Almost a 1,000 people have moved to Estonia on the two-year-old startup visa

The Estonian startup visa has allowed 931 people to move to the country within the past two years since it was launched.

Altogether, the startup visa programme received 1,108 applications, Startup Estonia said in a blog post.

“When in 2017 we had 167 employees and 107 founders relocate to Estonia, then in 2018, the numbers were significantly larger – 483 employees and 174 founders, meaning we saw a 236% growth in a year,” according to the organisation.

“The range of industries is very wide for the applications coming in, but there are some areas where the amount of applications exceeds others,” Startup Estonia said. “The most popular industries are fintech, business software/software as a service, medtech, consumer goods and hospitality with agritech, edtech and energy sector being the likely success stories in 2019.”

The top five countries where the employees and founders relocate to Estonia from are Ukraine, Brazil, Russia, United States and India.

Bringing in talent

The startup visa was launched on 18 January 2017. It was seen as a new opportunity for Estonian startups and the whole Estonian startup ecosystem for bringing in talent from all over the world and start developing an even more international and diverse community.

The applications are assessed by the seven-member committee (the members are Tehnopol, Garage48, Startup Leaders Club, Estonian Business Angels Network, Startup Wise Guys, Superangel and Startup Estonia). Companies applying to the startup status come from over 80 countries from all over the world, the top countries however have constantly been India, Russia and Turkey among many others.

Startup Estonia is a governmental initiative financed by the European Regional Development Fund, aimed at supercharging the Estonian startup ecosystem.


Cover: Top 10 countries by number of applications and success rate (courtesy of Startup Estonia).

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About the author: Sten Hankewitz

Sten Hankewitz is a lifelong journalist and Deputy Editor at Estonian World. Having lived in Estonia, Spain, the UK and all around the US, he now resides in Chicago, IL. He loves to write and besides working at Estonian World and doing some occasional blogging, he writes books and contributes to other outlets in Estonia, Israel and elsewhere. He has strong convictions and he shows them unashamedly. You can follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook or check out his personal blog. You can write to Sten at