Belarusian startups raised a quarter of a billion USD over the last five years

The "Tech in the New East: Belarus" report, prepared by Bulba Ventures, CIVITTA, and Emerge, is declaring the positive development dynamics of the Belarusian startup ecosystem. The report systematizes and uncovers various aspects of Belarusian tech and startup ecosystems.

Globally known for such companies as EPAM, Wargaming, Flo, and also its favourable legal environment for tech companies, Belarus is becoming a dynamic and growing ecosystem in the region.

Report authors researched the development of the ecosystem both on individual indicators and within a specially developed index. The index helps to reveal the strengths of the local ecosystem for tech entrepreneurs and draws attention to areas for growth and improvement. Index components include such factors as the availability of capital, talent pool, quality of supporting infrastructure and professional communities, and also the level of entrepreneurial culture. This approach helps to better understand the development of the tech and startup economy in Belarus, and also compare its dynamics with neighbouring countries.  

In 2018, the overall volume of venture investments reached its historic maximum: $93 mln for 28 deals. To compare, in 2013, Belarusian startups raised only $7 mln. The most active growth is seen in such verticals as SaaS, MedTech, AI & ML, with a record of $77 mln in 2018. The number of startups has also significantly increased over this time: 178 startups are currently active, 97% of which are based in Minsk.

There are 8 local accelerators operating in Belarus to support early-stage companies and provide access to expert opinion and assistance. One of the most significant events for the Belarusian startup-community was the launch of the business angels network, AngelsBand. Its main goal is to connect investors with promising startups and increase awareness about angel investing among local entrepreneurs.  

One of the reasons for such growth is a favourable legal environment. Report authors indicate it is one of the most favourable in the Eastern European region. This was facilitated by Presidential Decree №8 "On the Development of the Digital Economy." Tax benefits, a visa-free regime, the legalization of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, and the application of English law practices make it a favourable legal environment to launch startups. 

If to compare the Belarusian startup ecosystem to other Eastern European countries, the report emphasizes a number of key indicators. Investment activity in Belarus grew up by 92% over the last five years, the highest growth shown in the region. Another indicator is the number of significant exits local startups have made (MSQRD acquired by Facebook, AIMATTER - by Google). This, according to local experts, has inspired new generations of entrepreneurs to launch startup ventures.

Tech in the New East: Belarus gives insights into:

  • the current position of Belarus in the regional startup ecosystem;

  • key growth drivers and areas for improvement;

  • data on startup investment activity.

The report was initially presented at the EMERGE conference in June 2019. Now, its authors are publishing a more detailed version of it. You can read the full version here.

Bulba Ventures is an investment company backing early-stage ML startups. Founded in 2018 by Yury Melnichek and Andrei Avsievich. Bulba Ventures is also the organizer of a conference about machine learning, augmented reality and computer vision technologies called bulbacon. The conference brings together engineers, investors, and entrepreneurs. Bulba Ventures’ portfolio includes WANNABY, OneSoil, RocketBody, VOIR, Gero, Zenia, and VOCHI. 

EMERGE is a global tech product conference, where entrepreneurs, tech talent, investors, and scientists get together to create the future we want to live in. It's a 360° cross-industry approach to product development, scaling, and growth. Held in up-and-coming innovation hubs, we spotlight the tech underdogs.