Over the past 10 years, a new field has emerged in public policy around smarter ways for governments to enable the founders of new firms to start and scale more quickly in pursuit of economic stability and job creation. As more entrepreneurial societies have taken root, disruptive technologies have been unleashed on traditional industries bringing new, unfamiliar regulatory challenges to governments.

The co-hosts and partners of the Startup Nations Summit in Tallinn believe that hands-on policy design and experimentation knowledge exchange at SNS should lead to actual implementation. The Startup Nations Summit 2017 will therefore feature a Policy Hack for selected participants to design, test and develop a policy solution to help new and young firms. Seasoned, expert policymaker peers will join startup entrepreneurs to guide the process and provide feedback.



The SNS Policy Hack is not a typical hacking event limited to a few hours on-site. Participants in the SNS Policy Hack will benefit from a 12-month process carefully developed by a core team of leaders and organizations for peer testing ideas before taking the policy solutions back to home to implement them. The journey for participants will include:

Pre-SNS (July - November 2017): getting ready to make the most of the hack at the Summit.

  • Access to an exclusive online discussion platform throghout the year. Expect answers from renowned experts within GEN, the Estonian government, the European Commission, as well as from SNS partners and sponsors.
  • Pre-SNS Tallinn preparatory webinars and/or regional workshops.

At SNS (November 20-22, 2017): Once in Tallinn, validate your idea with delegations of policy shapers from more than 60 countries.

  • Participation in the full 3-day SNS programme, where Policy Hack participants will have the opportunity to mingle with SNS delegates, as sounding board exercise for their policy ideas.
  • Participation the 5-hour policy hack exercise in Tallinn on Wednesday November 22, 2017, which will feature:
    • Team support: Active participation from complementary policy hack team members - carefully selected peer delegates and policy stakeholders, including startups, investors and researchers on your topic.
    • A competitive atmosphere: Three policy hack teams will be selected to pitch their policy solution to full SNS audience, based on the criteria of a) most potential impact on rates of scale-ups; and b) most innovative solutions. However, those outside the top 3 will still be encouraged to pursue the implementation of the policy solution if the test at the hack was a success.
  • Access to the European Commission's SME Assembly immediately following SNS (November 23-24, 2017). The SME Assembly provides an additional relaxed atmosphere with networking opportunities with high-level peer policy shapers and startup entrepreneurs interested in informing policy.

Post-SNS (December 2017 - May 2018): After receiving help with testing and validation, it is time to implement the policy solution.

  • Assistance with early implementation: those selected at the SNS Policy Hack as the top 3 will continue to receive assistance from MEAC in communicating progress and connecting to mentors, for 6 months following SNS, for the purposes of implementation feedback.
  • Reporting implementation results: Those who tested their policy idea at SNS are expected to continue to work on monitoring it and report results and share the experience with peers at a future GEN or European Commission events within 6-9 months from the Summit. 



GEN and its Startup Nations policy network is able to bring communities together to test programs and policies that build healthier ecosystems for entrepreneurs in 174 countries. Estonia is a global front-runner in adopting digital technologies in the public sector, generating a constant flow of insights and ideas for the rest of the world to explore. Beyond technology itself, Dell has designed and executed policy hacks around the world. The European Commission has put the adoption of regulatory sandboxes high on its agenda. And last but not least, Startup Estonia and EIT Digital bring the all-important link to dozens of new entrepreneurs to keep everyone honest and anchor our research and assumptions with real experience from our ecosystems.



The following are ideal candidates for the SNS Policy Hack: 

  • Public sector leaders focused on helping new and young businesses in their country who are looking to implement an innovative policy tool (such as a change in regulation or a specific program), but would like to put their policy idea to the test in front of peers and entrepreneurs prior to implementing it.
  • Government officials who need to unleash a wave of innovation in a specific industry or policy domain – preferably but not exclusively in financial technologies, data policies and/or smart cities – and have some ideas about how to do it, but need to build momentum or wish to test the idea prior to implementation at home.
  • Leaders of cities, regions, or countries that are interested in creating a "regulatory sandbox". The European Commission's model for a regulatory sandbox is a platform for dialogue between the regulator and an innovator that tests innovative ideas using digital technologies prior to implementation or usage. In other words, it is a means for de-risking both for the regulator and the innovator.  

In sum, the SNS Policy Hack is intended to help those who are ready to move from a relatively well-defined policy idea to an early implementation or tested policy stage.

If you are interested in participating in the SNS Policy Hack, you may apply by clicking here or on the RSVP button at the top of this page.  

If you are not currently in a position to move forward with a specific policy proposal, but perhaps you have recently implemented a policy change, you may also apply to become one of peer members in policy hack teams and help those who are just undergoing change. You can use the SNS Policy Hack as an appetizer for upcoming policy changes without going through a policy change yourself!



The Startup Nations Summit and SNS Policy Hack are made possible thanks to the support of the following organizations: