Innovation Brings Great Opportunities to the Belarusian Economy

Innovation in Belarus
Fact box

21% of Belarusian manufacturing firms were involved in some sort of innovation activity in 2015

60% of the innovative output from manufacturing firms is currently being exported

Technology-based services account for 28.5% of the exported services in Belarus

30% of the gross fixed capital formation in the country is earmarked for the modernisation of production facilities

Belarus has more than 450 R&D organisations, employing more than 27,000 researchers

There are 54 universities where 363 thousand students were enrolled in 2015

28% of the population, in the age group from 30 to 34 years old, has a university degree

Source: Science and Innovation in Belarus, 2015; National Statistical Committee of Belarus

Rumen Dobrinsky

About Rumen Dobrinsky

Rumen Dobrinsky is Senior Research Associate at the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW) and country expert for Bulgaria and Belarus. His main research areas include processes of transformation, growth and convergence and European integration. He was Head of Economic Cooperation and Integration Division, UN Economic Commission for Europe and President of the Centre for Economic and Strategic Research and has provided advisory services for the EC, OECD. He holds a PhD in economics from IMA, Sofia.

The Belarusian economy has still to be discovered by many potential investors, but it is worth the effort. For one reason or another, the prevailing public perception, in the West, is somewhat prejudiced towards what is happening in Belarus. However, those business people and investors, who are ready to overcome prejudices and an unjustified bad image, may be truly rewarded for their efforts.

Thanks to its prudent policy of gradual transition, Belarus is one of the few post-communist countries that have managed to preserve the more valuable remnants of the human and physical capital that they have inherited from the past. It is still one of the most industrialised economies in the region just as was in Soviet times; however Belarus also has made some noteworthy achievements in innovative segments of its economy. Most importantly, you will find both innovative firms with their roots in the past and new technology firms born out of the innovative drive of talented young entrepreneurs.

The IT sector is a case in point. It draws on the historic tradition from the times when Belarus was among the birthplaces of the Soviet computer industry. In the last couple of decades, the IT sector has shown remarkable growth, and this well beyond the country’s frontiers. Within the IT sector, Belarus’s High Technologies Park (BHTP) is an establishment that epitomises the country’s achievements and success in this area.

BHTP is a remarkable example of a well-designed and skilfully implemented policy intervention. It was established in 2005, by a presidential decree, with the aim of boosting the competitive power of Belarusian (and Belarus-based) IT businesses and of supporting the expansion of IT exports.

The Park enjoys a special preferential tax regime that is offered to its residents and a range of additional privileges and benefits which make it a very attractive location for setting up an IT business, both for local and foreign firms. Importantly, the framework conditions that the government offers to BHTP have not changed at all, during its more than 10 years of existence, which serves as a guarantee for a predictable future for its residents.

Once you enter the Park’s premises, you will notice, immediately, that you are in a place where people mean business, they know what they want and they know how to achieve it. BHTP’s appealing facilities are comparable to any that you would see in the most advanced technology parks in the world.

Not surprisingly, the Park has been a great success. In its ten years of existence it has grown from virtually no residents to 152 in 2016 (both Belarusian and foreign companies), to $800 million in sales in 2015 (of which $700 million was exports) and with more than 24 thousand employees in the resident companies. Among BHTP’s best known success stories are Viber (which started as a company there) and EPAM (also partially created in the Park). There is also a range of high growth companies currently residing in the Park who may be the champions of the future.

The success of this venture has encouraged the government to try to replicate its success in other innovative sectors as well. At present, two other technology parks are being established which are to follow a similar operational model. The Great Stone Industrial Park is a joint venture with China, which will be offering land plots and the infrastructure to establish high-tech manufacturing businesses with a preferential tax regime, as well as a range of other business privileges.

BelBioGrad is the latest national project to establish a Techno-park for innovative businesses in pharmaceuticals and nano- and bio-technology, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences which draws on its human capital. While BelBioGrad is still in a conceptual phase, the idea is to follow the model of BHTP as closely as possible.

Of course, the innovative segment is not representative of the whole of the Belarusian economy, which is generally very heterogeneous and has segments that are far from the technological frontiers. It is more the case that the technology parks, described above, are like enclaves, in that they benefit from special privileges that are not offered to all businesses.

Drawing from the remarkable success of BTHP, the Belarusian government could give a great boost to the economy as a whole if it were to extend similar benefits and privileges to all sectors and businesses. However, in the meantime, forward-looking innovative businesses and investors from abroad may find great opportunities in the high-tech enclaves of the Belarusian economy.


The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.


