Why Is Belarus Tech Booming?

emerging europe belarus outlook ebrd

Read the Outlook on Belarus special report

Belarusian IT Industry
Fact box

There are about 40,000 professionals involved in the tech industry in Belarus

The first companies were registered as the residents of the Belarus’s Hi-Tech Park (HTP) ten years ago. The list includes 159 titles today.

The annual volume of export of HTP’s residents has increased 33.6 times from $21 million in 2006 to over $705 million in 2015.

91.5% of the software produced by HTP’s residents account for exports. 46.7% account for the European countries, 40.2% – for the USA and Canada, 10.7% – for Russia and CIS countries.

IT as a share of national export in Belarus in 2015: 2,7%.

Five HTP’s residents made it to the 2016 Global Outsourcing 100 List.

EPAM Systems, largest Minsk-founded software engineering services’ company, employs 7,000 staff in Belarus

900 million people in 160 countries use mobile applications created in Belarus

Source: Belarus’s Hi-Tech Park, National Statistical Committee of Belarus, dev.by

Kanstantsin Lashkevich

About Kanstantsin Lashkevich

Kanstantsin Lashkevich is editor-in-chief at dev.by, a leading tech news website in Belarus. He has 12 years of experience with print and online media and has been honoured with a number of awards for high-quality journalism from the Belarusian Association of Journalists. He is a Chevening Scholarship holder from UK’s Foreign Office and he earned his MA degree, in International Politics, from City University, London (2012).

At the beginning of July, the Russian media reported on the success of two Belarusian programmers. Gennady Korotkevich and Adam Bardashevich, both students at the St Petersburg ITMO University, teamed up to win $16,000 in the finals of the VK Cup 2016. This event is widely regarded as the biggest competitive programming competition in the Russian-speaking world.

Korotkevich is originally from Gomel, in south-eastern Belarus, and it is here that he fell in love with coding; gaining a basic computer science background.  He has already been called “a legend” by western media and he is still only 21 years old. “The only person making a living at sports programming”, he has won all the sport programming titles you could imagine, including: the Facebook Hacker Cup, the Google Code Jam, the World programming championships ACM ICPC and six consecutive gold medals in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI).

It is not, however, Korotkevich only.

Korotkevich and Bardashevich (in the middle) — winners of the VK Cup Source: VK Cup
Korotkevich & Bardashevich (in the middle) from VK Cup Source: VK Cup

If you have a look at the all-time medal ranking of the International Olympiad in Informatics, an annual competitive programming competition for high school students since 1989, you will find Belarus in the top 15 of the world’s strongest nations (and it is ranked 6th in Europe).

Belarus’s strong tradition of science and technology education originates from the Soviet era. While social sciences were and still are restrained by a lack of democratic freedoms and traditions, technical education is free from any ideological barriers blossoms in Belarus. The Eastern European country has a population of 9.5 million people and has managed to preserve the best of the heritage of its Soviet education. As a result, more than 3,500 young Belarusians graduate every year, from 14 state universities, with majors in Computer Science and other IT-related disciplines.

The local tech talent pool, together with the state policy of supporting software companies, were the two main reasons that Belarus has become one of the major IT outsourcing destinations in Eastern Europe. “Belarus — the new Silicon Valley?” Reuters asks.

It all started with EPAM Systems, a software engineering services’ company which was founded, both in Belarus and the US, by two former Minsk classmates. Today it’s a global software engineering giant with a capitalisation of over 3 billion dollars, offices in 23 countries and a staff of 18,000. The company’s major R&D office still operates in Belarus, employing over 7,000 people, in all the regional centres.

All in all, around 1,000 tech companies are at work in Belarus, of which the top 50 employ between 100 to 7,000 employees each, as the latest dev.by monitoring showed. Today, 159 local tech companies work, as residents of the Belarus’s High Tech Park, bringing together 25,000 tech professionals. The Tech Park was established back in 2005 by a decree from the Belarusian president and it safeguards its residents with a special preferential tax regime that significantly lowers operational expenditures.

The governmental strategic policy, which is aimed at boosting IT exports, has brought global technological brands to Belarus. After ten years of operation in Belarus’s High Tech Park, a range of tech world trendsetters: Viber, Fitbit, Playtika, IHS, Yandex, WorkFusion and Juno, to name but a few, have opened their R&D centres in this country.

“We find top-class developers here — both professionally and personally,” Talmon Marco, Viber’s co-founder and CEO, explaining the decision to build a developmental team, for his ambitious new car sharing service Juno, in Minsk.

In order to fulfil their needs for up-to-date and skilled university graduates, a growing number of tech companies started investing in the Belarusian education system. Because of this there are 65 R&D laboratories operating in universities across the country, under the supervision of the Hi-Tech Park’s residents.

Against the backdrop of a deepening crisis in the traditional sectors of the Belarusian economy, the technological industry is growing rapidly in this country. Considering the fact that the average monthly salary in the Belarusian tech sphere ($1,600) exceeded that of all other industries ($420) fourfold in 2015, the IT job market saw a record number of applications from people, from all walks of life. The amount of offers for various non-academic coding trainings, courses and boot camps for both adults and kids has also reached the highest level in recent years.

