. 28 E-Citizenships Available: Become An e-Estonian Now! What does Estonia have that people around the world associate the country with? Taavi Kotka, the Estonian government CIO, is convinced that Estonia’s unique characteristic is its extremely comfortable business infrastructure, with the e-Estonian services that the country runs on. With the help of ICT, there may well be ten million Estonians by 2025 instead of the current one million. 30 Estonian Business Ambassador Network: The Global Business Family Of Estonia Indrek Pällo, Head of Export Advisers of Enterprise Estonia, introduces the Estonian Business Ambassador Network – a kind of global business family which helps rookie exporters to make market entry smoother. 31 Welcome To The Estonian Time Machine The technology evangelist Indrek Vimberg calls the new e-estonia.com showroom a time machine. Find out why and what the new showroom has to offer compared with the previous ICT Demo Centre. 34 Estonian Shoe Design Picking Up The Pace Original Estonian shoe design has not died out. On the contrary, the number of craftsmen is growing. Will shoe design remain a pleasure of the select few or grow into a significant branch of the economy? I CONTENT SUMMER_2014 LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER4
  4. 4. 60 Enn Kunila: Estonian Art Is Estonia’s Business Card The entrepreneur and art collector Enn Kunila is a true gentleman with faultless manners. He owns a large painting collection, mainly Estoni- an traditional paintings from the early 20th century on. Life in Estonia asked one of the most well-known art collectors in Estonia where and how it is possible to buy Estonian art. 63 EXPO Milan 2015: Gallery Of Estonia – Nests And Swings Andres Kask, the EXPO 2015 Vice Commissioner of the Estonian Pavilion, introduces the concept of the Estonian pavilion at EXPO Milan 2015. 66 Kristjan Randalu - A Talent Who Returned There are several famous musical families in Estonia, the Järvi family be- ing the most famous among them. In this issue Life in Estonia presents Kristjan Randalu who comes from a family of pianists and has become an acclaimed pianist himself. Find out what made the young and suc- cessful musician, who had all doors open to him, return to Estonia to his roots. 69 Indrek Laul – The Estonian Piano Man Indrek Laul is another acclaimed Estonian pianist who comes from a mu- sical family. In 2001, Indrek, a recording artist with a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School of Music, became sole owner of the Estonia Piano Factory. He introduced Estonia pianos to the US mar- ket with the ambition of making the pianos internationally recognised. 20 years later, his efforts have paid off. 73 Estonian Song Celebration Time-line The Estonian Song Celebration is a unique event that has become the main anchor of Estonian identity. Twice the song celebrations have led to Estonia’s independence. The Estonian Song Celebration 2014 is the twenty-sixth of its kind. Have a look at the time-line, which highlights the most important instances of this unique Estonian tradition. 77 Estonia In Brief 78 Practical Information For Visitors 37 Reval Denim Guild - The First Denim Guild In The World MINU is a denim brand with a difference. It focuses mainly on jeans, while Reval Denim Guild produces statement collections each fall. Rich in details, the range of heavyweight fabrics speaks clearly of the north- ern spirit: hand-crafted coats, capes, suits, dresses and even hats, all with a hint of nobility and a bit of magic. 39 True Grit: The Story Of Renard Speed Shop In 2008, a group of Estonians joined forces to revive the Renard brand. In April 2010, the first “modern” prototype, the Renard Grand Tourer, was unveiled at the Hanover Technology Fair. The Renard Speed Shop was founded with the aim to offer café racers and customs at more affordable prices. Get acquainted with the newest mod- els created at the Renard Speed Shop. 42 Viks: Steel Urban Bicycle Made In Estonia The Estonian bicycle brand Velonia has introduced the Viks, an urban commuter bike with a striking design and uniquely shaped frame. Re- cently, as a result of collaboration between VIKS from Estonia and the Dutch WOODaLIKE, a sensational urban commuter has been created: The VIKS WOODaLIKE I. 44 A Revolution in Estonian Brewing Recently Estonia has been witnessing something of a beer revolution, as many small producers have entered the market with exciting beers. Find out who is who. 51 Portfolio – Colours Of The Golden Age The exhibition in Tallinn’s Mikkeli Museum is entitled “Colours of the Golden Age” and it consists of paintings from Enn Kunila’s collection. The majority of the paintings are by Estonian artists from the first half of the 20th century. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 5
  5. 5. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER6 I WHERE TO GO THIS SEASON PIRITA CONVENT TALLINN, ESTONIA 8TH – 17TH August 2014 08. August 19:00 Leonard Bernstein’s Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers “MASS“ 10. August 19:00 Aram Khachaturian’s ballet “SPARTACUS“ 14. August 19:00 Wolgang Amadeus Mozart’s comical opera “THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO” 15. August 19:00 Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “A MASKED BALL“ 16., 17. August 19:00 A produced gala concert in honour of the 75th jubilee of maestro Eri Klas, the Artistic Director of Birgitta festival “ERI KLAS OPERA GALA“ Artistic Director Eri Klas Tallinn Philharmonic Society, phone +372 669 9940 Tickets: www.piletilevi.eewww.birgitta.ee MAIN SPONSORS:
  6. 6. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 7 In the Tallinn Town Hall On July 15 at 19.00 Luc Robert (tenor, Canada), Kadri Kipper (soprano, Estonian National Opera), Tarmo Eespere (piano, Estonian National Opera). Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Cilea, Tost. Supported by www.opera.ee Organised by MTÜ Musicante, Estonian National Opera. Ticket: 15/12 EUR Tickets available in Piletilevi and Piletimaailm ticket centres,Tallinn Tourist Information Centre and 1 hour before the concert in the venue. Info and booking: musicante@hot.ee, +372 5114442 On July 18 at 19.00 Kataržyna Mackiewicž (soprano, Poland), Rauno Elp (baritone, Estonian National Opera), Jaanika Rand-Sirp (piano, Estonian National Opera). Bizet, Puccini, Verdi, Lehár, Kálmán, Johann Strauss. On July 22 at 19.00 Angela Papale (soprano, Italy), Fabio Marra (piano, Italy). Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, Martucci, Tost. On July 25 at 19.00 Joanna Freszel (soprano, Poland), Oliver Kuusik (tenor, Estonian National Opera), Tarmo Eespere (piano, Estonian National Opera). Mozart, Gounod, Verdi, Britten, René Eespere. On July 29 at 19.00 Iveta Jiřiková (soprano, Czech), Filip Bandžak (baritone, Czech). Maria Bachmann (piano, Estonia). Mozart, Rossini, Gounod, Massenet, Tchaikovsky. JULY 20–27 2014 Presenting the Ukrainian National Opera! Verdi “DON CARLOS“ Lysenko “NATALKA POLTAVKA“ Bellini “NORMA“ OPRERA GALA CHILDREN GALA Artistic director of the festival: Arne Mikk saaremaaopera.eu facebook.com/saaremaaopera
  7. 7. New Estonian language-teaching startup raises EUR1 million Lingvist, a new Estonian startup which aims to teach a new language in 200 hours, has raised EUR1 million in a round of funding. Lingvist has developed a software programme to help people learn any language in just 200 hours by applying mathematical concepts to the learning process. In a personalised approach, using mathematical opti- misation, the tool tailors tasks according to one’s knowledge and skills. It takes languages apart and arranges them into micro-lessons which each learner completes in the order which is the most efficient for them. The company claims its adaptive learning approach, in which the soft- ware tracks what the learner knows in order to determine what one should learn next to fill the gaps most efficiently, sets Lingvist apart from its competitors. The company was co-founded by Mait Müntel, previously a nuclear physicist at CERN, who developed the prototype software to learn French in 200 hours. Encouraged by his progress, he launched it as a startup. “Our programme changes the way in which people all around the world learn languages. We are in the business of connecting peo- ple,” added Ott Jalakas, a co-founder of Lingvist. Although just a year in the making, Lingvist has already raised EUR1 mil- lion in a round of funding – from SmartCap (the investment arm of the taxpayer-funded Estonian Development Fund), Nordic VC Inventure and several angel investors, including the co-founder of Skype, Jaan Tallinn. Currently, it’s in a beta testing phase for French and Spanish learning modules. www.lingvist.io Richard Branson invests in Estonian startup TransferWise British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, has invested in a London-based startup that offers to send money overseas for less than the cost charged by traditional banks. TransferWise, started in 2011 by two Estonians, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, said it raised $25 million from Branson and others, adding to $6 million previously invested by firms Index Ventures and Valar Ventures. “I’m delighted to be investing in such an innovative company as Trans- ferWise,” Branson said. “Financial services, such as foreign exchange, have been ripe for disruption for decades and it’s great to see Transfer- Wise bring transparency to the market. It’s encouraging to see entrepre- neurs using technology to reinvent the old-fashioned FX industry and make a real difference in the market. I see tremendous opportunity for startups like TransferWise to offer breakthrough financial services and products.” Instead of actually sending money across borders, TransferWise match- es up customers’ transfer requests and uses its own bank accounts in various countries to make the trades. The company has been looking to expand in the U.S., including options such as becoming regulated on a state-by-state basis or partnering with a federally chartered institution, Hinrikus said. The London-based company has pledged to use its new funds to raise awareness of the hidden fees applied to overseas money transfers. According to the company, banks and brokers “disguise the full cost of their fees by hiding it within the exchange rate they offer. World Bank research shows that this significantly misleads consumers – almost two- thirds of those polled by them were unaware that there was any other component to the cost beyond the transaction fee.” TransferWise added in a statement that it “believes that all costs should be presented upfront and only the mid-market exchange rate should be used to process transactions”. www.tranferwise.com LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER8 I NEWS
  8. 8. Port of Tallinn opened a new cruise ship quay On 17 May, the Port of Tallinn opened the new 9.34 million euro cruise ship quay which will allow larger cruise ships than before to be docked and thus increase Tallinn’s attractiveness for cruise operators. The opening of the quay was marked with the moor- ing of the Royal Princess, the largest cruise vessel to have ever visited Estonia so far.   With the new quay, the Port of Tallinn will be able to moor cruise ships up to 340 metres in length, up to 42 metres in width, and with the draft of up to nine metres. The first vessel to moor at the new cruise quay was the 330-metre long Royal Princess, bringing over 3,000 tourists to Tallinn. “For the Port of Tallinn, the construction of the new quay was the larg- est single investment last year,” said Alan Kiil, the Board Member of AS Tallinna Sadam. “This investment will, on the one hand, satisfy the growing demand for Tallinn as a tourist destination and, on the other hand, help us meet the needs of cruise operators that want to use larger and larger vessels.”   According to Urve Palo, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Commu- nications, there is still potential for the increase in the numbers of cruise tourists on the Baltic Sea resulting from the joint marketing of Tallinn and other cruise destinations of the Baltic Sea, which will obviously af- fect the economy of the tourist destinations.   “It is estimated that a cruise tourist leaves an average of 56.7 euros in Tallinn, buying goods and services,” minister Palo noted. “Even at the present half a million of cruise tourists per year that amounts to over 30 million euros injected into local economy, in addition to such indirect effects as the jobs created in tourism agencies and catering facilities and the taxes received from these.”    