A rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the brightest and most ingenious minds in Estonian technology is set to be launched in Toronto on November 14 and 15.
Latitude 44, a conference aimed at bringing together key players in the technology world from Estonia and Canada is being combined with Estonian Music Week in Toronto this year - a double-bill of creativity and innovation.
The conference will take place at the WE Global Learning Centre in downtown Toronto and Estonian Music Week is November 14 – 17 at various venues throughout the city.
Co-founder and director of Latitude 44 Eric Morrison, former vice-president of CTV News and past president of Canadian Press, has been working non-stop with a team of other volunteers – and a network of presenters from Estonia and beyond – to bring these singular minds to Toronto.
Eric is excited about how the conference is unfolding, and offers a glimpse into what will be happening, and what makes these presenters tick:
What can delegates expect to see at the conference?
There are some amazing things going on in Estonia, and the products and services that have been developed reflect remarkable ingenuity. For example, we’ll be seeing some fascinating Estonian inventions in robotics: robotic delivery devices, robotic printing through a service called Spray Printer that allows you to spray paint the side of a building via your smart phone – even a robot snow plow!
Another interesting invention is a hydroponic kitchen garden designed for restaurants, where they can literally grow food on the wall. And there is a personal recognition system that identifies users by the way they type on their keyboard. We’ll also be seeing a lot of AI-related services and a virtual marketplace that enables tutors to work with students.
Why does Estonia produce so many smart technological entrepreneurs?
As probably everyone knows by now, Estonia is the world’s truly digital society. Government services and information are online and 44% of people vote online and can do so from anywhere in the world. People in this country grow up this way, it is very natural for them.
It’s also very easy for anyone to set up a business in Estonia and the government encourages this. So many start-ups have set up shop here, and moved way beyond the start-up phase to become full-fledged, successful businesses. It results in a very thriving technology culture.
How do you make a dent in this scattered, fast and furious marketplace?
There are two vital things: you have to fulfill a real need that will make a person’s life simpler, easier and cheaper. It has to be valuable and important to them. You can’t have a product in search of a market.
And as an entrepreneur you have to be very determined and dedicated.
What do these presenters have to offer delegates?
In one word, opportunity. Delegates could find a lucrative partnership arrangement, a good business to invest in or perhaps provide a service to a company for someone wanting to expand. Meeting Estonian business people may also enable a business here to enter the sizable EU market, or find some valuable tech talent.
What can Canada and Estonia learn from each other?
Estonia has had to create trust in e services, and that is a huge accomplishment. We don’t have that trust here and we need to build it. Estonia has also learned to build the infrastructure to do so very economically through public-private partnerships.
Canada offers Estonians a like-minded, civilized and multicultural society and a soft entry point into the North American market. We have a good start-up environment here as well, great tech talent and a strong and interested Estonian community with good skill sets.
What do you hope will happen at this conference?
We want to strengthen the two-way bridge that we have started to build here. I hope this becomes an annual event, a sister conference to Latitude59 that takes place in Tallinn, Estonia every year. We are creating as well a virtual social community so the connections and momentum can be made.
We have been successful already with creating a strong digital effect - as we’ve been organizing, hundreds of thousands of connections have been made via social media. It’s been an incredible experience so far.
For more information on Latitude44 and Estonian Music Week, please go to: https://www.latitude44to.ca/ . https://www.estonianmusicweek.ca/. Twitter: @latitude44TO. Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram: Latitude44Toronto.