I am thrilled to share the enriching experiences from my Global Digital Governance Fellowship at Stanford University, where I immersed myself in the vibrant academic and technological landscape from September 8 to December 9, 2023. The primary focus of the fellowship was to comprehensively map the digital government research and innovation terrain within Stanford and the dynamic Silicon Valley. This immersive endeavour aimed at knowledge-sharing, self-education, and understanding the intricate dynamics of the research field and the broader ecosystem of the Bay area.

I had a great opportunity to take part in the Cybersecurity Awareness Day event at San Jose City Hall in October, exploring the city’s AI strategy and fostering ongoing collaboration on AI for public services. Engaging discussions with key figures opened doors for productive follow-up meetings.

Additionally, alongside my esteemed colleague Ralf-Martin Soe, we conducted the Agile Local Governments Miniseries, a two-part seminar series on collaboration strategies for local governments. Follow-up meetings with participants, mainly from industry and local governments, emphasized practical applications.

A particularly inspiring moment was the book debate with Jennifer Pahlka about her book “(Re)coding America: Why Governments Fail in the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better.” During this debate, we explored challenges in government digitization in both the US and Estonia and discussed potential solutions to tackle these problems.

We also initiated a discussion with the Oregon Government facilitated by the Estonian Consulate in San Francisco through Consul General Maria Belovas and with the Oregon Legislature. In these discussions, I shared Estonia’s experiences with paperless management, interoperability, and data harmonization.

Regular attendance at various events and seminars on campus, particularly Thursday seminars aligned with my field, provided a platform for continuous learning and knowledge enrichment. Engaging with numerous Stanford scholars fostered insightful discussions, expanding academic perspectives, and creating valuable connections.

Last but not least, my co-fellow Ralf-Martin’s experience and mine in Stanford were encapsulated in the paper published in Centrum Balticum in December 2023 (page 48). In this paper, we compared research and innovation approaches in Silicon Valley versus Europe.

To make all these activities work, my special thanks go to Liisi Esse for her unwavering support and help during my fellowship, and to Andy Grotto for his warm welcome and hospitality. Undoubtedly, I gained new knowledge and expertise from this fellowship to contribute to Estonia’s digital innovation landscape.