Visit an espresso bar or a coworking bibliotech in Kyiv at noon or during the evening hours—you’re likely to encounter an abundance of techies with laptops. With the Ukrainian IT industry booming, many local young professionals are taking advantage of the country’s growing reputation as a tech powerhouse, either by joining existing upstarts or starting their own ventures.
Despite various economic and geopolitical challenges, Ukrainian tech projects are nonetheless experiencing continued successes and recognition on the global stage. Here are 7 reasons why Ukraine is becoming a major tech startup hub.
1. A booming, rapidly-expanding IT industry.
For years, Ukraine’s IT industry was powered by its own high-quality engineering pool and local projects. After gaining international acclaim in this regard, foreign projects set a new pace for the Ukrainian tech space-in fact, experts forecast that by the year 2020, the IT industry will make up to 6% of the total Ukrainian GDP.
2. An abundance of talent and brains.
Ukraine has been an ongoing provider of the best tech “brains” (e.g., programmers, engineers, designers) for the world’s biggest tech companies: Google, Microsoft, Uber, to name a few. Most IT firms in Ukraine reside in 5 major cities—Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk and Odessa—accounting for 86% of the market.
3. Awesome conditions for running an international tech startup business.
Ukraine offers a myriad of benefits for international tech startups: the lowest operating costs in Europe, professionals with European sensibilities, easy-to-obtain work permits and no visa requirements, and streamlined recruiting hiring processes, among others.
4. A developing tech startup market and hub of innovation.
Because of limited consumer demand in the domestic market, the majority of Ukrainian startups focus on broader, global markets. This allows them to attract a significant amount of foreign capital and serve as an inspiration for other tech newcomers. There are currently over 700 active Ukrainian startups, the majority of which are headquartered in Kyiv.
5. An educational system that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Traditionally, Ukrainian students are highly educated in the sciences, math, computer science, and technology. Additionally, critical problem solving and analytical skills are honed at a young age—making for highly effective entrepreneurs later in life.
6. A growing base for IT and business process outsourcing.
Ukraine is currently ranked in the top 5 countries globally when it comes to number of software engineers. The majority of these professionals are employed with IT development outsourcing providers—bolstering the country’s reputation worldwide as a wellspring of tech talent.
7. International validation and reliance on Ukraine’s local tech industry.
Given the country’s strategically important geographic position and favorable conditions for international business—coupled with the world’s high demand for quality IT solutions—the country is set to become a top global IT hub in 2017 and beyond. Enterprise IT firms such as EPAM, Softserve, Luxoft, and Ciklum—the latter which is a George Soros Foundation-invested company—have set their roots in Ukraine.
In short, the Ukrainian startup environment is fast becoming known across the globe as an ideal launching ground for new tech ventures. With a customer-focused mindset stemming from its IT outsourcing roots—supported by investment capital to power local entrepreneurial efforts—the local tech industry is one to watch in 2017 and beyond.