Tallinn is to welcome around 300 vessels bringing approximately 470,000 cruise tourists during this cruise season. The summer cruise season lasts until 26 September, but cruise tourists are expected to visit Tallinn in October and December as well. Taxify named Estonia’s best mobile application Taxi ordering application Taxify was named Estonia’s best mobile application 2014 by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Urve Palo. The contest was organised by the Estonia’s State Information System Authority. Taxify’s founder Markus Villig said that the company was hoping to win the competition. “We’re proud and happy to be the best smartphone app of the year. Now we have to work even harder to grow and become widely used in other regions as well,” he added. Team management tool Weekdone won the top award in the category of business and commerce, together with the taxi ordering application Taxify. Weekdone was also awarded a special prize for the security solu- tion Nutikaitse 2017. In the category of education and culture, the winner was the mobile application of the bookstore Rahva Raamat. A travel app, Like A Local Guide, for tourists to help finding cool and cozy spots where locals like to hang out at and miss the tourist traps, won in the category of entertainment and the RMK app was named the best in the central and local government category. The top prize in the category of health and sports went to the Sportlyzer workout app, which also won the Facebook vote. Palo said mobile applications that were submitted to the contest showed that Estonia has world-class application developers. “The mobile app segment is very competitive, but it is also rapidly growing. This contest showed that we have the potential to be internationally successful in this field. Moreover, our event has also succeeded in raising the inter- est of young people towards the IT industry which is one of the largest investments in this sector,” Palo said. A total of 71 apps were submitted to the contest in five categories. The best applications will represent Estonia at the World Summit Award Mobile, an international contest of mobile apps. www.taxify.eu SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 9
  9. 9. On 3-4 June, the joint 16th Baltic Development Forum Summit and 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region - “Growing together” - held in Turku, Finland, brought a record-breaking 1,400 decision-makers from the entire region to engage in dialogue and knowledge exchange through plenary sessions, seminars and a lively networking village. Key areas addressed were outlooks on governance, the digital economy, regional cooperation, smart urban solutions, blue growth, innovation and competitiveness. This year’s State of the Region Report highlighted the transition to a “new normal”, characterised by lower growth rates in the future. Although the region continues to display strong macroeconomic fun- damentals, decreasing trends in export market shares and internal in- vestment signal opportunities for action. There is a need for continued investments in knowledge-based assets and competitive infrastructure, as well as developing more distinct areas of competitive advantage. BDF and Microsoft have launched a new think tank initiative on ICT “Top of Digital Europe” is a new think tank initiative which will address key topics related to ICT as a driver for growth and competitiveness in the Baltic Sea Region. Among the speakers were the Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen of Finland and Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas of Estonia, who encouraged other BSR countries to follow their lead and “go digital”, stating their desire to develop more cross-border services in the region. The Baltic Sea Region has all the prerequisites to become a global fore- runner in promoting ICT-driven start-ups and SMEs. “The Nordic/Bal- tic region is one of the world’s leading ICT powerhouses”, said Craig Shank, VP and Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft International. ”In the last decade, Microsoft has invested more deeply in this region than in any other part of the world. I am convinced that Top of Digital Europe will be a source of inspiration to overcome challenges together.” Estonia and Finland – two ends of one bridge ”Estonia and Finland are established partners and strong allies in shap- ing the Baltic Sea Region,” said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves during his state visit to Finland on 12-14 May. Estonia and Finland, together with Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Poland and Russia, also take part in the work of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), created in 1992 with the objective of strengthening and intensifying co-operation among the states. Currently the work of the council is led by Finland. Estonia’s presidency begins on 1 July 2014 and lasts for a year. During the state visit, President Ilves opened the Estonian-Finnish busi- ness seminar and visited several companies in Helsinki, including Rovio. The ports of Helsinki and Tallinn signed a Memorandum of Understand- ing (MoU) in order to develop a cargo route between the Vuosaari and Muuga harbours in the near future. According to the MoU, the ports wish to offer an interesting alternative for traffic between the Muuga and Vuosaari harbours to complement the Ro-Ro capacity of on-board passenger ferries. “We are connected by hundreds of thousands of human relations, close co-operation in the spheres of economics, trade and culture, e-govern- ance, Estlink power cables, soon the Balticconnector gas pipeline and in the future, hopefully, also the Rail Baltic railway, together with shared responsibility for the Baltic Sea and the security of the region,” said the Estonian Head of State, in expressing his desire for a quick solution and decision regarding the location of the planned LNG terminal. “The depth and closeness of relations between Estonia and Finland should set an example of internal integration within the European Un- ion,” stated President Ilves. The Baltic Sea Region: Growing Together LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER I EVENTS 10 In his address, the Estonian PM Taavi Rõivas encouraged other BSR countries to go digital. President of Estonia,Toomas Hendrik Ilves, together with President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, during the state visit to Finland in May 2014. PhotobyRaigoPajula PhotobyBDF
  10. 10. Photos by Raigo Pajula SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 11 A Summer Gathering of Friends This summer the Estonia’s Friends International Meeting is celebrating its fifth anniversary. The idea was born in 2010 in a meeting between President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the entrepreneur Margus Reinsalu and the management of Enter- prise Estonia. The aim of the event is to recognise investors, politicians and art- ists whose activities and advice have helped Estonia to develop into a European country with a dynamic economy and vibrant culture. President Toomas Hednrik Ilves gives a keynote address at the symposium “Quo vadis, Estonia?” in the Estonian Academy of Sciences.
  11. 11. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER12 I EVENTS Another goal is to spread the message that Estonia is successful, in- teresting and open to investments. In introducing Estonia, Margus Reinsalu has found that when someone simply talks about Estonia to foreigners they will politely listen but will soon forget. “However if these same people can visit Estonia and see for themselves how successful Estonia is, what good opportunities there are for investments and how beautiful the environment is, then they will remember and will return.” Every year a slightly different selection of friends is invited to Estonia, since the organisers would like Estonia to have a lot of good and influ- ential friends all over the world. The meeting gives those who have an interest in Estonia an oppor- tunity to meet and exchange ideas. Last year discussion of Estonia’s role in the European Union and the future of the European Union was the main focus of the symposium. This year the main theme of the symposium will be e-democracy and e-governance, and their roles in modern societies. As is traditional, one of the keynote speakers of the symposium will be President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is widely recognised for his exper- tise in e-governance, cyber security and cloud computing. The other keynote speaker will be Andrew M. Thompson, President, CEO and co- founder of Proteus Digital Health. Proteus has created a digital health feedback system to allow people of all ages and cultures to power their own health, to take better care of themselves and each other. This year the symposium will be held for the first time in the new in- novation and business centre Mektory, where guests will be able to ac- quaint themselves with the latest technologies in Estonia. The attendees of the Estonia’s Friends International Meeting will also be joined at the symposium by Estonia’s honorary consuls, which will bring more inter- esting viewpoints to the discussion. On the same day, the friends of Estonia will be able to meet Prime Minister of Estonia Taavi Rõivas, who will introduce the Estonian e-gov- ernment system. In addition, Enterprise Estonia will organise a seminar on the topic „Estonia–contributing towards a country without borders”, which centres on Estonian innovation and start-ups. Besides discussions of Estonia´s development, innovation and invest- ment opportunities, the participants in the meeting will be offered a wonderful cultural programme. It has become a tradition that on the first night of the meeting there is a concert by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the renowned maestro Neeme Järvi. This concert has become a popular cultural event in its own right. Prime Minister at the time Andrus Ansip gives the friends of Estonia a tour of Stenbock House in 2013. Estonia - Contributing To A World Without Borders This year’s Estonia’s Friends International Meeting will feature a business seminar hosted by Enterprise Estonia, focusing on the initiatives and ideas of Estonian entrepre- neurs worldwide who contribute to a world without borders. Estonia is the native home of several successful entrepreneurs who have achieved global success or have created ideas that disrupt the world order as we know it today. The seminar which will take place on 3 July will shed light on some of these projects, including Trans- ferWise, Teleport Inc, PlanetOS and GrabCAD. Estonians are playing a key role in shaping the future of the world, by introducing peer-to-peer currency exchange, by helping people find the most suitable location for living, by bringing engineers together to work on exciting projects and by collecting and analysing big data from the planet’s ecosystem. The distinguished foreign investor Mr. Sonny Aswani from Singapore will give a presentation on his time in Estonia during the past two decades and on further growth op- portunities for a country with a unique geopolitical position. The CIO of the Government of Estonia, Mr. Taavi Kotka, will intro- duce an ambitious programme to increase the number of Estonian digital citizens to over 10 million. The Estonian government has ap- proved the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents. From the end of 2014, foreigners will be able to receive a secure Estonian e- identity. This creates a unique opportunity to create a new set of remotely usable global services. The development of the appropriate infrastructure and a range of services require the coordination and stimulation of the public and private sectors. The aim is to make Estonia great: make sure that at least 10 million people around the world choose to associate with Estonia via e-identities. The seminar not only aims to promote Estonia as a hotspot for foreign direct investment, but also to demonstrate the truly global reach of its brightest young minds. By combining these efforts, the world will be- come more integrated and thus will move closer to being without bor- ders in human interaction. The next evening there will be a concert by the Andres Mustonen Jazz Quartet in the Oandu watermill in Lahemaa, surrounded by beautiful Estonian nature. Exceptionally this year, the guests will also be able to attend the famous Estonian Song and Dance Celebration ”Touched by Time. The Time to Touch.” The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting is jointly organised by the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Enterprise Estonia and the entrepreneur Margus Reinsalu. Feedback from previous events has been very positive and surely this year’s event will be memorable for all who attend, and will instigate many new friendships and interesting discussions on the future of Estonia.
