With a rapidly evolving tech ecosystem, Ukraine is this year taking a step forward by organising its very first national pavilion at Web Summit in Lisbon to represent the country’s start-ups, IT service companies, funds and innovation.
Ukraine’s IT industry is currently booming, and is growing five times faster than the global average. The country is home to 5,000 IT companies, 250,000 developers, five unicorn, and Ukrainian start-ups have raised two billion US dollars in venture capital investments over the past six years.
By 2025, the industry is projected to generate 10 billion US dollars per year.
Ukraine at Web Summit 2021
A number of events dedicated to Ukraine have been included in the official agenda of Web Summit.
On November 2, prominent Ukrainian tech companies will showcase the Ukrainian tech ecosystem, an event backed by Digital Future, a venture capital firm that focuses on seed and early-stage investments in tech companies with Ukrainian DNA.
Additionally, in order to support and strengthen the brand of Ukraine as a high-tech country, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov will deliver a separate presentation on one of Web Summit’s stages.
The minister will present the key achievements of Ukrainian digitalisation over the past two years with special focus on the Diia ecosystem. He also plans to highlight the topics that might be of high interest to investors and IT-specialists: the special legal framework of Diia City with tax optimisation for the IT industry, and the e-Residency project.
Andrew Wrobel, Emerging Europe’s founding partner and the lead of Tech Emerging Europe Advocates will moderate the session.
Later that night a special Ukrainian evening reception will take place at one of Lisbon’s venues. Partners of this event are Kyivstar, a leading Ukrainian telecommunications company and member of the International Telecom Group VEON, and UNIT.City innovation park.
On top of that, 14 teams will pitch their start-ups to investors. Ten of these were selected and are being sponsored by the Ukrainian Startup Fund via a competitive selection. These are: SPOKK, Organization GG, Wantent, GIOS, Carbominer, Skyworker, Clasee, DJOOKY, AutoBI, Finmap. They will receive a promo voucher with funding of up to 3,000 US dollars per team.
Although this is the first time that Ukraine has had an official stand at Web Summit, Ukrainians have been organising side events since 2017.
Four years ago, the UTEW Tech Tribe community led by Alexandra Govorukha and Inna Stelmakh organised a Ukrainian meetup for more than 150 guests with speakers from the US, Germany and Ireland.
In 2019 a Surf Pitch Night was held by Ukrainian tech ecosystem players (UTEW Tech Tribe, TechUkraine, IT Ukraine), government institutions (Export Promotion Office) and backed by international NGOs and funds (USAID Ukraine and GIZ Ukraine, USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine).
At this event, 21 start-up founders pitched to the 200 international guests from Techstars, Startup Lisboa, and other leading accelerators and funds. The same year UNIT.City innovation park organised a Ukrainian party which gathered more than 300 guests.
What stakeholders think
“The joint presentation of the Ukrainian pavilion at the biggest and best-known tech conference in Europe — Web Summit, is an indicator that business and government are moving in the same direction. Ukraine is about to become a powerful global IT hub. We have many things to offer other countries: digital public services, innovative projects and a developed IT industry. Participation in the Web Summit will have a positive effect on improving the image of Ukraine as a digital state for the future and as a favourable location for investors,” says Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and minister of digital transformation.
“In my personal view, many Ukrainian start-ups are quite confident and well-prepared to enter international markets with their products. For a start-up it is vitally important to be able to scale in the most efficient and easiest way possible, so USF is eager to facilitate this process. I’m confident that Web Summit is a special and unique platform and a great opportunity for networking and acceleration,” says Pavlo Kartashov, CEO of Ukrainian Startup Fund.
“Ukrainians are known worldwide for their IT skills and creativity. As the government is introducing a special legal framework for IT companies — Diia City, we expect further development of Ukraine as a European hub for innovation and R&D. Ukraine’s participation in Web Summit 2021 became possible thanks to the joint efforts of the Ukrainian government and the private sector,” says Dmytro Senik, deputy foreign minister of Ukraine, Chief Digital Transformation Officer.
Alexandra Govorukha, a representative of the organising committee, and head of international PR at Sigma Software Group also believes that the creation of a national pavilion at events of such scale is the best path and next logical step for Ukraine: “The Ukrainian community has always been represented at WebSummit by a large number of companies. The appearance of our own pavilion for the first time is a signal that we are perceived as serious and influential players in the technology field. It is extremely important for a country’s image to be well represented at an event that encompasses the whole ecosystem.”
Anna Derevyanko, European Business Association executive director highlights that Ukrainian IT is actively developing and is gradually becoming a leading sector of the economy: “Our IT companies provide services in many areas that are booming now: Big Data, Telecom, Cloud services, E-Commerce, FinTech, etc. Also, according to Skillvalue, Ukrainian developers ranked fourth in Europe and 5th in the world in terms of service quality. So, now is the right time to show the brilliance of Ukrainian IT at the national stand.”
The first-ever pavilion at Web Summit is a joint effort of the Ukrainian Startup Fund, Ministry of Digital Transformation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Ukraine in Portugal, Sigma Software Group, Ukrainian Hub, Еuropean Business Association, iplace digital agency — and partners Digital Future, Kyivstar, Parimatch Tech, Rocket, Fondy, Avenga, ISSP, Concord Fintech Solutions, UNIT.City, IT Ukraine, and IT EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT.