‘Start-ups and tech will be key to rebuilding’: Google launches Ukraine Support Fund

Google for Startups has launched a Ukraine Support Fund worth five million US dollars to allocate equity-free cash awards throughout 2022.

According to the IT Association of Ukraine, around 85 per cent of the country’s IT workers continue to deliver services for their clients. Some 70 per cent are doing so from safe areas within Ukraine, while a further 16 per cent (mainly women) have relocated to other countries.

Some Ukrainian firms have even reported growth since February 24, when Russia invaded the country.

“We are opening new offices around the world, attracting new clients, as well as receiving new projects from our current customers. We are continuing our recruitment campaign abroad, and we are keen to hire Ukrainian specialists who fled,” Valery Krasovsky, the CEO and co-founder of Sigma Software Group, which has been providing IT services to enterprises, software product houses, and start-ups around the globe since 2002, told us last week.

Neither has innovation ground to a halt. Just this week, Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov told Emerging Europe that, “the process of digitalisation continues, even under cruise missile attacks.”

Indeed, the resilience of the Ukrainian IT sector has been one of the most inspirational stories of the war so far, and reflects the country’s ongoing ambition to become a global start-up hub, outlined in early February by President Volodymyr Zelensky at the 2022 Diia Summit in Kyiv, a showcase for Ukraine’s digital transformation.

“We want to more than double the size of our IT sector by 2025, from four per cent of GDP today to 10 per cent,” he said. “That would see the size of our tech sector reach 16.5 billion US dollars, and make it the largest tech hub in Europe.”

Google Startups Ukraine Support Fund

Support from the international tech community is crucial to achieving these ambitions, now – when the country is under Russian attack – more than ever.

Tech giant Google this week announced a Startups Ukraine Support Fund worth five million US dollars to allocate equity-free cash awards throughout 2022.

Selected Ukraine-based start-ups will be announced on a rolling basis and will receive up to 100,000 US dollars in non-dilutive funding as well as ongoing Google mentorship, product support and Cloud credits. This hands-on support is designed to help Ukrainian entrepreneurs maintain and grow their businesses, strengthen their community and build a foundation for post-war economic recovery.

“Ukraine has a strong and vibrant start-up community. Of the roughly 2,000 start-ups in Ukraine, 126 have raised venture capital funding since the beginning of 2021. Yesterday, our CEO Sundar Pichai met with a number of these Ukrainian entrepreneurs at our Google for Startups Campus Warsaw. Through these conversations, we heard practical ways that Google could help the start-up community,” wrote Agnieszka Hryniewicz-Bieniek, senior director Google for Startups on March 30.

Positive impact

“Funding is only one element of the support that is required. We’ve invited Ukrainian start-ups to use Google for Startups Campus Warsaw space as a temporary office. The first few start-ups — predominantly run by women who have fled the country — are already working from Campus, and we’ve witnessed their determination to succeed,” continued Hryniewicz-Bieniek.

“Support for Ukrainian-led start-ups will help them succeed and build the tech that their country needs now. And as the region starts to recover, start-ups and tech companies will be key to rebuilding the Ukrainian economy, creating jobs, and positively impact the cities they make their homes.”

To be eligible for the Google fund, start-ups must be founded and based in Ukraine before February 24, 2022, and must be post-MVP stage with proven traction.

Google says that companies with a social impact mission will be prioritised. Applications can be made throughout 2022.

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