  12. 12. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 13 This rocking virtual environment designed by the Estonian company Grab- CAD stands for everything linked to mechanical product design. Some years ago, GrabCAD began to intermediate challenges to its adrenaline- craving community of engineers, which today numbers over 1.3 million: different companies approach the engineers via GrabCAD and ask them to apply their imaginations to come up with product design or product engineering solutions within given guidelines and time frames. GrabCAD has intermediated around two hundred such challenges and the co-founder of the company, Hardi Meybaum, believes that eve- ryone involved is a winner: the engineers enjoy the excitement of the competitive challenge, companies receive new design ideas and Grab- CAD has been able to secure its position among engineers all around the world as their main “playground”. For example, an Indonesian engineer used GrabCAD to design a new jet engine bracket for GE, one of the world’s largest industrial corporations. He received 7,000 USD prize money for winning the challenge. The aim of GE was to have engineers design a significantly lighter jet engine bracket which could be printed in 3D, but which would retain its stiff- ness. Engineers from 56 different countries racked their brains over the challenge and, in a short time, came up with 700 different design ideas for the company, out of which the best one was chosen. The Indonesian winner, M. Arie Kurniawan, got a kick-start to his engineering career and started his own company. “A representative of GE approached us and told us that they had a prob- lem: they were spending billions of dollars each year on decreasing the weight of aeroplane engines by a couple of percent. Perhaps the Grab- CAD community with its more than 1.3 million engineers could help. The result was a bracket which was on average 70% lighter than the previous one! The CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, was totally stunned and admitted that the company had to rethink how their products were designed and brought onto the market,” explains Hardi Meybaum. Here’s another example: the US car manufacturer Shelby offered the GrabCAD community the challenge of designing the interior of their new super car Tuatara. Within two weeks, almost half a hundred de- signs were submitted and Carroll Shelby, the president of the company, spent the entire time, from morning to night, at GrabCAD providing re- al-time feedback to the engineers. The challenge was won by an Indian engineer for whom this experience was life-changing: he now works for the company in Las Vegas. GrabCAD Leading The Way In Modern Product DevelopmentBy Toivo Tänavsuu It is as if over 1.3 million mechanical engineers all over the world sat at their (virtual) desks designing incredible things at unbelievable speed. Companies watch in astonishment. Some decide to go along for the surprising ride!
  13. 13. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER14 I EVENTS Hardi Meybaum Meybaum’s background in en- gineering, process automation and IT has provided him with unique insight into how shifts in technology change the ways in which physical products are designed. After graduating from the Tallinn University of Technology with an MSc in Production Development (Me- chanical Engineering), Hardi worked as a Computer Aided Design / Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) en- gineer for Saku Metall, design- ing elevator systems. He soon moved to a position overseeing the company’s implementation of Product Lifecycle Manage- ment (PLM) software, before becoming CIO of the company. Hardi left Saku to join Colum- bus IT, where he implemented ERP systems and spent two years helping manufacturing companies implement new systems and improve effi- ciency. After leaving Columbus, Hardi started his first company, Futeq, to help manufacturers get products onto the market faster. Hardi spotted the oppor- tunity to help use open, web- based systems to accelerate the design process, and started GrabCAD. At the same time, the company did not let go of its own engineers. Meybaum explains that, from the American per- spective, product development based on crowdsourcing is “not about giving some pointless tasks to Eastern Europe, India or China, receiving brilliant solutions and, consequently, getting rid of jobs in Amer- ica. Rather this way of working helps to generate new half-baked ideas which can be developed further.” This kind of effective, open approach to product development and design, which is based on crowd- sourcing, requires out-of-the-box thinking and this, according to Meybaum, is still considered strange by most companies. But GrabCAD is definitely breaking through. If the engineering community of the company continues to grow at the present rate, they will reach two million soon. Recently GrabCAD started to sell a product called Workbench. This tool enables small and medium- sized companies to manage their documents and designs, and to share them easily between depart- ments and within supply chains. American produc- ers no longer have to e-mail designs to Asian sub- contractors; the files are shared seamlessly. Similarly, several engineers can be working on the same de- sign in parallel. Now purchasing managers or mar- keting people can easily access the design process; previously this area was hidden from them. The work and design processes of companies are be- coming much more transparent and efficient: it is possible to design products and bring them onto the market faster than ever before. Welcome to the 21st century! Already 50,000 companies are using Work- bench; GrabCAD earns its main profits in the US. Back in 2009, two young Estonian mechanical en- gineers – Hardi Meybaum and Indrek Narusk - no- ticed huge problems with their industry. No good library of CAD parts and assemblies existed, it was difficult to find talent, and it was a real pain to work with other engineers. Meybaum and Narusk started GrabCAD with the core belief that by embracing new internet-based technologies, they could radi- cally transform a stagnant and old-fashioned industry. They envisioned new forms of col- laboration and openness to help mechanical engineers around the world save time, stay super-organized and have more fun. The initial goal was to develop an “all-in- one” web environment which would be- come indispensable for engineers, planners and designers. It was meant to become an operating system for engineers and designers, where engineers could connect and gather information, manage their designs and communicate with their partners. To date the company has attracted several rounds of investments, totalling 17 million dollars, from prominent venture capitalists, and it offers online community and cloud-based collaboration tools for those involved in designing and building physical products. The company’s offices are situated in Bos- ton, Cambridge (England) and Tallinn. According to Meybaum, companies are starting to come round to the new way of thinking about product development, and GrabCAD has users in all sectors of the economy, with the exception of companies linked to the US defence industry, for whom they still do not meet the standards. What about profits? Meybaum calculates that if all Original Equipment Manufacturers in the US which employ 5-50 mechanical engineers used Work- bench, GrabCAD would be making a billion dollars annually. Clearly the company is enjoying operating in a potential billion-dollar market. In order to raise awareness of opportunities in 21st century product development, Hardi Meybaum recently published The Art of Product Design: Changing How Things Get Made, which is sold at the Amazon Kindle Store and other major book stores, such as Barnes and Noble. Meybaum says this book was born out of fear that GrabCAD was developing products that were too innovative and the industry’s way of thinking was lagging behind. “We wrote this book to change the way the indus- try thinks. We do not predict how things will be in the future, but we let about 50 companies tell their stories of how they are doing things differently to- day.” Read the book to find out how modern prod- uct design, prototyping and marketing work. How the digital revolution gets physical and how there is only hope for survival for those companies that un- derstand the principle “disrupt or get disrupted”.
