Estonia looks at the art of cooperation between the public and private sectors in Eindhoven

Estonia is one of the frontrunners in digitalisation and e-government. But in the Baltic country, there is a lack of coordination between the various public and private sectors. A delegation of thirty Estonian officials wants to learn more about digital transformation models in Eindhoven. Particular emphasis is placed on collaboration to promote innovation.

During their 3-day stay in the city, they get a lot of information about the Brainport Region and they study examples of successful private-public collaboration. Two more delegations will visit the region in the coming months.

“The overall goal of our training program is to train all top Estonian officials – around one hundred people – to become experts in digital strategy and digital transformation. Each of these officials goes through four sessions in Estonia and one abroad,” explains Linnar Viik, Head of Delegation and President of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – EIT.

“One aspect where we are not very strong is something that the Netherlands is good at: establishing partnerships between different authorities and defining problems jointly,” Viik added.

The triple helix model for innovation was originally invented in the early 1990s by Loet Leydesdorff and Henry Etzkowitz. The model is based on the interaction between three different actors: academia, business and the public sector. Such a model is also used in Eindhoven, where various local parties interact to promote innovation and the region’s well-being.

“Estonia is really good at software development, while social development is not that far ahead. What they can learn from the city is the role it plays in bringing everyone straight to the table, ”emphasizes Peter Kentie. He was recently appointed Estonian Honorary Consul for Eindhoven.

“What’s really interesting about Estonia is that everyone is connected in one way or another. Yet people do not work together too much. They can benefit from the openness of the Eindhoven region,” says Kentie.


Kaupo Heinma is the Deputy Secretary-General of the Estonian Ministry of the Environment. “Despite the high level of e-government services, we lack cooperation between different parties. We need innovation. If the parties do not work together, the results are much less than if they work together. ”


To pave the way for innovation – and make life easier for start-ups and innovators – the role of the patent office is crucial. In this context, the Estonian Patent Office tries to be as open as possible.

“It was quite complicated for companies in Estonia to file a patent. Thanks to e-government services, it is now possible to perform all the necessary steps online. In addition, we have published several guides to explain all the procedures, ”explains Margus Viher, Director General of the Estonian Patent Office. Viher points out that local political issues sometimes hamper cooperation. “These days we are inspired by the practices here. And hopefully we will succeed in stimulating innovation in Estonia as well, ”says Viher.

Innovation does not just happen

Estonia was the first country to completely transition to a fully digital government. All public services are available digitally. Linnart Viik worked to make this possible. It was one of the most important innovation processes the country has been through.

Viik: “When you do something that no one has done before, it is very difficult to imagine what will happen next. There are many expectations. Many people think that innovation happens from one day to the next. But it is not so. You need to be prepared. Innovation has to happen every day, you have to build things step by step. It’s like running a marathon: you have to train for it. ”

The Estonian expertise in e-government is something that the Netherlands can also benefit from. ” In Estonia, people spend as much on the costs charged for their e-government as on a Spotify account. In most countries it is ten times more per. inhabitant. We found out how to make public services twice as fast and ten times cheaper, ”concludes Viik.

Photo: One of the sessions in Eindhoven

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