JETRO Global Connection -Accelerate Innovation with Japan-

JETRO holds pitch program at flagship startup and tech event in Estonia

From Warsaw
September 2, 2020

Latitude59, one of the biggest startup and tech events in the Baltic states, was held in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, on August 27 and 28. This year’s event was the 12th one, and it was originally scheduled for the end of May. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay of three months. Normally, over 2,500 visitors gather from the Baltic states and other parts of the world. This year, for the same reason, namely, the pandemic, a “hybrid” format was used, which involved a limited number of actual visitors to indoor events and online participants. More specifically, 1,000 visitors were allowed physical attendance, and they were joined by an equal number of online participants, making the total turnout 2,000 people. The majority of the actual visitors were from Estonia, and the rest were mostly from neighboring Finland and Latvia. Normally, many Japanese visitors attend the event, but this year, there were travel restrictions, and about 100 participated online.

Latitude59 2020 risked being canceled due to the pandemic at one point, but fortunately, the situation in Estonia calmed down. As in previous years, Latitude59 2020 was blessed with many distinguished speakers. H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia, announced the opening of the event and joined the subsequent opening discussion.<

President Kaljulaid (second from left) in the opening discussion (JETRO photo)

From Japan, Fukuoka City, a sixth-time participant, operated a pitching competition online, and JETRO joined as a sponsor for the first time. JETRO organized an online pitch program titled “Japan’s Startup Ecosystem and Innovation in the New Normal Era ~Powered by JETRO~” on August 28. Details of the startup ecosystem as well as the activities and needs for open innovation in Japan were shared. In particular, the reverse pitches* by Japanese corporations drew much attention. Even though the program began rather early in the morning, many actual visitors representing startups and ecosystems arrived and more than 200 viewers joined the program online.

The online pitch program powered by JETRO (JETRO photo)

Ms. Maarja Pehk, CEO of Latitude59, expressed her willingness to work more closely with Japan, saying, "In recent years, more and more Japanese have become interested in Latitude59. The collaboration with JETRO has consolidated the ties between Japan and Estonia. I deeply regret that COVID-19 has made it impossible for many Japanese participants to come to Tallinn, but we would like to deepen the relationship even through the web.”

* Calls for collaboration to startups by established corporations looking for technical tie-ups or acquisitions.

(YOSHITO Tsubasa)

The entire online pitch program organized by JETRO is available for viewing on the following archived YouTube linkExternal site: a new window will open .

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