  14. 14. 15SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA If Estonia Had A Fan Club, Sonny Aswani Would Be Its Cheerleader By Toivo Tänavsuu / Photos by Margus Johanson
  15. 15. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER16 I LAND AND PEOPLE The Singaporean businessman Sonny Aswani (51), Director of the Tolaram Group, with businesses on different continents, discovered Estonia at the begin- ning of the 1990s. He has remained a devoted fan of the tiny, yet ambitious country since. Always relaxed, like a seasoned Estonian, Aswani sits at his kitchen table in his Tallinn Old Town luxury residence. Pagari 1 is a historical apartment building which the Singaporean has restored to its original purpose. After decades of being used by military and police forces, it is again a majestic residential building. Almost all of the 42 apartments of the prize-winning building have now been sold. The summer has just started, along with the strawberry season and a pipeline of truly Estonian events ahead, including the Song Festival in July, where Estonian fans from all over the world will gather to sing along with the nation. How does flying back from Singapore to Estonia make you feel? This is pretty much like home. This is the place where I am the most fond of spending my time. When I come to Estonia, I always feel excited. There is still a lot for us to accomplish here. I usually come to Estonia about five or six times a year, and usually spend about two weeks here. We have made various investments in Estonia, particularly in the pulp and paper sector. Currently, I am look- ing forward to establishing a world class data centre in Estonia, and I have some real estate projects in the pipeline. Why data centres? The timing is right now. Estonia is very strong in terms of IT and soft- ware development, but there’s not enough infrastructure to back it up. If we are to store everything in the cloud, if Estonia does what it plans to do – back its e-government services fully in the state cloud - there will be a lot of infrastructure needed to support it. When Google acquired an old factory building in Hamina, Finland for its new data centre a few years ago, rumour has that they were also considering Kehra? When Google went out to look for data centre sites, they eventually narrowed it down to two countries: Estonia and Finland. They chose Finland because of the energy costs. In Estonia the cost of energy is still comparatively high due to high excise tariffs. Google acquired an old pulp and paper plant and converted it to a data centre. They got some green energy benefits, too. The Finnish gov- ernment met Google half way and brought Google to Finland. Esto- nia should think about that when developing its strategies to keep the country competitive. Back in the 1990s, what attracted you to Estonia? At the beginning of the 1990s we had a distribution business in Moscow. The volume there grew to such an extent that I needed to relocate our warehousing to meet the just-in-time delivery demands of our customers. I travelled to neighbouring countries to explore the possibility of relocat- ing my logistics. I visited Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and finally Estonia. When I discovered how convenient and transparent it was to do business here compared to all the other countries, Estonia was a natural choice! Even back in the early days you already had e-banking and currency backed by the Deutsche mark. The strategic geographical location was an additional attraction. Estonia has changed quite a bit during the past 25 years. What keeps you emotionally attached to the country? There is a phrase I have been using for years when introducing Estonia to foreigners: the one thing you need to bring when you visit Es- tonia is not a thick sweater, but rather your sunglasses, as the future there is so bright, you are going to need them! Our experience in Estonia has been wonderful. We have been here for almost 20 years and feel very comfortable doing business here. The motivation is also country specific. In the pulp and paper industry, we need to be in a country like Estonia, because of the high-quality raw material that is available here. That raw material we need – long-fibre wood, such as pine and spruce - is not available in many countries, including the emerging southern countries. It is only available in the northern hemisphere, and here we have competition only from Canada, Scandinavia and partly Russia. Why is it good to live and do business in – or from – Estonia? One of the things that first attracted us was that Estonia is one of the few countries in the world where foreigners and locals are treated equally. They both can buy land, they pay the same taxes, and every- thing is the same. Not all countries have that. If you are a foreigner and you want to be a part of the emerging MINT markets (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey), you go to any of these countries and discover that you cannot buy, or are restricted in buying, land as a foreigner. In Singapore, for instance, a foreigner can own an apartment, but not freehold land. The IT sector and start-ups have increasingly added excitement to the business environment, which is very important for innovation and crea- tivity. We shouldn’t underestimate the fact that the world has noticed Estonia as the next possible Silicon Valley. Estonia should set that as a goal. The values what we have already achieved or own by default are no less important: transparency, geographical location and ease of doing business have kept our company and many others here, and we are here for good. Of course, in our changing world Estonia must adjust its sail in the direc- tion of economic growth. p. 18 >
  16. 16. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 17 Sonny Aswani Sonny Aswani has been with the Tolaram Group since 1985 and has vast experience in setting up and running businesses in Asia and Europe. He has successfully developed paper, textile, real es- tate and life-style businesses in Estonia. Currently, he oversees the group’s interests in the Baltics. He has a degree in Business Administration and Economics from Richmond College (1984) and a master’s degree in Management Science from the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK (1986). He was awarded the White Cross medal by the President of the Republic of Estonia in 2001 and has been the Honorary Consul-General for Estonia in Singapore since 2008. Among the awards he has received are “Best Foreign Investor” and “Best Promoter of Estonia and for Job Creation”. Aswani is the Founder of the Tolaram Foundation, a non-profit entity helping the less fortunate. Date of Birth: 12 April 1963 Place of Birth: Indonesia Citizenship: Singaporean Languages: Sindhi (native language), English, Hindi, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and Javanese Hobbies: Chess, sailing, skiing and reading Estonian Honorary Consul to Singapore, Mr. Sonny Aswani at the symposium “Quo vadis, Estonia?” in the Estonian Academy of Sciences. 05.07.2013
  17. 17. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER18 I LAND AND PEOPLE difficult for a bigger country. For businesses, this provides the versatility to deal with changes, and we live in an ever-changing world. Where do you see the biggest opportunities for Estonia in the future? Estonia’s geopolitical location should be used: the closest European city be- tween Europe and China is actually Tallinn. Why not make Tallinn an air car- go hub? It should also invest in world class exhibition and convention centre. Estonia’s opportunities also certainly lie in the IT sector and above all in its skilled people. Today I worry about the brain drain. Over time, Estonia may lose the skill sets it has nurtured. As I mentioned before, people are Estonia’s primary resource, and in attracting talent and raising the quality of the existing workforce, there is a lot to learn from Singapore. I also see an active discussion in the society about the future, and I believe that in trusting cooperation between statesmen, entrepreneurs and people the best solutions will be found. Do you use the Estonian e-services? Yes. One of the advantages of Estonia is the ease of doing business. E-gov- ernment, e-taxes, digital signatures, going online to form a company – that’s fantastic! Far better than in Singapore, which could learn a lot from Estonia. Here we have been paying for parking by mobile phone for 12 years. It has been almost ten years since the first electronic elections. We are way ahead here in Estonia. In terms of organisational culture and business mindset, I am sure that Tolaram has added international scope to Estonia. But what has Estonia given to Tolaram? This spring Tolaram Group leaders from all around the world had their strategy meeting in Estonia, hosted by our team here. Everybody was amazed at our Estonian team’s integrity, competence and loyalty. That created such a fruitful and inspiring environment for the meeting that everybody had the confidence and security to set future goals very high, which united our whole international team more then anybody expect- ed. Estonia has given us amazing people and inspiration. How does the current crisis in Ukraine make you feel? It is an opportunity for Estonia. There are, for example, Asian companies in Moscow that don’t want to take risks in Russia or store their goods in Russia. But at the same time they want to be able to deliver in Russia within 24 hours. Countries like Estonia could benefit from this; com- panies want to mitigate their risks by diverting all the stocks that they usually keep in Russia and relocate them outside of Russia, but continue to do business in that emerging market. Estonia has been highly successful so far but it must remember that… success is a journey not a destination. Estonia’s costs and wages have risen drastically. How has that influenced your pulp and paper business in Kehra? We have kept on investing. If I don’t keep modernising the factory, we will not survive. The paper that we make is not exactly a commodity; it is a very specific packaging paper, which is environmentally friendly, one that you can only make from soft wood pulp and this pulp you can only make from wood that you get from countries like Estonia. If it was a common commodity, we would be selling the majority of our products to China. Instead, we are opening new doors in such markets as Japan, Australia and South America. So we have hence found ourselves a great niche, which allows us to export to 55 different countries every month. We have restored Estonia’s position in the global pulp and paper sector. And we continue to invest. Originally I had plans to increase the capacity in Kehra by 50 per cent, but just recently we decided to triple it: from 70,000 tons to 210,000 tons a year. We have excellent local raw material. I dislike the idea of raw material being shipped from Estonia to Finland in the form of logs, without adding any value to it. Why should we send logs to Finland, where they would make toilet paper and send it back to us? That doesn’t make sense! Instead, you add value … Estonia has two main national resources: forest and people. Making such products as pulp, paper, pellets, panels and wooden houses: this is what should be championed. It is the people that make a country, not the other way around. And I see great value in the Estonian people. Estonians are hard-working, focused and behave in a pragmatic man- ner. They are my trusted team members and I really value the loyalty and dedication of the people I have found here in Estonia. Many key people have worked closely with me for 20 years and that’s an asset that helps us to drive the business. Have you ever considered moving your paper production away from Estonia? No chance. I would move an industry like textiles, because we don’t have the raw material here. I worked with cotton from Uzbekistan many years ago. Those kind of industries would not survive in Estonia. But an industry where you have a local raw material and you add value to it before exporting, these work well. We used to be a little too dependent on textiles and got burnt. Even- tually we had to shut down the production, because it was no longer viable in terms of labour costs and competitive raw material availability. We focused on pulp and paper extensively and started our real estate business in Estonia. Estonia can adapt more easily in times of global economic turbulence. Yes, it is like a sailboat that can adjust its sails. In a rapidly changing world, the beauty of a small country is the ability to adapt, which is very
  18. 18. By Anneliis Aunapuu / Photos by Madis Palm The Woman Who Sets Snowballs Rolling SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 19 I COVER STORY It is typical of everything that Reet Aus undertakes to develop a snowball effect. Her activities, which are born out of creative impulses, soon begin to take on a global dimension.
