The objective of the procurement is to increase the efficiency of the cooperation between universities, mentors and science-based teams operating in the early stages. “We’re looking for an experienced and professional partner that would create a business development programme, thereby helping the knowledge, discoveries and innovation of Estonian scientists find commercial outputs and supporting high-tech teams in the early stages develop their business concepts,” said Board Member at SmartCap Mari Vavulski.
The goal of the public procurement carried out by SmartCap within the scope of the Startup Estonia Programme is to find up to two business programme organisers, who would develop the services needed by high-tech entrepreneurs, support the launch of new innovative companies and their growth in the areas of smart specialisation, and establish a systematic and comprehensive process for the emergence of high-tech entrepreneurship in Estonia. The implementation of the high-tech company development programme will be financed with up to 1,400,000 euros.
“An internationally outstanding startup and innovation ecosystem is developing in Estonia, which has become possible due to the conscious development of the Estonian ecosystem for startups, the emergence of an active investor community, the sale of several successful startups and a business environment that is free of bureaucracy and promotes entrepreneurship,” said Vavulski. “However, surveys have confirmed the common knowledge that the development of high-tech entrepreneurship outside the ICT sector needs more investors, a network as well as mentors with the required knowledge.”
SmartCap started implementing the activities of the research accelerator of the Startup Estonia Programme starting from 2021. According to the Head of Startup Estonia Eve Peeterson, valuing high-tech business and the development of an ecosystem of high-tech companies is an important direction in the activities of Startup Estonia. “We can reach innovative solutions and the next level in the development of the sector through the commercialisation of science,” said Peeterson. “We must include more scientists in the startup sector and make our own activities more science-based. Supporting knowledge-based entrepreneurs through business development programmes is an important step welcomed by the market.”
Two surveys were carried out to map the high-tech startup entrepreneurship environment, which highlighted that Estonia lacks product development support for knowledge-intensive and high-tech startup entrepreneurs, which would accelerate investments. In addition to limited access to capital, it’s difficult for the entrepreneurs operating in knowledge-intensive fields to grow rapidly, as Estonia doesn’t have the required level of research and knowledge transfer. The surveys also revealed that the connection of Estonian universities to the startup capital market is too small and universities are generally not motivated to promote the emergence of spin-offs, as this is not their strategic goal.
The documents of the procurement “Services for the establishment and development of high-tech startups and development of a high-tech entrepreneurship ecosystem in Estonia” are accessible here: https://riigihanked.riik.ee/rhr-web/#/procurement/2982732/general-info.
The procurement will be carried out with the resources of the European Union structural and investment funds via the European Regional Development Fund in the research accelerator strand of the Startup Estonia Programme, which will be implemented by SmartCap. Tenders should be submitted by 7 June 2021.
SmartCap is small fund manager registered with the Financial Supervisory Authority, and since 2017, SmartCap has been operating as a subsidiary of Foundation KredEx. The fund assets managed by SmartCap are invested in venture capital funds which, together with private investors, place capital into research and technology-intensive early stage small and medium-sized companies with large international growth potential, mainly located in Estonia. The secondary activity of SmartCap is the implementation of the Startup Estonia Programme in the research accelerator strand since 2021.