Es­to­nia of­fer­ing Brits con­tin­ued ac­cess to EU fund­ing via e-res­i­dency

The Baltic Times - - BALTIC NEWS - BNS/TBT Staff

Es­to­nia is out to lure Uk-based aca­demics and en­trepreneurs into be­com­ing e-res­i­dents with the hope of con­tin­ued ac­cess to EU fund­ing and mar­kets af­ter Brexit, the Fi­nan­cial Times has re­ported.

“We have heard from aca­demics in the UK who are con­cerned by the po­ten­tial im­pact of Brexit, but see eres­i­dency as a so­lu­tion,” said Kas­par Kor­jus, head of the e-res­i­dency pro­gram. “A ‘vir­tual in­sti­tute’ reg­is­tered in Es­to­nia through e-res­i­dency would en­able them to con­tinue work­ing in the UK but also pre­serve their pres­ence within the EU’S aca­demic en­vi­ron­ment . . . as well as ap­ply for EU fund­ing,” he added.

UK fintech com­pa­nies could be par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in find­ing out what else e-res­i­dency might of­fer them, Kor­jus said.

The Fi­nan­cial Times said that the UK re­ceives a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of Euro­pean re­search fund­ing, but fears are grow­ing that re­searchers in other coun­tries could turn their backs on col­lab­o­rat­ing with Bri­tish-based aca­demics now that the process of Brexit has be­gun.

James Oates, head of the Bri­tish-es­to­nian Cham­ber of Com­merce, said Brexit could give e-res­i­dency the boost that the pro­gram was look­ing for. The prospect of be­ing shut out of EU in­sti­tu­tions had “put the fear of God into (UK) busi­ness and aca­demics,” he said.

Es­to­nia has a con­sid­er­able pres­ence in the grow­ing fintech in­dus­try through star­tups such as Trans­fer­wise and Monese, which were both founded by Es­to­ni­ans, but are head­quar­tered in Lon­don. Kor­jus said UK busi­nesses and en­trepreneurs would “need some en­tity in the EU” af­ter Brexit to com­ply with EU reg­u­la­tions.

Oates, who is also head of Cicero Capital, an in­vest­ment com­pany fo­cused on cen­tral and eastern Europe, said trig­ger­ing of Ar­ti­cle 50 last month had sparked an­other bout of in­ter­est.

“Peo­ple are ask­ing us: can e-res­i­dence do ev­ery­thing it says on the tin? We don’t know yet -- but for 100 Eu­ros you can test it out.”

Ac­cord­ing to the ar­ti­cle, Es­to­nia has had a surge of in­ter­est from the UK since the Brexit vote last year, with about 1,000 UK cit­i­zens al­ready ap­ply­ing for e-res­i­dency. That is dou­ble the pace of ap­pli­ca­tions be­fore the ref­er­en­dum, with a flurry of in­ter­est im­me­di­ately af­ter the vote on June 23.

How­ever, Kor­jus stressed that Es­to­nia was not look­ing to poach peo­ple from the UK, as Euro­pean cities such as Paris and Frank­furt have been, be­cause aca­demics and busi­ness­peo­ple would not have to re­lo­cate. “We see this sit­u­a­tion can have ad­van­tages for both Es­to­nia and the UK,” he said.

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