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Tartu Ülikool

Business accelerator programme helps technology-based companies grow into unicorns

On 25 October, investors and founders of unicorns gathered at the Estonian National Museum (ERM) in Tartu to help 18 technology startups grow into billion-dollar businesses. The event was organised within the Creative Destruction Lab Estonia (CDL-Estonia) business accelerator programme. Over the next eight months, the startups and investors participating in the programme will meet to identify the investment needs.

“Everyone knows that Estonia is the absolute world leader in startups, with a total of ten unicorns, or companies worth over a billion dollars, already established here. Compared to the rest of Europe, startups have attracted the most venture capital here, so Estonia is becoming a real money magnet and platform for startups,” said Andres Kuusik, Professor of Marketing at the University of Tartu and one of the leaders of CDL-Estonia.

Few people know how to succeed in international business and technology competition. On 25 October, the unicorn founders and investors who have helped build Skype, Veriff, Pipedrive, Xolo, Fortumo, Proteus Digital Health, UpHabit, and many other companies that have found success in Estonia and elsewhere in the world, came together to ERM in Tartu. Their common goal is to help new technology-based companies also grow into unicorns.

According to Andres Kuusik, 18 companies with the highest potential were selected for the programme through a tight selection process, and the development of their business models and growth and financing strategies will start in the coming months. Some of the best-known among the selected companies are LightCode Photonics, which is developing 3D camera software; Timbeter, which is developing a digital timber measurement solution; and Avokaado, which offers a digital workspace for contract management.

CDL-Estonia is the second major project alongside code/Jõhvi in which prominent Estonian IT experts contribute to the education system. Over the next five years, they will invest more than €1 million; the same amount of support is provided by Vabamu investors from the USA and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. 

CDL is an international non-profit business accelerator that has helped develop more than 2,300 companies in its 12 years of operation. CDL alums have grown their companies’ combined equity to over $15 billion. According to Kadri Ukrainski, Professor of Research and Innovation Policy at the University of Tartu and one of the leaders of CDL-Estonia, the CDL methodology has thus been tried and tested over a long term, and its success will be soon seen in Estonia.

The event was organised by the University of Tartu School of Economics and Business Administration. The participants also included the representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and University of Tartu researchers and students.

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