The essence of the Customs Union is protectionism

Encouraging SME’s Development Will Help Build Belarusian Economy

Belarus-Turkey Investment Forum to increase investment and trade between the two countries

Join our networking seminar in London on November 30

Belarus Is Where the New Silk Road Heads For Europe

Breaking trade barriers with CIS has never been easier

Belarus’s Election Tests the EU’s Global Strategy

The Belarusian Financial Sector: An Industry in the Process of Restructuring

Invest in Belarus: looking beyond politics to the future

Emerging Europe and the EBRD host the Outlook on Belarus conference in London

Belarus: Navigating the geopolitical storm

Belarus is Bringing Opportunities for European Companies

Great Stone

Outsourcing in Germany: Stop Talking at and Start Talking to

Cautious Upturn in Emerging Europe Haunted by the Spectre of Uncertainty

Donald Trump

New investors interested in Belarus’ Great Stone Industrial Park

Winds of Change for Belarus’ Reinsurance Industry?

HTP: Belarus’ Engineers Are Leading a Cool Revolution

Belarus Is Making the First Steps onto the International Finance Floor

Belarus and the EBRD:
Working to Expand the Country’s Strengths and Success

Brexit Makes Waves Across the European Union and Beyond

Veni, Vidi, Vici, Or My Personal Experience of Doing Business in Belarus

Belarus 2020: Turning the Vicious Circle Into an Upward Spiral

Belarus Has Set an Example for Others to Follow

‘No’ To a Monetary Union With Russia

High-Tech Park in Minsk is growing rapidly

Business Opportunities in Belarus Encourage Outside Interest

Central And Eastern Europe At the World Property Market

“e-Belarus”: Embracing the Internet and its Possibilities

OECD: Belarus Has to Find Its Own Belarusian Model to Emerge

The EU Is Encouraging Belarus to Join the World Trade Organisation

Belarusian Economy on a Diet to Change its Financial Outlook

The Proof of a Country’s Readiness to Attract Foreign Investors Lies in the Development of the Insurance Market

Germany Is Not Letting Belarus’ Small Downturns Put it off Looking for Investment Opportunities

PandaDoc — Rolling Sales Procedures Together So Everyone Succeeds

The Great Stone Industrial Park — Making Doing Business Easy in Minsk

Belarus: The Importance Of Diversification

FocusEconomics: Belarusian Economy to Grow in Q4 2016 and Onwards

Germany and Belarus: Thinking Globally Acting Locally

Belarus Is One of the Top Outsourcing Destinations of 2016

Italy and Belarus: A Relationship Based on Complementarities and History

Belarus: MOST Builds a Bridge to the Future

Belarus Has To Make an Extra Effort To Change Investors’ Perceptions

Belarus: On the Way to a Market Economy?

Why Is Belarus Tech Booming?

Falling Student Numbers and Declining R&D Result From Lack of Funds

UK Shores: the New Frontier, a View on a Series of Fortunate Events

Emerging Europe Live: Life in Belarus As Seen by Foreigners

Belarusian Tech Companies Lead a Global Technological Advance in Outsourcing and Product Development

The Belarusian Banking Sector Moving Towards Modernisation Despite Some Challenges

Will the New Five-day Visa-free Regime Encourage More Visitors to Belarus?

Not All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Brexit Is a Great Opportunity to Attract Foreign Investors to Belarus

Will European Business and Institutions Bolster the New Trends That Have Appeared in Belarus?

Foreign Investors: Belarus Offers Opportunities But Further Improvements Are Needed

EBRD Emerging Europe Outlook on Belarus 2016

One Belt One Road: a Big Task for Europe

World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2016 Resume For Emerging Europe

Belarus US Business Relations Thrive as Conditions Improve

The Eurasian Economic Union Fails to Bring Belarus Closer to Big Brother

The EU’s Benign Neglect Of Eastern Europe

The UK and Belarus: A Partnership to Introduce the Real Belarus to Europe

From Denmark to Belarus — A Personal Experience of Business

The Next Four Months Crucial For the Belarus-EU Relations

Are Labour Shortages Driving Economic Growth?

The Belarusian real estate market is on the up

Lukashenka seeks to avoid commitment to Russia’s geostrategic goals

The Shopping Experience Is Set To Go Global in Belarus from 2017 Onwards

Belarus Is Ready to Begin With Venture Capital Investments

Belarus: Changing Old Ideas And Mixing With the New in Belarus’ Export Market

The Belarusian Economy: The Challenges of Stalled Reforms

Foreigners choose Minsk and Gomel as Belarus’ most attractive FDI destinations

Belarus is the most creative EEU country

The Deep Roots of Currency Crises in the Former Soviet Union

Young Well-Paid IT Specialists Are Making Belarus Known Internationally

Belarus and Singapore Share the Same Factors for Economic Success

The Reality Is More Interesting Than the Misconceptions

Smart, reliable and promising

Belarusian Economic Recovery May Downgrade Intended Reforms for Competitiveness

Emerging Europe Live: CEE — The Outsourcing Destination

Long-time Neighbours Need to Share Awareness, Plus Trade & Investment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *