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Estonia launches legal sandbox for UK startups

Estonia UK startups sandbox
Image credit: LN.Vector pattern / Shutterstock

The Estonian government is launching a legal sandbox for UK startups to test new regulations aimed at removing “bottlenecks” that hamper innovation.

The sandbox is being launched by Accelerate Estonia, a government-backed innovation lab. UK tech companies will be supported by Oxford-based consultancy Oxentia.

A launch event on 6 March in London will see 10 UK startups pitch for a place in the first cohort.

The sandbox – a testing ground for companies supervised by regulatory institutions – will look to identify legal and regulatory obstacles for UK businesses.

Estonia will then explore making legislative amendments in the Baltic state, based on these findings.

“The pace at which technology evolves often outstrips regulatory frameworks, creating a bottleneck for innovation,” said Anett Numa, head of government relations and communication at Accelerate Estonia.

“We eliminate these bottlenecks by implementing these legislative changes with state support, helping entrepreneurs turn challenges into new market opportunities. Estonia’s advanced digital infrastructure allows us to offer a unique proposition – a testbed where companies can thrive without the usual legislative delays, promoting technological innovation at a global scale.”

Businesses selected for the sandbox will participate in a pilot, which can be attended in-person in Estonia or virtually.

Estonia has a strong track record for embracing digital innovation. It became the first fully digitised government, with citizens able to vote and manage medical records online.

In 2017, it became the first European country to formally legalise ride-sharing at a national level. Bolt, Estonia’s answer to Uber, was one of the companies to benefit from these changes. It is now valued at $8.4bn.

Estonia has sought to position itself as a European launching point for UK companies. It ran a post-Brexit campaign promoting its e-residency service for UK firms, which lets them register as a business in Estonia.

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