I was recently offered the unique opportunity to join Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and a very prominent business delegation on a fact-finding mission to the USA in order to promote Estonia as an investment destination; and also to lay the groundwork for Estonian companies looking to access the US marketplace.
Members of the business delegation were exposed to an eye-opening display of highly contested issues at a round table gathering at the US Department of Commerce in Washington D.C. The number of topics on the table in EU-US relations is ever-increasing, as the two great economical powers are inching closer in cooperation platforms. One defining process that will shape the future of EU-US relations is the hopefully imminent signing of the TTIP Trans-Atlantic trade partnership agreement, set to open a plethora of opportunities for entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Another key process keenly anticipated in the US is the development of the European Union’s Digital Single Market, which should harmonize trade across the borders of the 28 EU member states.
The overwhelming feeling that we got during our open discussion with the representatives from various US investment agencies and government institutions is that contrary to some beliefs, the US is very open to European companies accessing its vast marketplace. There are numerous programs in place to help European businesses find their footing in continental US and to export their goods or services there. Select USA is the single point of contact at the national level for companies looking to start or grow their business in the United States, working one-on-one with investors to offer tools, data and other relevant information. For Estonian and European startups, the United States remains as one of the world’s most attractive consumer markets with 320 million people and an annual GDP of 17 trillion USD, making it an opportunity that is highly recommended to take advantage of. Accordingly, Hedman Partners has been involved with helping several Estonian emerging technology companies to transfer some of their operations overseas, including to the US.
We were fortunate to witness the pitching skills of talented Estonian entrepreneurs at two major US accelerators – the 1776 (www.1776.vc) and Eastern Foundry (www.eastern-foundry.com) – both serve as ideal starting points for newcomers wishing to enter the big game in the US.
There will be some events of interests happening both in the near future and in the long term. On June 2nd and 3rd, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will host a Transatlantic Economic Council in Tallinn to discuss opportunities and resources for collaboration between EU and US clusters, improving access to alternative sources of finance and the EU-US cooperation agreement on SMEs. Select USA will be hosting a grand summit in Washington on June 19-21 with great potential for matchmaking and learning about investment opportunities. Do not hesitate to contact either the local US Embassy or preferably, Hedman Partners for more advice on how to take your business across the borders.