Lithuania’s Startup Ecosystem Leaders: We Have to Join Our Forces to Improve Conditions for Startups in Lithuania

To attract more successful startups, Lithuania has to attract specialists from abroad and strengthen its initiatives among different institutions. The Lithuanian startup ecosystem has many opportunities that are not always taken – an integrated strategy for the startup ecosystem is needed. Often startup support programs for Lithuania reach only bigger cities, but it is crucial to use the features of every region in the country. These thoughts were shared among experts during the event organized by CIVITTA and Kaunas IN, discussing how to improve conditions for startups in Lithuania.

Main goal: to ensure the continuity of policies

The vice minister of Economy and Innovation Jekaterina Rojaka said the main attention will be given to improve the startup ecosystem and integration of regions in Lithuania.

“We are trying to create a strategy until 2050 – we want it to be as less fragmented as possible and to include all innovative companies, especially startups. A new strategy period begins in 2021 and with it we will try to enforce the growth and funding for startup ecosystem not only in Vilnius but also in the rest of Lithuania. A big portion of the funding will be dedicated to the creation of smart regions. Startups can surely expect the continuity of improving conditions for their businesses,” – said vice minister of Economy and Innovation J. Rojaka.

Kaunas is feeling the growth

For three months Kaunas hosted a startup pre-acceleration programme called “Kaunas Startups”: selected startups participated in lectures on business developing, received professional help and advice from mentors from all over the world, developed their products and presented them to the investors. The programme exceeded all the expectations – the public lectures attracted almost 2000 visitors, a great number of well-known companies and a total of 14 new business prepared their products to be launched to the market. The programme was a great success and attracted a lot of attention from Kaunas city community. Therefore, the organizers initiated a meeting in Kaunas, inviting the organizations who work with startups to discuss, how the good practices of Kaunas could be implemented elsewhere in Lithuania.

“The programme proved that a significant growth for the city can be created in just a few months. The biggest value of the programme is the knowledge and network that we have introduced to the startups. They are starting to understand the ecosystem and are able to foresee better the potential risks and opportunities,” said the meeting initiator Danielius Stasiulis, partner of CIVITTA. “We wanted to gather the most important organisations in Lithuania that work with startups and encourage them to initiate similar initiatives throughout Lithuania, to synchronise their activities, to analyse other programs so that all of the initiatives could bring a bigger value. Only with close cooperating among institutions, we will understand the true value of the startup ecosystem and will find ways to successfully integrate initiatives.”

“We're glad Kaunas city community was involved in Kaunas Startups programme. Next step is to discuss how to integrate programme’s good examples into the infrastructure of Lithuania and how to improve the situation for startups,” said Tadas Stankevičius, head of Kaunas IN.

Simas Simanauskas, director of Klaipėda ID assured that Kaunas Startups programme inspired them to look for a similar solution for Klaipėda city as well. It is very likely that a similar startup acceleration programme could launch already this year. The guests of the event unanimously agreed that one of the main sectors where Klaipėda could concentrate and have the advantage in the region is MarineTech.

The lack of talents

All business representatives who participated in the discussion agreed that the biggest challenge at the moment is to find and attract experts who could establish or help to develop startups. CEO of SearchNode Antanas Bakšys noticed that a lot of professionals live abroad. “We have to show initiative to bring back the emigrants, to tell them that we need them, to inform them about what is happening in Lithuania‘s startup ecosystem. These people could be the solution to ensure a quick result in startup ecosystem growth.“

Jonė Vaitulevičiūtė, partner of venture capital fund Startup Wise Guys agreed with the idea: “There are not enough startups in Lithuania – we started establishing venture capital funds but they have to intensively look where to invest. We are travelling abroad, visiting Lithuanian diaspora, looking for contacts and trying to attract people to return to Lithuania.“

Institutions will unite forces

„This experience sharing gave us great value and helped to understand what solutions are working and where we should pay the most attention. We will certainly meet again this kind of gatherings so we could agree on specific measures that we work on to implement the initiatives discussed." said D. Stasiulis.

The discussion was organized by CIVITTA together with startup support organisation Startup Division and Kaunas IN. The meeting also welcomed the vice minister of Economy and Innovation Jekaterina Rojaka, head of Kaunas IN Tadas Stankevičius, head of Startup Lithuania”Roberta Rudokienė, MITA project manager Vaiva Amulė, director of Klaipėda ID Simas Simanauskas, head of business development at NFQ Tadas Četkauskas, CEO of SearchNode Antanas Bakšys, CTO of DevBridge Rimantas Benetis, partner of venture capital fund Startup Wise Guys Jonė Vaitulevičiūtė, Invest Lithuania, KTU Startup Space, Lithuanian Business Angels, Bank of Lithuania, Lithuanian Innovation Centre, CIVITTA, Startup Division representatives and others.

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