  19. 19. School Reet Aus holds a doctorate in art and design. At first it may seem that fashion and research are worlds apart, but in the last few years the activities of the textile and fashion departments at the Estonian Uni- versity of Art have taken a huge leap forward from decorative arts and crafts, developing in depth and becoming serious players in the field. Of course, the effective and decorative nature of art is still important, as the annual high-flying fashion show of the university, approaching performance art in its execution, demonstrates (Reet was the main or- ganiser of this event from 1995-2002). Together the students and tutors of the Estonian Academy of Art seek unused opportunities in local production and create bold visions of the future. They learn to orientate themselves in contemporary technologies and new trends in research, and they have a bold approach to trying out options, as the “sky is the limit”. Students successfully compete with students of industrial design. They have reached an understand- ing of “the global” through the concepts of design - mass production - energy use - resources - waste… It seems that the process is taking on momentum. When you meet the direct and confident Reet Aus and look into her clear eyes, you immediately see that she is not one of those artists brim- ming over with unexpressed thoughts or desperately seeking a stage. This girlish woman (who is a mother of three!) works at a fast and steady pace on a wide scale: fashion designer, theatre and film artist, entrepreneur and advocate of recycling who moves beyond the level of pretty slogans. For someone who has a large international upcycling project on her hands, with many setbacks and surprises, she looks admirably calm, convinced that one person can indeed make a difference and stop the world from galloping over a cliff. The success of one project leads to success in other projects. One product today, an entire branch of the industry tomorrow. Dripping water can break down a rock. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER20 I COVER STORY
  20. 20. Work Reet’s MA project started to live its own life. The Hula Collection pre- sented the idea of local production and quickly found popularity, be- coming a recognised brand created by fashion students. Reet Aus’s principles started to find an outlet and her collections received more and more attention. But collections and small output did not seem like a sufficient solution to Reet, and this led to her commencing her doctor- ate studies by exploring the upcycling possibilities of the waste of the textile industry. After successfully defending her PhD thesis “Trash to Trend – Upcycling in Fashion Design” at the Estonian Academy of Art, Reet Aus received her doctorate in 2011. As a direct outcome of her research, she trav- elled to Bangladesh in order to participate in the creation of a docu- mentary film, together with Jaak Kilmi and Lennart Laberenzi, about the environmental problems related to the textile industry. Quite unexpect- edly, an even bigger snowball started to roll. In observing the inner workings of the textile industry in Bangladesh, Reet Aus became painfully aware of huge environmental problems re- lated to the mass production of textiles, which are not always the result of carelessness or greedy grasping at profits. In talking to the manage- ment of Beximco, a large Bangaldeshi corporation, common ground was quickly found. This laid the foundation for a collaboration that led to killing two birds with one stone. Textiles are the main exports of Bangladesh, but more and more we hear about the dire working condi- tions within the industry. One of the best representatives is Beximco, which employs 32,000 workers, who produce clothes for such world- famous brands as Tommy Hilfiger, Bershka, Calvin Klein and Zara. The company guarantees human rights and decent salaries. Reet was able to undertake an analysis of production at the factory, which helped to assess the extent of waste and create opportunities to direct it back into production within the factory. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 21 Reet Aus in brief: Brands: * Hula: created in collaboration with Anu Lensment, Marit Ahven and Eve Hanson as their final MA project (2002, cum laude), a brand which continues to live in the daily activities of former students. * ReUse: a collection created in 2006 in collaboration with the Recycling Centre, based on the principle of valuing the recycling and reuse of materials. The idea grew into an NGO, and a waste-mapping service was created on the webpage www.reuse.ee. This maps textile pro- duction waste in our region, offering use- ful information for local designers who value recycling. * TrashToTrend: the platform www.trashtotrend.com began with her doctoral thesis in 2011; it introduces the idea of upcyling and sells designer goods produced by this method. * Upmade: a brand which uses the up- cycling method to create a collection in cooperation with Beximco. * Aus Design: Reet is the Creative Direc- tor and designer of her own company. www.reetaus.com Activities: * Reet designs costumes for theatres (Von Krahl, Eesti Draamateater, Pärnu Endla, Tartu Vanemuine, Polygon, Nargen Opera and Tallinna Linnateater) * ... and films (“Tallinn Sprat”, “December Heat”, “Tabamata ime”, “Kuhu põgene- vad hinged” etc.). * Designs costumes for national celebrations and events: for example the concert of the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia in 2013. The newest project is the famous upcycle-technology T-shirts created for the Dance and Song Celebration 2014. * Studio at the Estonian Design House at Kalasadama 8. * Heads the sustainable textiles study group at the Estonian Academy of Art. * Is thinking about collaborating with cor- porations in order to reduce the ecologi- cal footprint of the textile industry. Awards: * “Väike Nõel” (Small Needle) (2003, the brand Hula), * Cultural Award of the Republic of Estonia (2004 “Estonian Ballads” production), * Estonian Theatre Award and Natalie Mei Costume Designer Award 2007, * Moemootor (Fashion Motor) 2009. * Woman of the Year 2013 (the magazine Anne ja Stiil) * Entrepreneur of the Year of Civil Society 2013 (Union of NGOs - EMSL) * Environment Act of the Year 2013: the Ministry of the Environment named Up- made the most environmentally friendly company of the year. Roles: * Senior Researcher and tutor at the Esto- nian Academy of Art, costume designer in theatre and film, and Creative Direc- tor and Designer of her company Aus Design. * Participates in the buzz of fashion shows, global fashion weeks and exhibitions as a participant and organiser. * Member of the Board of the Union of Estonian Designers and the Union of Es- tonian Performance Designers. * Member of the Lilleoru eco community. www.facebook.com/lilleoru. * Mother of three.
  21. 21. Upcycling and production In seeking solutions to the problems, Reet Aus felt the need for more specific environmental know-how and this brought her together with the environmental specialist Markus Vihma. Their collaboration led to the creation of the “T-shirt with the smallest environmental footprint in the world” (the T-shirt was chosen as a test product because it is one of the most pointless textile products: about four billion T-shirts with logos are produced each year for various events and most of them become direct waste). The new shirt - the upshirt - was assembled from production waste of quality rib knit fabric. And it looked great. The creators then turned to the crowdfunding platform kickstarter.com and found an unexpectedly large number of supporters (among them Jeremy Irons) who ensured half of the necessary starting capital. This helped to start production of the shirts. The design of the first product with the label Ausdesign (thank to Reet’s surname Aus, it translates as “honest design”) presented the logo of the company, an arrow pointing upwards, which is an ingenious way of visualising the concept of upcycling. The label of the shirt states that its production created 82% less CO2 and used 90% less water. It is the first known attempt in the world to mass produce the producer’s own production waste through upcycling. The next project was creating the T-shirts for the biggest national cel- ebration in Estonia: the Song and Dance Celebration 2014. This has made the eco-shirt into a mass product. The T-shirts reached Estonia at the end of May. The fact that Reet Aus’s doctoral work and activities in upcycling also have a local impact was demonstrated at the exhibition of student work at the gallery of the Estonian Academy of Art last December. The works were created in the framework of the international innovation project “Trash to trend”. For two weeks, students attended lectures and master classes, resulting in clothes lines which were created out of the waste and defective products of the textile industry. Many of those could become industrial prototypes in the future. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER22 I COVER STORY T-shirts for the Song and Dance Celebration 2014
  22. 22. Theatre and cinema Along with her efficient and thorough activities in various fields, Reet Aus still finds time to design theatre and film costumes. Like the fashion runway, the world of theatre and film is radically different from global industrial problems. Stage productions allow for creative fantasy and different themes help Reet to maintain a flexible frame of mind. But those activities would require a separate article. Reet Aus has participated as a costume designer in at least seven fea- ture films and has helped to create the stage look for numerous theatre productions. “This is where I find creative freedom, making costumes which are larger than life,” she says with a smile. This activity has also brought her recognition: the Cultural Award of the Republic of Estonia (2004, for the costumes of the epic production “Estonian Ballads”) and the Estonian Theatre Award 2006. Activities on the horizon The roots of Reet Aus’s current activities go back years and she is unique in the Estonian culture industry. Many designers have tried to organise their own production, but their volumes remain very limited. Others have found their niche in tailor-made costumes. Reet has found a way to incorporate powerful mass production, change routines and make use of production waste and over-production. This helps future consumers save money (which would be spent on products made of new fabric), reduces the costs of material and fabric produc- ers (lowering production-processing costs) and reducing overhead in the sewing factory (lowering the costs of waste management). In addition, this helps to alleviate over-production, which is created by the unpredict- able demands of the market. At the same time, environmental risks are reduced. This kind of environmentally sustainable thinking is becoming increas- ingly popular, but these ideas are seldom put into practice. Reet is a tough girl who has reached real tangible solutions with her activities. There is a product, there is mass production based on ideals and the products have also reached shops. It seems that Reet Aus has reached the status of ideal designer (for example in the production of song festival T-shirts): she has designed a product which is ready for production and fills a market need in Estonia and Bangladesh, which helps to save costs for everyone involved. Estonian producers should take notice of what designers have been trying to express for years: in the long term designers help save on costs, not create pointless costs! At the same time, our planet Earth will have an easier time. The acknowledgements keep coming in. Last year the Estonian wom- en’s magazine Anne ja Stiil nominated Reet Aus “The Woman of the Year”. This year the Ministry of the Environment chose her company as the most environmentally friendly company of the year. The Union of NGOs nominated Reet Aus as “The Entrepreneur of the Year”. She has accomplished great things. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 23
