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Asia Update Conference
Date & time TBC

Asia Update 2021 is cancelled 

Asia Update is an international conference series organised by Enterprise Estonia in cooperation with Tartu University, Tallinn University, TalTech and  relevant ministries and enterprises. The conference was launched in 2019 and takes place biennially.

Asia Update brings together local, regional and international experts, business people and decision-makers who engage with Asia to share ideas and build networks for future growth and development. The conference focuses on discussing both the challenges and opportunities in today’s society caused by the conflicts between different stakeholders, environmental and societal problems, challenges between countries, differences in perceptions between Asia and the West, and the shifting of the world order.

Time: TBC
Venue: TBC

Co-organisers of “Asia Update”

Supporters and sponsors of “Asia Update 2021”



Day 1


Registration and welcome coffee


Opening words by the conference moderator


Opening words by the President of Estonia or the Prime Minister of Estonia


Opening words by a high level minister from Asia


Keynote speech: “Building bridges over troubled water”
The situation in international politics is getting more and more challenging. We are facing political turbulence, but also mutual challenges regarding the environment and society. How to navigate in these complex situations as a government or as an international company? When we are facing bigger challenges such as climate change, can we beat the clock through cooperation?


Keynote speech: “AI as the new “nuclear” weapon – international competition or global collaboration”
The development of AI has found its top place on the agenda of many countries – including Estonia! However, will it be a power struggle between the “big two”, i.e. China and the US, or is there any chance for smaller players such as international startups and smaller countries like Estonia to diversify the landscape and contribute to the global future in this field? And how should this future look like?


Coffee break


Keynote speech by a high-level state representative from Japan


Panel discussion: “Building sustainable and smart cities – is Asia leading the race?”
Quality of life is one of the top issue cities are dealing with – whether it is provided through a safer and more sustainable living environment, better organization of daily life or recreational and cultural opportunities. Smart City concept aims to contribute to all of these aspects by using data to develop services, communication between counterparts and making usage of resources as efficient as possible. Are the Asian countries getting ahead of Europe in these developments? What are the lessons learned and best practices to be shared?


Short break


Networking dinner


Night owl session: “Big Data – a threat to privacy or a tool for the future?”
Data is the new gold and therefore, the discussions over how to use it have become more heated. We are entering the big data era and are always looking for solutions that make our everyday lives and interactions/transactions between people, companies, and government(s) more digital, automated and data-driven. The big data era also comes with complications and arises the question of privacy. While China’s social credit system has stirred up emotions globally and caused questions over how governments should handle people’s data, other scandals have emerged in the West, where multinational companies such as Facebook have been caught up in scandals related to similar issues. What should be the universal values to take into account for developing new solutions and what are we willing to give up in exchange for better governmental, corporate and peer-to-peer services?

Day 2


Opening words by the Minister of Education Mailis Reps


Rectors’ panel: “Designing successful knowledge-based societies: lessons learned from Japan, Singapore and others”
It has been universally acknowledged that the success of a country, societal and economic, comes from smart planning, acquisition of talent as well as know-how from its community. Currently there are over 20 Asian universities in top 100 universities in the world, and the number is growing fast. With Asia becoming stronger on the world stage in both education and innovation, it’s wise to see what can we learn from them. How to endorse knowledge in a way that it serves the society? What role has the educational system in that and what else is needed?




The two keynote speeches below are parallel and take place in different rooms.

Keynote speech: “The disruption of retail: e-commerce extending across the borders”

Keynote speech: “Asia leading the way in combating social issues through innovation”


The two panel discussions below are parallel and take place in different rooms.

Panel discussion: “The evolving landscape of cross-border e-commerce – what to gain from it?”
E-commerce is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries today. It is a vital proponent of the online world. Hence, many entrepreneurs are invested in this particular dimension where the possibilities are endless. With the technological advancements, the upcoming years will experience changing e-commerce landscape more than ever. Players need to agree and adjust to the common rules of the game, however will the goals be the same for all? While discussing the quickly evolving nature of e-commerce, the panel also provides some guidelines for companies involved in the sector.

Panel discussion “Social issues – creating sustainability through innovation”
European as well as some Asian countries are facing inevitable developments such as aging societies or rapid environmental changes. What might be the solutions to these issues – is it technology or perhaps turning back to our roots? What can we learn from Asian countries and what can we offer them in return to create sustainability through innovation?


Conference lunch


The two keynote speeches below are parallel and take place in different rooms.

Keynote speech: “Asia in the midst of conflicts – how does it impact EU’s foreign policy”

Keynote speech: “Expanding to Asia – managing the risks and fulfilling the potential”


The two panel discussions below are parallel and take place in different rooms.

Panel discussion: “Small states in the turbulence of big states”
In the context of global market competition, fight for economic growth and new opportunities, the question arises: do smaller countries even have a chance to independently define their foreign policy? How could they successfully survive the political turbulence of leading states?

