The Estonian IT sector gave out its annual awards

March 28, 2024

The Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications has awarded the yearly winners of the IT sector.

The title Doer of the Year 2023 was awarded to Ericsson Eesti AS; Deed of the Year 2023 was the creation of the Centre for Applied Research; Idea of the Year 2023 was the move of the Health Insurance Fund to the cloud; Collaboration of the Year 2023 was the cyber security campaign implemented in partnership with IT companies; and Breakthrough of the Year 2023 was the space technology company Value.Space.

“For more than 25 years, the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL) has been recognising people whose ideas, initiatives, or activities have had a significant impact on our sector in Estonia or on Estonian life in general,” explains Doris Põld, CEO of the ITL. “We monitor the success stories of companies in the sector throughout the year, and give members and partners the opportunity to make suggestions on who to nominate. The final decisions are made by the board of the ITL. This year, it was decided to award five prizes.”

The board of the ITL would like to acknowledge the decision of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to create the Centre for Applied Research (tasks to be carried out by AS Metrosert) with the technology sector’s Deed of the Year 2023 award. Doris Põld says that when comparing countries around the world, it is clear that those countries with dedicated applied research centres separate from traditional universities are able to increase the volume of R&D in business. “The creation of such a centre in Estonia is a significant step that will help to make a major leap forward in more successfully linking science and business and enable companies open to innovation to collaborate with researchers to implement research results in industry and the economy. In doing so, they can add value over time by creating more complex and expensive products and services.”

According to Sandra Särav, Deputy Secretary General at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the vision of creating a centre for applied research in AS Metrosert is to pave the way between R&D activities and the business sector, especially the industry. “We are deeply grateful to the ITL for this recognition. Thanks to the Centre for Applied Research, we will be able to foster collaboration between researchers and businesses, focusing mainly on forward-looking areas such as biorefining, drone technologies, autonomous vehicles, hydrogen technologies, and the use of health data. It is in these areas that we see the greatest potential for the Estonian economy. We want to provide a platform that enables the scaling of research results for industrial use. Such an approach not only promotes the knowledge-based economy, but also creates new opportunities for our businesses, helping them to develop products and services that are more sophisticated and have higher added value.”

The board of the ITL would like to recognise the Health Insurance Fund for its move to the cloud with the technology sector’s Idea of the Year 2023 award. “The move of the public sector to the private cloud, i.e., the migration of the databases of the Health Insurance Fund and the Prescription Centre from physical servers to cloud-based data hosting, is one of the most progressive steps in recent times,” says Põld. “It shows a new way of thinking and could be an inspiring idea for other public sector organisations to follow. For private entrepreneurs, cooperation with the state is very important. We expect national IT development centres to be bold and efficient in developing their services in partnership with the private sector!”

According to Rain Laane, Chairman of the Management Board of the Health Insurance Fund, the move to the cloud service is a long-prepared change in the Health Insurance Fund that will ensure better security, reliability, and economic sustainability compared to a physical server. “In more common terms – the data of people is better protected, there are fewer or no potential system failures, the costs of the system are more predictable economically, and the state saves money in the long run,” says Laane.

The board of ITL would like to recognise Ericsson Eesti AS with the technology sector’s Doer of the Year 2023 award for the fact that the Ericsson Corporation made a geopolitically bold decision to invest in the construction of a next-generation production and technology centre in Tallinn during an economically challenging time. “More than 2,000 smart workers contribute to the creation of added value in the Estonian unit of Ericsson, which has long been the most competitive industrial company with the highest turnover in Estonia,” explains Põld. The new innovation centre will bring together the laboratories, R&D activities, new product manufacturing, and the office side of the electronics manufacturer operating in Estonia. “In addition to the money that will be invested, the centre will have an impact on research in Estonia, on providing challenges for talent, on increasing added value, and on the wider economic environment.”