  23. 23. Estonian Representation To The European Parliament Estonia joined the EU at the beginning of 2004. As one of the smallest countries in Eu- rope, Estonia is among the four EU countries which elects only six MEPs to the European Parliament. On 25 May, 36.44 per cent of Estonian voters participated in the European Parliament elections, which is less than last time (in 2009), when the turnout was 43.9 per cent, but more than in 2004, when Esto- nia elected members to the European Parlia- ment for the first time and the turnout was 26.83 per cent. Of the six Euro-parliament mandates, the Re- form Party took two, with a vote count of 79,849, with former Prime Minister Andrus Andrus Ansip 45,022 votes The former long-time Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip can defi- nitely be considered the winner of the elections to the European Parlia- ment in Estonia. He won the highest number of votes as an individual and contributed to his party, the liberal business-friendly Reform Party, becoming the winner of the elections overall: Ansip, who stepped down from his position as Prime Minister only at the end of March, collected 45,000 votes from all over Estonia. This came as somewhat of a surprise, because the general opinion be- fore the elections seemed to be that voters had grown a bit bored with the man who spent the last nine years running the country. In the last years of his career as Prime Minister, Ansip has tended to make public declarations which the public deemed arrogant and haughty. Not a sin- gle pre-election poll predicted his triumph. The main basis for Ansip’s success may be the courageous decisions made during his term which took Estonia into the euro-zone during the most difficult economic crisis in the country. During his term, the global economic crisis hit Estonia hard, but thanks to the previous conserva- tive budget policy and subsequent bold cuts Estonia managed to make it out of the crisis on its own and became the most rapidly growing economy in the European Union. It would be difficult to find anyone from Estonia on the same level as Ansip in European issues who simultaneously possesses such firm au- thority in Brussels. One of his clear strengths is Ansip’s brilliant memory for facts. Journalists in Estonia know that his skill at citing research results, figures and percentages with accuracy, depending on how he needs them, is legendary. Most probably Ansip, who will be a member of the liberal fraction, will not stay in the European Parliament for more than a couple of months. The Government of Estonia has already agreed that they will put Andrus Ansip forward as the Estonian candidate for Commissioner of the Euro- pean Commission, and he will be replaced in the European Parliament by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet. Short bio Born: 1 October 1956 in Tartu Political career: Mayor of Tartu 1998 - 2004 Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications 2004 - 2005 Prime Minister of Estonia 2005 - 2014 Political party: Estonian Reform Party Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe 24 LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER I STATE AND SOCIETY
  24. 24. Kaja Kallas 21,498 votes Kaja Kallas, a party colleague of Andrus Ansip’s, also won a place in the European Parliament. But whereas Ansip is already a long-standing figure in Estonian politics, the political career of Kaja Kallas is still in its early days. Kallas, a lawyer by profession, joined the Estonian Reform Party before the previous parliamentary election in 2011. As a fresh face, she had surprising success in the election and left her job as a partner and de- partment manager of a leading Estonian law office to take up a seat in the Estonian parliament. Kaja Kallas heads the parliamentary Committee of Economics. Her strengths lie in competition law and especially energy and sustainable energy regulations. One of her tasks in the Estonian parliament has been the compilation of the Code of Ethics for MPs but, due to a lack of interest among colleagues, it has not been passed. In running for the European Parliament, Kallas emphasised the impor- tance of the free market in her election platform. “Only the free mar- ket creates preconditions for fair competition, guaranteeing that, if we make the effort, we have everything necessary to live as well as people do in Finland, Belgium or Germany,” said Kallas. “In the European Parliament, I wish to stand for the free market, ed- ucation, creativity and hard work as the values which we emphasise when talking about the EU and which underpin all our decisions,” she promised. It is worth noting that Kaja Kallas is a second-generation politician. Her father Siim Kallas is the former Estonian Prime Minister and is currently in his second term as a Commissioner of the European Commission. Short bio Born: 18 June 1977 Political career: Member of Parliament 2011 - Political party: Estonian Reform Party Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Ansip alone receiving 45,022 votes. Besides Ansip, the independent candidate Indrek Tarand (43,369 votes), Social Democrat Mar- ju Lauristin (26,868), Center Party MP Yana Toom (25,251), Reform Party MP Kaja Kallas (21,498) and European Parliament mem- ber, Pro Patria and Res Publica (IRL) member Tunne Kelam (18,767) were elected to the European Parliament. With that, Estonia fell into the category of states where generally the government was supported, the politi- cal mainstream favoured and every extreme rejected. Let’s get acquainted with the Estonian MEP’s. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 25
  25. 25. Indrek Tarand 43,369 votes Indrek Tarand, previously a public official and diplomat, started his rapid political ascent in the last European Parliament elections in 2009. Back then Tarand decided to run as an independent candidate in or- der to protest the closed list election system. Tarand claimed that the rigid election system meant that nothing really depended on voters, as parties had a free hand to decide who to send to the European Parliament. It seemed that Tarand’s ideas struck a nerve with people, as his popu- larity as an independent candidate was unbelievable. He won the sup- port of every fourth voter, more than 100,000 votes in total. Only one party, with its entire list, collected slightly more votes than Tarand as an independent candidate. With minimal campaign expenditures, Tarand decided to run once more five years later and, although statisticians might joke about him being the “biggest loser” of these elections, he did receive the votes of more than 43,000 people and secured another term in the European Parliament. The charismatic Tarand, who can usually be spotted wearing sunglass- es, is known for his direct and biting remarks. First and foremost, he is opposed to the rest of the Estonian political establishment, criticising the concealed nature of political decision-making, back-room poli- tics, party financing and crazy campaign costs. Indrek Tarand’s father Andres Tarand has also been an MEP and was for years active in Esto- nian politics as an MP and, for a brief period in the mid-1990s, as Prime Minister. Yana Toom 25,251 votes The biggest surprise of these elections and the candidate who has attracted the most controversy is definitely Yana Toom, a mem- ber of the Estonian Centre Party. The 47-year-old native Russian worked for years in leading positions of Russian-language media in Estonia before joining the Centre Party and running for office. Her position as Deputy Mayor of Tallinn was a great platform to move into parliament some years later, and today Toom is moving on from the Estonian parliament to Brussels. It was predicted that Toom would do well in the elections, but the fact that she triumphed over the Head of the Centre Party and the heavyweight of Estonian politics - Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar - came as a shock to Toom herself. The great majority of Toom’s votes came from the Russian-lan- guage areas of Estonia: the Tallinn area and north-eastern Estonia, where the majority of the population is Russian. Toom’s political career has been filled with controversy. For exam- ple, in its Yearbook 2011, the Estonian Internal Security Service wrote that as Deputy Mayor of Tallinn, Yana Toom cooperated with the Human Rights Information Centre—which cooperates with Russia in neighbourhood policy—to encourage the Russian schools in Tallinn to refuse to transfer to Estonian-language learning. In response, Yana Toom sued the Security Service and this court case has not been resolved yet. In addition, Toom has expressed opinions in the media which other politicians have called anti-state. Among other things, Toom has said that the Estonian lan- guage is going extinct. Just like Kaja Kallas, Toom is a second- generation politician. 26 I STATE AND SOCIETY Short bio Born: 3 February 1964 Political career: Member of the European Parliament 2009 - 2014 Politically independent Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance Short bio Born: 15 October 1966 Political career: Deputy Mayor of Tallinn 2010 - 2011 Member of Parliament 2011 - Political party: Estonian Centre Party Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Photo by Olga Makina
  26. 26. Marju Lauristin 26,868 votes The leading vote-getter of the Social Democrats, Marju Lauristin has made a comeback in politics during these elections. Lauristin has been well-known in Estonian politics for years, and in the early 1990s she held one of the most difficult ministerial posi- tions in the then young Estonian government: Minister of Social Affairs. But for the last decade she has not been active in politics. Instead Lauristin has been teaching students in her home-town of Tartu and has participated in numerous socio-analytical projects. For example, she has been one of the key people behind the an- nual Estonian Human Development Report. In the Department of Journalism at the University of Tartu, Lauristin (or Marjustin as she is affectionately called by students) has been a legendary teacher for decades. Independent of her political background, Lauristin’s socio-critical opinion pieces and analyses are truly valued in Estonian media. It is hard to find another person whose opinions carry the same weight. After the elections, Postimees, the most read daily newspaper in Estonia, called the decision taken by the Social Democratic Party to have Lauristin as its top candidate a clever move. “She made people who normally do not vote for Social Democrats give their votes to the party. Estonia now has an MEP who is able to think about and speak on topics important for the fu- ture of Europe,” wrote Postimees. For the journalism and other stu- dents of the University of Tartu, it is of course a painful loss to have their highly valued lecturer move from Tar- tu to Brussels. Tunne Kelam 18,767 votes Running as the leading member of the right-wing conservative Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica, Tunne Kelam is a grand old man of Estonian politics. One of Tunne Kelam’s first political acts was the memorandum he sent to the United Nations in 1972, demanding an end to the Soviet occupation of Estonia and the restoration of Estonia’s independence. He entered the public political arena at the end of the 1980s during perestroika. After the restoration of Estonia’s independence, Kelam was an MP for four terms. For eleven years he has been the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and, in the early 2000s, spent three years lead- ing the predecessor of his current party, the Pro Patria Union. Therefore, it is not surprising that Kelam’s political career continued in Brussels as Estonia joined the European Union. Tunne Kelam is the only Estonian politician who has been elected to the European Parlia- ment in all three elections in which Estonians have participated. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Subcommittee of Security and Defence, and a substitute member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Tunne Kelam’s fields of activity include the EU’S foreign and defence policy, as well as employment-related issues. He is a standing member of the European Parliament’s Delega- tion of Relations with the United States. In addition, he is a substitute member of the Delegation for Relations with the NATO Parliamen- tary Assembly and Delegation for Relations with Iraq. Kelam speaks seven foreign lan- guages: English, Finnish, French, Russian, Polish, Italian and Ger- m a n . One of his hobbies is bringing Eu- ropean art-house cinema to Estonia. Short bio Born: 10 July 1936 Political career: Member of the European Parliament 2004 - Vice President of the Estonian Parliament 1992 - 1995, 1996 - 2003 Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) Short bio Born: 7 April 1940 Political career: Minister of Social Affairs 1992 - 1994 Member of Parliament 1992, 1994 - 1995, 1999 - 2003 Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 27
