The Estonian government today announces that it is globally launching its Digital Testbed Framework, inviting anyone around the world to come and build or try out their groundbreaking new ideas, prototypes, products or whole new digital services, in a world-leading digital government setting. The deadline for applications is 10th October 2021.
The Digital Testbed Framework is a new and innovative collaboration model looking to attract partners globally. It gives start-ups, scale-ups and all govtech innovators, access to the technologies and experience of world-leading digital government of Estonia – in return for free use of the resulting novel solution.
The initiative has been designed with simplicity and efficiency in mind. Users can produce government-level IT solutions safely and quickly, via live-market testing and approval in a nation-wide digital government testbed, without having to navigate any red tape or lengthy sales or approval processes.
Through this cooperation model, users will have access to the government tech stack, know-how (and in some cases data) to help develop their own emerging commercial solutions. It also allows them to partner with one of the most digitally developed countries in the world to “rubber stamp” their ideas and obtain proof of concept.
Named ‘the most advanced digital society in the world’ by Wired magazine, Estonia is renowned for its modern, online government ecosystem that handles 99% of the country’s public services. The domestically tried-and-tested Digital Testbed Framework is integral to the government’s digital success, making this one of the most enticing government-as-a-platform collaborations to date.
For example, the Digital Testbed Framework has been used by the Estonian parliament and the Ministry of Education and Research to collaborate on reusable AI components, and the Estonian Health Board to create HOIA – the official COVID-19 exposure notification app for Estonia.
It’s also been deployed across applications such as the TEXTA Toolkit (which uses AI functionality to predict whether comments should or shouldn’t be published in public forums) as well as being hugely successful in helping the Police and Border Guard Board detect domestic violence cases.
Estonian minister of entrepreneurship and IT Andres Sutt said:
“In order to continue innovating and building our digital government, we believe in open partnerships and cooperation with the private sector. That’s why the Digital Testbed Framework was born. It is yet further proof how Estonia is not waiting for the future, but actively building it, we’re ready to be a pathfinder in digital government.”
Siim Sikkut, CIO of Estonia added:
“The problem many start-ups face today is that the environment for cooperation the public sector is built on is old, outdated and inflexible and this makes integration and collaboration difficult. As the saying goes, ‘there’s no need to reinvent the wheel,’ and that’s why we’re inviting anyone and everyone to use the same tech stack we use to run and build our own digital government, for free.
We want to partner with innovative people from all over the world and in a variety of sectors. Whether you’re a coder wanting help improve the digital services of Estonia, or an entrepreneur looking to test your solution with one of the most digitally advanced nations in the world – we’d love to connect with you.”
The release of the Digital Testbed Framework is further evidence of Estonia’s status as one of the most digitally advanced societies in the world. The first country to adopt online voting, almost all Estonian government services are now online. In 2002, a high-tech national ID system was launched, pairing physical ID cards with digital signatures that Estonians use to pay taxes, vote, do online banking and access their health care records.
Other key features of Estonia’s digital society are e-Residency, an initiative that allows individuals to start businesses in the country without living there and the digital nomad visa for employees that work remotely from any location worldwide.