The increasing expanding IT job market, with its high demand for top-class programmers, has changed the personal attitudes of a whole generation of Belarusians considerably. Ten years ago, many talented tech graduates and professionals were leaving the country in search of a better life and greater opportunities. Today more and more of them prefer to stay home, attracted by global employers’ local branches and salaries attached to hard currencies as well as a cheaper cost of living compared to the EU and the US.

Success stories about Belarusian product companies (Wargaming, Apalon, Masquerade), together with the tech world trendsetters’ entrance into the market, have stimulated the local start-up ecosystem’s development. There were over 70 meet-ups, conferences, talks and discussion events for software engineers, managers and tech entrepreneurs organised in Minsk in May-June 2016 alone. The major problem here is a complete lack of local venture capitalist and angel investor community.    

Software development is booming in Belarus, which means the world will certainly hear about new names of Belarusian coding talents such as Gennadiy Korotkevich. The world will become familiar with new made-in-Belarus products such as World of Tanks and MSQRD. Minsk will definitely see more R&D centres, from well-known tech companies, coming in the near future. Unless, of course, the Belarusian government changes the rules of the game for the IT sector, as has repeatedly happened before with other industries.


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


EBRD Emerging Europe Outlook on Belarus 2016

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

‘No’ To a Monetary Union With Russia

Belarus is the most creative EEU country

Join our networking seminar in London on November 30

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

Belarusian Economy on a Diet to Change its Financial Outlook

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

New investors interested in Belarus’ Great Stone Industrial Park

Are Labour Shortages Driving Economic Growth?

Belarus: On the Way to a Market Economy?

High-Tech Park in Minsk is growing rapidly

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

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

Business Opportunities in Belarus Encourage Outside Interest

Invest in Belarus: looking beyond politics to the future

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

Encouraging SME’s Development Will Help Build Belarusian Economy

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

The essence of the Customs Union is protectionism

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

The Belarusian Banking Sector Moving Towards Modernisation Despite Some Challenges

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

Belarus: MOST Builds a Bridge to the Future

Belarus US Business Relations Thrive as Conditions Improve

From Denmark to Belarus — A Personal Experience of Business

Cautious Upturn in Emerging Europe Haunted by the Spectre of Uncertainty

Donald Trump

The Reality Is More Interesting Than the Misconceptions

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

The Belarusian Economy: The Challenges of Stalled Reforms

Brexit Makes Waves Across the European Union and Beyond

Not All Quiet on the Eastern Front

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

Emerging Europe Live: CEE — The Outsourcing Destination

The EU Is Encouraging Belarus to Join the World Trade Organisation

Belarus’s Election Tests the EU’s Global Strategy

Smart, reliable and promising

PandaDoc — Rolling Sales Procedures Together So Everyone Succeeds

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

Outsourcing in Germany: Stop Talking at and Start Talking to

Belarus 2020: Turning the Vicious Circle Into an Upward Spiral

Belarus Is Making the First Steps onto the International Finance Floor

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

The Belarusian real estate market is on the up

Belarus is Bringing Opportunities for European Companies

Great Stone

Belarus and Singapore Share the Same Factors for Economic Success

Emerging Europe Live: Life in Belarus As Seen by Foreigners

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

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

Italy and Belarus: A Relationship Based on Complementarities and History

Germany and Belarus: Thinking Globally Acting Locally

The Deep Roots of Currency Crises in the Former Soviet Union

Belarus: The Importance Of Diversification

Lukashenka seeks to avoid commitment to Russia’s geostrategic goals

Belarus Is Where the New Silk Road Heads For Europe

Belarus Is Ready to Begin With Venture Capital Investments

Innovation Brings Great Opportunities to the Belarusian Economy

Breaking trade barriers with CIS has never been easier

Belarusian Economic Recovery May Downgrade Intended Reforms for Competitiveness

Young Well-Paid IT Specialists Are Making Belarus Known Internationally

HTP: Belarus’ Engineers Are Leading a Cool Revolution

FocusEconomics: Belarusian Economy to Grow in Q4 2016 and Onwards

One Belt One Road: a Big Task for Europe

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

Winds of Change for Belarus’ Reinsurance Industry?

Central And Eastern Europe At the World Property Market

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

Brexit Is a Great Opportunity to Attract Foreign Investors to Belarus

Foreign Investors: Belarus Offers Opportunities But Further Improvements Are Needed

Belarus Has Set an Example for Others to Follow

The EU’s Benign Neglect Of Eastern Europe

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

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

Bringing Belarus’ Cultural Past to Life for Belarusians and the World

Belarus: Navigating the geopolitical storm

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

Belarus Is One of the Top Outsourcing Destinations of 2016

The Next Four Months Crucial For the Belarus-EU Relations

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

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

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

Leave a Reply

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