  27. 27. Egypt has the pyramids and the sun. The Alps have enough snow for skiing and snowboarding. Brazil has samba and, of course, football. But what does Estonia have that people around the world associate the country with? “We can talk about our beautiful nature, but that is something that every country on every continent boasts of,” says Taavi Kotka, the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. “I also doubt that our climate is something that people would be very fond of,” he continues. Rather than nature or climate, Kotka believes that Estonia’s unique characteristic is its extremely comfortable business infrastructure and the e-Estonian services that the country runs on. So if people travel to the Alps for a skiing vacation and Egypt to have a sun-break in winter, why can’t Estonia attract them with its simple e-services? Ten million e-Estonians by 2025 This is exactly what Kotka and a couple of his colleagues have been working on for some time now. They have worked out a way for anyone in any country in the world to start enjoying the benefits of Estonia’s comfortable e-services. The project is called “10 million e-Estonians by 2025” and it will be launched at the end of this year. “What we are about to do will change the whole paradigm of citizen- ship. You don’t have to ever come to Estonia, and you don’t have to know much about us. But you will have the chance to become an e- Estonian,” Kotka explains. Let’s say there is a sheep-herder named John somewhere in New Zea- land and he wants to start doing business in the European Union. Cur- rently it would take weeks or even months of bureaucratic hassles to start a company in any EU member state. John would either have to pay thousands of euros for legal advice or travel across the world. But now this is all about to change. All John has to do is visit his nearest Estonian consulate, identify himself with his national ID card or passport and give some biometric information, such as fingerprints and iris pat- tern. When the consulate is sure that John actually is the real John, he will be issued an Estonian non-resident ID card, which gives him instant access to a lot of Estonia’s e-services. “This is the only time that we actually need to see him. He will prob- ably receive the ID card via post,” Kotka says. Straight after that, John may establish his own company in Estonia via the National Company Registration Portal and open a bank account using his digital Estonian signature. “The best news? Establishing a company and opening a bank account doesn’t take more than a day. John can start exporting wool from day one.” He doesn’t ever have to step on Estonian soil. E-Citizenships Available: Become An e-Estonian Now! By Holger Roonemaa PhotobyHele-MaiAlamaa LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER28 I STATE AND SOCIETY
  28. 28. Edward Lucas and Steve Jürvetson The first two e-Estonian ID cards will be issued to The Econo- mist’s journalist Edward Lucas and the American venture capi- talist investor Steve Jürvetson. The reasons for these choices are simple. Lucas has been one of the most significant international messengers of the Estonian story for years now, and he has also done great work in con- tributing to the country´s e-reputation. Jürvetson has Estonian roots, and he is a well-known VC investor in the US. After these first two, there is no queue and everyone can apply. The programme will be launched in October. At first, one can only apply for it in Estonia, but soon afterwards all the Estonian embassies and consulates will also start accepting applications. Kotka reminds us, though, that e-residency is a benefit that the country is offering, not a commitment. “This means that if we feel that the benefit will not be used legally, we have the right to decline the application,” he says. A reputation project rather than a money maker This might be very attractive for people in the EU’s other member countries as well, because running a company in Estonia is cheaper and more com- fortable than in the rest of the EU countries. “We also have a simple and clear electronic tax system and Estonia doesn’t charge a tax on reinvested profit. More and more of our tax board’s ser- vices are becoming fully automated, so you don’t have to worry about painful annual reports or anything like that,” Kotka says. Another thing to keep in mind is that becoming an e-Estonian and starting your company in the country allows you to always keep your own hands on the business. You won’t need to hire locals for that. “You can sign an agreement using your mobile ID while snowboarding down a slope in the Alps. I know, I have done it.” “Our idea is actually very simple. When someone becomes an e-Estonian, we guarantee that this person is who he says he is.” He says that the security level of this guarantee is two levels higher than anything that a simple commercial bank can ever offer. “That is because commercial ventures are not allowed to gather biometric information.” What’s in it for Estonia? At first it certainly won’t be money, as the whole cost of applying for a non-resident ID card barely covers the issuing costs for the country. “Rather, it can be seen as a reputation project. We know that we are the best in building an information society and instead of just talking about it, we would like people in other countries to experience it themselves,” Kotka says. Country as a start-up According to Kotka, the e-residency project will be implemented step by step. He uses the phrase “country as a start-up”. Kotka, who has significant start-up experience and who has been named Entrepreneur of the Year in Estonia, knows what he is talking about. “At first we just want to build our customer base. We are not afraid of making mistakes along the way, because we are confident that we will learn the right lessons from those mistakes.” The aim is to have 10 million e-Estonians by 2025. For a country of barely 1.3 million people, that is a lot. Kotka admits that the aim of 10 million might turn out to be just a marketing slogan, but he says that we need to think big. PhotobyMichaelSoo SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 29
  29. 29. Wouldn’t it be great to travel to a foreign country and have a friend waiting there? Isn’t it much easier and more interesting to visit a country you have never been to accompanied by a local buddy who tells you about the best sites and dangers to avoid? This is the logic behind the Estonian Business Ambassador Network: to have a global business family which helps exporters new to the market with experience and contacts to make market entry smoother. Enterprise Estonia is the Estonian national export and investment agency which has brought this network to life. “We saw so many friends of Estonia willing to contribute and help; however, there was no good framework on the business side for this. I believe the Esto- nian Business Ambassador Network will serve as a framework to connect companies which need assistance in export markets with business people who are willing to help. No less important is the fact that with this network we can extend our export pro- motion organisation in a clever and resource-efficient way to far away markets“ explains Indrek Pällo, from Enterprise Estonia, who is behind the idea. However, the network is not only for assist- ing exporters, but also, with the help of Business Ambassadors, the aim is to collect interesting investment leads from countries and companies which so far have been unreachable for Estonia, as they are without direct coverage from Enterprise Estonia. Jana Krimpe, who resides and conducts business in Azerbaijan, was the first Estonian Business Ambassador to sign up. “Estonia does not have a physical diplomatic presence in Azerbaijan, but it is very important to me to develop relations between the two countries. I am active in local business and I think Esto- nian companies have a lot to offer Azerbaijan. Therefore, I have made myself available to the Estonian Business Ambassador Network. I be- lieve I can assist and provide insight, which is necessary when entering the market here,“ says Krimpe, who mainly works on conveying the Estonian e-Governance and IT experience to Azerbaijan. When the network is launched in summer 2014, the Estonian companies will have a busi- ness friend to contact and guide them in mar- kets unknown to them. “We hope that good news travels fast and we hope that Estonian companies find this network and use it active- ly. We also wish to see a lot of Business Am- bassadors join the network so that in a year´s time we have 70-80 countries covered,” says Pällo, shedding light on the future ambitions of the network. If you would like more information or to be- come an Estonian Business Ambassador, please contact trade@eas.ee ESTONIAN BUSINESS AMBASSADOR NETWORK: THE GLOBAL BUSINESS FAMILY OF ESTONIA Jana Krimpe Indrek Pällo LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER30 I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
  30. 30. Welcome To The Estonian Time MachineBy Holger Roonemaa “For our foreign visitors, it is like a time-machine, offering a glimpse into the future!” exclaims the technology evangelist Indrek Vimberg. The time machine in question is the new e-estonia.com show- room, which will open in Tallinn’s Ülemiste City be- fore Midsummer’s Day. When Life in Estonia visited the e-estonia.com showroom in the last days of May, it still smelled of freshly cut birch wood. The showroom walls are covered in Estonian birch wood and the entire design concept, from clothes hangers to the Threod drones hanging on the ceiling, was designed in Estonia. Back to the time machine. The newly opened showroom is called “version 1.5” because its predecessor, “version 1”, was the Estonian ICT Demo Centre, which opened its doors five years ago. During the past five years, more than 1,300 delegations visited the Demo Centre, among them ten presidents, around twenty prime ministers, numerous ministers and business delegations. “Like all good things, the Demo Centre had outlived its time: five years tends to be the maximum lifes- pan of a project of this kind. Therefore, we needed an entirely new concept and, when we found great new rooms in Ülemiste City, we created a new solution,” explains Indrek Vimberg. Indrek Vimberg SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 31
