“Welcome to the land of unicorns,” Estonian President Alar Karis boldly said on May 25, 2023, to greet attendees at this year’s Latitude59 conference in Tallinn, Estonia. Together with Karis, Latitude59 CEO Liisi Org spoke at the opening ceremony to kick off the first day of the conference.
Both speakers emphasized the conference’s theme of resilience and impact. “The startup world isn’t pink unicorns anymore,” Org said. “It’s more than that.” The growing challenges and complexities of recent years only show our need to keep going, she says. According to Org, the tech sector is central to creating impact for society and the world.
“Let’s be bold. Let’s build the world we want. Let’s be present in the moment. Let’s enjoy Latitude59,” said Org
Concurring with Org about the evolving nature—and challenges—of the startup world, Karis said that most of the low-hanging fruit has already been taken.
“But that doesn’t mean there is no room for growth anymore,” he said. “Future growth has to come from innovation and new solutions that have never been tried before.” Referring to Estonia as “startup nation,” Karis said that this country is still the perfect place for new businesses and ideas.
A molecular scientist himself, Karis said that tech companies need to merge with science and “go deep.” He believes deep tech is the next big thing for Estonia’s economic progress and that science and innovation will lay the foundation for future technological success.
Although threats may appear to loom large—including the energy crisis, war in Ukraine, or crashes in banks or the economy—Karis said entering the unknown is the only way to reach the frontier of technology.
Former Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, one of the panelists for the first discussion, agreed with this. “The world has always been in crisis,” she said. “Don’t be discouraged.” During her time as President, despite various challenges, the startup sector in Estonia grew at an unprecedented rate. For Kaljulaid, risks are also opportunities for growth.
“We’re going to be confident, courageous, and brave,” said Kaari Kink, Latitude59 host. “That is the definition of being bold.”
Regardless of current or potential difficulties for individuals, businesses, and startups alike, this year’s Latitude59 theme prevails as a bright vision for the future: be bold, resilient, and create impact.