Posted May 2, 2013


The Digital Tiger of Europe, Visits the Waterloo Region

President Looks to Strengthen Two-Way Trade

Kitchener - On May 3rd,Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves will be visiting Waterloo Region with 20 delegates from the Estonian government, academic and business sectors with the goal of opening dialogue, strengthening two-way trade and identifying synergist business opportunities between Estonia and Waterloo Region.

When you think of a country like Estonia, it might not occur to you to put “Information & Communications Technology” at the top of things that come to mind. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth; few realize that this small country brought us tech giant Skype.

Re-establishing its independence just a short 22 years ago, Estonia has progressed into digitizing almost all basic societal processes - they collect over 25% of their electoral votes online, they file 95% of their tax returns online, and they’re also known for filling 95% of prescriptions online, too.

How, you might ask, does a country manage this level of interaction? Simple... they have built a trustworthy online identification system that is, to say the least, extremely secure. In fact, Estonia’s foundational strengths are in digital technologies and cyber defenses.

Leading Estonia in its digital revolution is President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who has spoken and written extensively on ICT, cyber security and e-governance around the world. President Ilves is a past Chairman of the EU Task Force on eHealth (May 2011 to May 2012) and, as of November 2012, at the behest of the European Commission, he is the current Chairman of the European Cloud Partnership Steering Board.

With such a unique background, it’s no wonder that President Ilves is so keen on exploring Waterloo Region, a place that prides itself on its thriving, internationally recognized Information & Communications Technologies sector.

"Estonia has been called the 'Silicon Valley' of Northern Europe - we produce more tech startups per head of population than any other European country. We invested in ICT, initially to overcome our backwardness after the occupation, and by now we have leapfrogged many Western nations. To keep growing and developing, we seek partnerships both in Europe and the wider world. As a vibrant centre of ICT and innovation, the Waterloo Region is certainly a place we'd like to know more about - and work together with," stated Estonian President Ilves.

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