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