NordicBaltic.Tech, a partnership between PUBLIC Denmark and the Nordic Council of Ministers, has been tracking initiatives and responses to Covid-19 from the public sector and startup ecosystems in the Nordic-Baltic Region. The Nordic Baltic Tech Startup Database showcases startups from across the region with technology solutions that combat the health, social and economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis. Though the crisis has had a devastating impact on many aspects of society and the economy, insights from our database show that the crisis has also spurred an increased interest in the GovTech sector. 

Covid-19 has resulted in remarkable collective action within and across countries, with private and public sector actors working together to flatten the curve and help the most vulnerable. The crisis has also drawn public attention to the role that technology can play in addressing large scale societal problems. Technology, delivered by startups, that enables a more effective and efficient delivery of public services is what we refer to as GovTech. Beyond HealthTech, technology for education, remote work, childcare, and collaboration have become particularly salient, and has sparked a growing interest in the broader GovTech sector.

Startups pivot to solve GovTech challenges

Startups who never previously considered working with Government or the public sector have pivoted to meet new demands and respond to unique challenges. For example, Natural Cycles, the Swedish fertility tracking app, built a Covid-19 symptom tracker into their product. When launching NordiciBaltic.tech we expected to receive a high level of engagement from HealthTech startups. However, we have been greatly encouraged by the engagement we have seen from a broad range of technology sectors. HealthTech startups constituted only 36% of startups that responded to our call for engagement, and only 35% of the startups in our database. Explore and browse the startup database on NordicBaltic.Tech.

Startups want to engage with the public sector

With global attention focused on the intersection between public health, government policy, community action and technology, many startups have become aware of GovTech as a sector filled with opportunities. Indeed, 53% of startups that responded to our call for engagement said they would like to increase their level of engagement with public officials, and startups who currently work with Government said they would like to do so more.

Estonia, Denmark & Finland lead the way

At NordicBaltic.tech, we have identified 95 initiatives across the Noridc-Baltic region that directly respond to, and attempt to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Estonia, Denmark and Finland have launched the greatest number of initiatives, which range from resource banks, webinars, and digital communities to hackathons and special funding opportunities. Explore and browse the initiative database on NordicBaltic.Tech.

Strong support for businesses during the crisis

The majority of initiatives in the Nordic-Baltic region are geared towards supporting businesses, especially startups. These initiatives are divided into two categories: governmental support for small businesses and initiatives by the startup community to help and support each other. 

The high number of business support initiatives is indicative of the value governments place on innovative startups, and the resilient and proactive attitude of the startup community.  

Public officials want to work with startups

The initiatives with the greatest impact, such as the many iterations of Hack The Crisis, were a collaborative effort from the startup community and government agencies. As a result, public officials across the whole Nordic-Baltic region are becoming more aware of the impact technology startups can have on the delivery of public services and are seeking greater engagement with the startup ecosystem. 47% of officials that responded to our call for engagement said that they are looking to connect and work with startups, and just under 30% said they want to tap into innovation networks. The public officials who responded represent a wide range of government bodies, from national departments for infrastructure, trade, health, and regional development, to municipal and local authorities. The insights from our databases indicate that the future looks bright for the GovTech sector. As a result of the challenges posed by Covid-19, governments are starting to take a keen interest in the potential for GovTech and actively seeking to work with innovators and entrepreneurs. Conversely, entrepreneurs and innovators have become acutely aware of the benefits they can offer to the wider public sector, citizens and society.