  31. 31. Vimberg keeps referring to the showroom as a time-machine because for many foreign delegations visiting Estonia what they see and experi- ence here is often stuff of the future. “We have implemented many excellent IT solutions which improve the standard of living of the people in Estonia and, in order to explain and demonstrate those life-changing solutions, foreign visitors who come to the new showroom benefit from a central location and a guided tour by an expert,” Vimberg explains. This means that in order to experience how one can start a new com- pany in twenty minutes or sign a contract with one’s mobile phone regardless of location, you need to have an Estonian e-identity and knowledge of how to do it. Of course, business tourists to Estonia lack this knowledge. “This is why we brought all of our e-solutions into one location where we can paint a clear picture of Estonian e-opportunities and the positive impact they have,” he continues. What people see and hear in the showroom is a real experience. “Be prepared for something special. It will change the way you think,” promises Vimberg. His five years of experience at the ICT Demo Cen- tre has shown him that nobody is left untouched. “People leave here astonished. Nobody has left without being positively influenced,” he confirms. The showroom has a simple advantage. Instead of making your way through dozens of Estonian government departments, boards, ICT companies and start-ups, spending an hour here and another one there, one location gives you an overview within just an hour and a half. The new showroom consists of two parts: the “theatre part”, where visitors receive a fast and detailed presentation about e-Estonia, and the “gallery”, where everyone can get hands on experience with develop- ments. “It is one thing to talk about the average Internet-voter needing two minutes to cast a vote or the five minutes it takes to fill in a tax declaration. But it is another thing to test those things on your own.” Vimberg estimates that the ICT Demo Centre was one of the most vis- ited locations by business and political delegations to Estonia. But now he plans to double visitor numbers in the new, larger and more modern showroom. This means hosting at least two delegations a day. “When you travel around the world, you visit many attractions but do not re- member many of them. We hope that the visitor will experience a para- digm shift which is hard to forget,” he says, adding that although the showroom does not have official opening times, it opens its doors to visitors on request, even on weekends and during non-business hours. COMMENT Mike Gault / CEO, Guardtime The showroom is an incredible asset for Estonian companies. In Guardtime’s case, we have had the opportunity to be introduced to senior public and private sector executives, which has led to over 10M USD in new business for our company. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER32 I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
  32. 32. e-estonia.com showroom Opening times: upon request Delegation size: up to 54 people Duration of presentation: 1 hr 30 mins Admission: free Location: Ülemiste City, five minute drive from the airport, 10-minute drive from Tallinn city centre. Additional information and bookings at www.e-estonia.com “The only thing we ask is to reserve the time for a visit a week ahead.” Vimberg says that states cannot just copy-paste public sector e-servic- es and the showroom is the connection between the know-how and know-who. “Our goal is to show what technology enables us to do and to offer people a different way of looking at things. In addition, we can definitely help with our experience and know-who. We offer a complete overview of the Estonian ICT sector network and we guarantee to be able to put you in touch with the right contacts,” promises Vimberg. In addition, he emphasizes that the showroom and its team can help visitors to pitch smart ideas in their home countries. “Invite us to visit and we will come and explain how analogous ideas have changed the way things are done in Estonia.” Vimberg has through the years done this in twenty countries all over the world. One of the aims of the showroom is definitely to raise international awareness of Estonia, but the other aim is more pragmatic. “The results of our work should be seen in the export numbers of companies,” says Vimberg. The predecessor of the showroom and the Export Cluster project, perhaps not directly, led to the export turnover of partner com- panies growing 250 per cent over the last three years. “We offer good support for Estonian ICT companies and we create an additional com- petitive edge for the entire industry. Public and private sectors together can package the Estonian e-success story. Through cooperative efforts, we are able to stand out in the world and be equal partners with such giants as Amazon, Daimler and Ericsson.” Although the e-Estonia showroom, version 1.5, opened its doors just a few days ago, Vimberg is already thinking of version 2.0. “It will be called ICT Lighthouse. It would be fantastic if we could open its doors by the end of the decade here at the old water tower of Ülemiste City.” This would open up an entirely new dimension of the time machine by using the four existing floors of the historic water tower and adding an- other two floors. The sketches of ver- sion 2.0 already exist on paper… See you in the time machine of e-Estonia! SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 33
  33. 33. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER34 I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS Although large shoe factories are a thing of the past in Estonia, original shoe design has not vanished into thin air. On the contrary, there are more and more craftsmen and, although there are just a few designers creating hand- made footwear, those shoes never fail to draw attention to their wearer. Will shoe design remain a pleasure of the select few or grow into a significant branch of the economy? Life in Estonia presents three new shoe designers and shoe brands that boldly confront mass production with their own unique styles. Estonia has a long history of large-scale shoe production and export. But today nobody re- members Kommunaar (which grew out of the Union factory of the first republic) or Põhjala, the once famous producer of rubber boots. Surprisingly, the design of unique handmade footwear is now developing in Estonia and first steps are being taken to start production. These days handmade shoes are just as special as tailor-made clothes: although they are more expensive, they have a definite edge over mass production when it comes to comfort and fit. After all, they have been created especially for the wearer. Designer shoes enable the wearer to stand out from the masses, because they are not available on the high street. Estonian Shoe Design Picking Up The Pace By Maris Takk / Estonian Design Centre Exclusively for men Sille Sikmann’s brand Schekmann (after the Baltic German name of her family, which means “stylish man” in German) designs shoes and boots exclusively for men, mostly out of compassion for men who have always had to make do with brown and black footwear as opposed to the more diverse choice available for ladies. The brand Schekmann was born out of the desire to enrich the wardrobe of local style-conscious and inde- pendent men with extravagant and unique shoes and boots. In addition to footwear, Schekmann offers other stylish accessories for men, includ- ing braces, wallets and bags. The products are made of genuine leather, inside the shoe and on the sole. “The men who wear my creations are bold enough to be themselves,” says the designer. Regardless of the fact that it is women who show more interest in Sille Sikmann’s designs than men, the designer has no plans to start designing shoes for wom- en, instead leaving them with the pure joy of shopping for presents. www.scheckmann.com
  34. 34. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 35 Handmade shoes Contemporary Estonian shoe design has been strongly influenced by the passion and success of the designer Kaspar Paas. Having won the Young Designer Award SÄSI in 2007, Kaspar decided to continue his training in England, where he made shoes for several years at the old- est still working shoe company in London, John Lobb. Shoes are made- to-measure there and a pair of shoes can set you back 3,500-4,000 GBP. Boots are even more expensive. Kaspar even got the chance to create a pair of shoes for Prince Charles. Today the shoe designer is back in Estonia working on his new collection, but he is in such high demand that he still receives orders from Lobb and does the work from Estonia. Trendy footwear for summer and winter Studio Nahk is a newcomer on the Estonian shoe design landscape. The people behind the design company are Karin Kallas and Erik Past, who use special self-developed lasts, which adapt to the foot, and shoe designs which are specifically tailored for the Nordic foot type. The designs by Studio Nahk are meant for active women who like to wear extra comfortable but pretty footwear whilst going on about their eve- ryday business. The selection ranges from black masculine high boots to rainbow-coloured moccasins and ballerinas, to tailor-made wedding shoes. The top, inner lining and the sole are made of leather, and all shoes are handmade in the studio. In addition to shoes, there is a selec- tion of handbags and other leather accessories available. The seasonal collections are issued twice a year, but only a limited num- ber of ready-made sizes are made and the work is based on orders. Thus each model can be adapted to the customers’ feet and wishes. www.stuudionahk.com Led by the Estonian Design Centre and the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia in London, the exhibition “Fashion Now: Estonia” opened dur- ing the London Fashion Week in February. Marit Ilison, Kärt Põldmann and Jonurm and Sille Sikmann presented their fashion, shoe and acces- sory collections at the exhibition. “Estonian designers have the unique skill of working with materials and merging old handicraft techniques with a contemporary approach,” commented Anna Orsini, from the British Council of Fashion, who vis- ited Estonia and met all of the designers presented at the exhibition. “I would really like to complement the designers on the high level of ex- hibiting their collections and the photography”, she added. The fashion specialist with over twenty-five years of experience in the field had only praise for the state of Estonian fashion.
  35. 35. LIFE IN ESTONIA I 2014 SUMMER36 I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS Kärt Põldmann creates shoes for hedonists The shoe designer Kärt Põldmann creates special shoes, which are definitely not meant to be worn every day. She likes to say that the shoes she designs are simple, yet speak volumes: like a sparkle in the eye. Those stylishly glossy creations are the best companions for people who love life, dreaming and champagne. Wearing them will make you feel like a prince or a princess. Kärt, who claims that it is by pure chance that she became a shoe designer, says that she does not think about numbers, but focuses on the magical side of shoe-design, enchanted by fairy-tales, legends, customs, traditions and symbols which are related to shoes. The designer uses quality Italian patent leather and boxcalf, velvet and silk, as well as plant-based leather for the inner lining. The designs are simple and laconic, mostly consisting of “one-cut” shoes, the special feel coming from small tassels, piping, borders and so on. “I believe that the wearer of my shoes stands tall even without having 10-cm heels on,”says Kärt about her designs. Kärt studied leather design at the Tartu Arts School and the Estonian Academy of Arts (both BA and MA). Her shoes have received a great deal of international attention at exhibitions in Finland, Latvia, Germany, Great Britain, France and Spain. www.kartpoldmann.com
  36. 36. SUMMER 2014 I LIFE IN ESTONIA 37 Reval Denim Guild The First Denim Guild In The World MINU is a denim brand with a difference. Dedicated to excellence and innovation, it invites you into the world of vision to explore the possibilities of denim and its endless flexibility over time. Inspired by a vibrant heritage, it was brought to life by Sten Karik and Joan Hint in their native Tal- linn (known as Reval from the 13th century until 1917, and from 1941-1944), one of the oldest capital cities in northern Europe. In 2010, after months of research on Tallinn’s long forgotten roots and traditional craft heritage, the MINU brand was finally born.

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