Estonia launches a national testbed for moonshot ideas

Estonia is bringing public and private partners together to test moonshot ideas that tackle complex problems the society is facing; a national testbed, called Accelerate Estonia, is an opportunity to experiment, validate and develop solutions that have strong value to the global economic space. 

Accelerate Estonia is a national platform for game changers to experiment, validate and solve global problems.

“Our vision is to be the most impactful platform for entrepreneurs experimenting with the public sector to solve global grand challenges. We want to punch above our weight by launching game-changing success stories,” Mikk Vainik, the head of Accelerate Estonia, said in a statement.

“We provide collaboration with policy owners and public sector influencers to identify systemic enablers and resolve constraints that help validate your moonshot in Estonia. We have a network of evangelists working inside the public sector for maximum collaboration and minimal friction,” Vainik noted, adding that Accelerate Estonia is covering the costs of the experiment.

Mikk Vainik. Photo by Accelerate Estonia.

“Wherever we look, the stress levels of different groups – students, parents, to-be-soldiers, the elderly, the young professionals – are going up in speed. Our society is leaking valuable individuals and that hurts us and the economy. The crisis may have raised the urgency, but we have been in need of help for a long time. The public health-care system no longer sustains that, and unhealthy habits must be turned into opportunities,” Vainik asserted.

Mental health and going green as focus topics

Data published by the World Health Organisation paints a sad picture of the mental health situation – the global economy loses about USD1 trillion per year in productivity due to depression and anxiety. But every USD1 invested in treating depression with therapy or antidepressants leads to a return of USD4 in better health outcomes and work abilities, Accelerate Estonia claims.

The second focus topic for the organisation is a green turn. “There is a lot of talk about the Green Pact, the Green Revolution, the fight against climate change but which concrete actions are set towards the goals in order to achieve them? Many questions still remain.”

“How can data give us a head start with the green turn mission? Or how to pioneer the creation of the recyclable materials market? Or how to get the maximum value out of all the food before it turns into waste? Whoever can answer these questions will enter the business world of hundreds of millions,” Vainik said.

An Accelerate Estonia event in September 2020. Photo by Accelerate Estonia.

Accelerate Estonia has also left the door open to ideas that do not coincide with the areas of mental health or the green turn.

We must be ready to react quickly

“Last year showed us clearly that we need to be ready for unexpected events and react accordingly. We do not know yet what 2021 will bring, but we must be ready to react quickly and utilise a timely opportunity. So, if you have a wild card for us that does not fit the other two missions, we should have a discussion.”

The programme recruits ideas all year round. Interested parties should search online for the organisation’s website.

Accelerate Estonia is a government-led organisation, powered by Science Park Tehnopol.

A moonshot, in a technology context, is an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term profitability or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of potential risks and benefits.

The term derives from the Apollo 11 spaceflight project, which landed the first human on the moon in 1969.

Cover: Single.Earth, a deep tech startup helping businesses and organisations make an impact on the environment by making climate action a part of the business processes, is part of Accelerate Estonia’s alumni.

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