Technology intensive start – ups in Estonia
Publication date: 31 March 2020 | Report language: ET
Startup Estonia commenced a study from Technopolis Group Baltics on research commercialisation in Estonia. The main aim was to understand what the state of play in research commercialisation in Estonia is, specifically how many university spin-offs are there, in which sectors they operate, what are their drivers and obstacles and which systems universities have in place to support spin-offs. During the study 64 active spin-offs were identified, 97% of those were created by two Estonian biggest universities – Tartu University and Tallinn University of Technology. In total, spin-offs constitute only 0.05% from the total number of SMEs and 6.5% from all start-ups in Estonia. The most, 33% of spin-offs operate in biotechnology, 16% in ICT and 11% in health sector – this is in well correlation with Estonian smart specialisation areas. As it comes to sales, only 30% of active spin-offs have considerable economic activity and about 70% are ’one-professor firms’ delivering services only where there is a demand.
Researchers find the most challenging sitting on three chairs at the same time – teaching, doing research and developing a company – they lack time performing on expected level, thus one day they need to choose whether to continue academic career or focus on entrepreneurship. Here the role of universities’ Knowledge and Technology Transfer Offices becomes crucial – supporting researchers with relevant knowledge on Intellectual Property and offering support with sales and marketing skills. It was observed that the biggest gap in knowledge and funding of spin-offs is between Technology Readiness Levels 4-6, where prototype is ready and tested in lab, and has to be tested now in real market – getting the first paying client is the most challenging for a spin-off. The study concluded that universities has central role in research commercialisation – to bring research as quickly as possible to the market and serve society.
Find an English summary of the report here.