Panel discussion: “Scale fast or fail fast – can your business afford not going to Asia?”
Due to its large markets and capital readily available for consumption and investment, Asia increasingly gains attraction among European companies as well as startups. Is it nowadays even reasonable not to consider Asian markets when aiming to grow the business? More importantly, how to actually succeed in Asia and avoid the potential failures. This panel focuses on discussing some of the failures and successes of foreign companies entering Asian markets.




Keynote speech: Spotting the next big things that define the modern power struggle” 

More and more we hear the claim that the competition between countries as well as corporations is defining the New World Order and that there is a “war” going on. While the political turbulence is intensifying, we are also facing mutual challenges related to the environment and society and have entered a new era filled with environmental issues and concerns over technology. What exactly are the next big things that will define the modern power struggle? Will we see Asia continuing it’s miraculous rise or will the miracle come to an end? Can the political differences between the East and the West


Closing panel discussion: The race is on – where should it take us?
In times of fast change and competitive spirits, it is easy to overlook the aspects that define the future well-being of our societies and to ignore the need for international cooperation. We face many common challenges with Asia such as an aging population, limited resources (both material as well as human talent) and have together entered a climate crisis.. So, how could we cooperate with Asia to race to the top together instead of getting caught in the race to the bottom? How to turn common challenges with Asia into new opportunities, e.g. demographic change into a push for new solutions, garbage problem into a chance to provide new kinds of resources, climate challenge into motivation for better use of energy, etc.?


Closing words by the conference moderator


Networking event


Kersti Kaljulaid_!
Kersti Kaljulaid

President of the Republic of Estonia

Yoko Ishikura

Hitotsubashi University, World Economic Forum
Professor Emeritus, Independent Consultant

sean wang
Sean Wang

NetEase Kaola (China)
Vice President

royston (1)
Royston Braganza

Grameen Capital India

Pulkit Jaiswal

Stealth Mode Venture (SwarmX, Garuda Robotics)

Mr Ranade (1) (002)
Jayadeva Ranade

Centre for China Analysis and Strategy
President (Former additional secretary, Government of India)

Taavi Rõivas

Estonian Parliament
Prime Minister of Estonia (2014-2016)

Colum Rice

PwC New-Zealand

Brian Whitmore
Brian Whitmore

Center for European Policy Analysis
Senior Fellow, Director of Russia Program

Mittu Chandilya

CS Group (Former Air Asia, Adani Logistics)

Carl-Johan Westring

EF Education First

Richard Dunham_1
Richard Dunham

Tsinghua University
Co-director, Global Business Journalism Program

Sonny Aswani

Tolaram Group

Bernard Piette

Logistics in Wallonia
General Manager

Lars Freden

Former Swedish Ambassador to China and Mongolia

Neelakshi Premawardhena

University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Professor of Modern Languages

Viljar Lubi

Ministry of Economic Affairs (Estonia)
Vice-Minister/Deputy Secretary General

Jürgen Steiger_1
Jürgen Steiger

Senior Advisor

SMahendran_Pic new
S Mahendran

CIO Academy Asia

Zhang Xiaotian

Shanghai University
Deputy Vice President

Ivana Karásková

Association for International Affairs
Research fellow

Felim Meade

Emerald Green Consulting

Joseph Lau1
Joseph Lau

Various organisations in Singapore
Training consultant

Allan Martinson


Cao Yin

Digital Renaissance Foundation
Founding Partner

Xenia Joost

Fashion designer

Marko Mihkelson

Estonian Parliament
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Jens Põld1
Jens Põld

WorkVenture Technologies


Kentaro Morita
Kentaro Morita

Former Economic Attache of the Japanese Embassy in Estonia

Ott Jalakas


Takehito Nagumo
Takehiko Nagumo

Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co. Ltd.
Managing Executive Officer

Johannes Thimm

German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)
Senior fellow

Ott Vatter

Managing Director

Raul Allikivi

Planetway Corporation
Member of the Board, Chief Relations Officer (CRO)

Jimmy Adams

Moot China
Partner/ Creative consultant

Ansi Arumeel


Rafael Jimenez

China Expert

Tobias Johannes Koch

 e-Estonia Briefing Centre
Business Engagement Manager

Priit Martinson

PwC Eesti
Government Technology
Digital Transformation Leader

Liisi Karindi

Honorary Consul of Mongolia in Estonia
China Expert

Anita Smirnova

Actress, model

Rauno Sainio


Urmas Hõbepappel

Researcher, teacher, and entrepreneur

Varun sharma
Varun Sharma


Former Head of Partnerships at E-Residency

Margo_Loor_SpeakSmart (2)_block
Margo Loor



Please be advised: speakers, panels and agendas may be subject to change.

Additional Information

Asia Update is a high profile conference that brings together politicians and decision-makers, experts, entrepreneurs, and academics and encourages discussions on Asia. The conference is mostly invitation-only, but 100 seats are available to the first interested stakeholders.

If you are interested in sponsoring the event, joining the conference as a journalist or as a visitor, please contact conference organizers at [email protected].

If you have already received an invitation and given your RSVP to the invitation, we suggest you to also look into our recommendations for accommodation in Tallinn. More information will be following soon.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the conference organizers via email [email protected].


Conference venue:


For further information, please contact [email protected]