Sirli Männiksaar, CEO of Ericsson Estonia: “Our vision is to create a centre of future technologies and smart manufacturing that is not only digital, but also environmentally friendly and sustainable. Today, Ericsson Estonia is more than a factory – we are a next-generation telecom product development unit with innovation and top talent at its core. We play a strategic role in the global supply chain of Ericsson, accounting for a large part of the industrialisation of its 5G products. In 2023, we were also awarded the title of the Most Competitive Industrial Company of the Year in Estonia. Tallinn is home to exciting Industry 4.0 solutions, the only stand-alone 5G private network in the Baltics, and world-class experts developing the latest communications network equipment for customers around the world. This motivates Ericsson to invest in Estonia – to build a next-generation smart manufacturing and technology centre in Tallinn. We will continue to develop a fit-for-purpose organisation, our mindset, and our skills to strengthen R&D and product development, but to do this, we need a new environment that enables unrestricted collaboration, both physically and virtually, between humans and robots. The new technology centre will provide additional efficiency as we consolidate the existing four locations and create a new innovative environment that is attractive to employees, partners, customers, and investors alike. We are grateful to the ITL for the recognition and, of course, for the systematic cooperation.”

The board of the ITL would like to recognise the start-up Value.Space with the technology sector’s Breakthrough of the Year 2023 award for raising 2.1 million euros in investments over the summer. “The competitiveness of the Estonian economy could rely on new knowledge and deep-technology models,” says Põld. “This is exactly the kind of future technology Value.Space is offering. They stand out because they have taken on a globally important topic that is connected to everything around us.” According to the founders of the company, by using and enriching massive space data via satellite, it will be possible to detect changes in or around large objects such as dams, sediment basins, and energy and manufacturing infrastructure. Value.Space is focused on identifying changes that may indicate risks in structures. “The technology and methods of these risk analyses will enable the analysis of data to provide a service to, for example, insurance and financial markets. We wish them a great breakthrough!”

Agu Leinfeld, co-founder of Value.Space: “We are creating the largest infrastructure alarm system of the world. Our aim is to prevent losses that arise as a result of slow but high-impact change. Our work will help the world to better cope with the impact of climate change on both natural and man-made structures. Both insurance and financial markets will be affected by climate change and ageing infrastructures. In fact, through the price of shares in large companies, the impact of these changes can be felt by anyone with assets in, say, a pension fund. The only way not to pay for all this is to start preventing accidents with new technologies.”

The board of the ITL would like to give the technology sector’s Collaboration of the Year 2023 award to the cyber security campaign for SMEs, implemented on the basis of an idea by members of the ITL, where the Association looked for a company to attack. “Cybercrime is a real thing with real business risks, and unfortunately, the number of companies that fall victim to cyber attacks is increasing,” says Põld. “The members of the Cybersecurity Advisory Board of the ITL are concerned that as they digitise their products and services, companies are forgetting their own vulnerability in cyberspace. In implementing the campaign, it was powerful to see how many member companies dedicated their time to make entrepreneurs in other sectors in Estonia more aware of protecting their business.”

Kalev Pihl, Head of the Information Security Working Group of the ITL: “The companies that participated in the campaign highlighted the importance of our mission and contributed to building a long-term programme of good practice. This programme will focus on fostering cooperation in the ICT sector, harmonising the security of services, and simplifying services for customers. The whole campaign received overwhelmingly positive feedback from all participants. We can raise the level of cybersecurity by addressing risks in a practical and simple way, which allows the importance of the issue to be widely shared with different organisations. Many thanks to all the companies that supported us.” The following participated in the campaign: Estonian ICT ClusterCGI Eesti ASCYBERSCyberarch Consulting OÜCybExer Technologies OÜLean Digital OÜMicrosoft Estonia OÜOIXIO ASRiigi Infosüsteemi Amet CERT-EE, SK ID Solutions ASSwedbank ASWisercat Estonia OÜ.  Communication partners: ITL, CYBERS, RIA, Elisa Eesti AS, Swedbank AS, Microsoft Estonia OÜ.  Video production: Vaas OÜ. The production was financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the framework of the Estonian ICT cluster project.

Photos: Joanna Jõhvikas

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ITL, 28 March 2024