Nestled cosily in the middle of Europe, Vilnius is not likely to be the first place that comes to a tech entrepreneur’s mind when contemplating where to set up shop. But the capital city of Lithuania is making a name for itself as one of the best places in the European Union (EU) to launch a digital product or service—especially when it comes to attaining resources like incubation space and funding.
Over the last few years, the city has taken great strides towards becoming the EU’s premier technological hotspot, offering a range of international opportunities for the ever-growing network of local startups. Should you consider Vilnius as a potential home for your tech venture? We believe so—and here are 11 reasons why.
11. Not an EU resident? No problem.
Lithuania recently implemented a Startup Visa Program that allows talented non-EU entrepreneurs and their families to gain temporary legal residency while pursuing their startup aspirations. No capital or employment requirements are enforced —all that’s required is a truly innovative, original business idea presented to/accepted by a panel of experts.
10. Vilnius is home to a myriad of startup events.
For example, the city home to the annual LOGIN Startup Fair, the biggest startup event of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. Every year it attracts a thriving community of entrepreneurs—as well as local/international investors—and provides participants with networking opportunities hard to come by anywhere else in the world.
9. If you are looking for funding, look no further.
As of late, the city has become a hotbed of investment activity. Case in point: Vilnius-based Nextury Ventures has invested in over 20 startups since 2014, and is constantly on the lookout for world-changing ideas and projects.
8. An abundance of tech innovation hubs and co-working spaces.
Co-working spaces are on the rise in Vilnius—for example, the flourishing Vilnius Tech Park is the biggest technological startup hub in the Baltics, boasting a growing community of over 700 entrepreneurs and business development partners. Other notable features include ultra-modern office and co-working spaces and conference centre, all within walking distance of Vilnius’ beautiful old town.
7. The fastest internet speeds in Europe.
It’s true: Lithuania is officially recognised as having some of the fastest internet connection speeds in the world. For companies launching digital products and services, Vilnius’ data backbone and infrastructure is second to none.
6. Low cost of living.
Vilnius is an inexpensive city to live and start your business, especially when it comes to hiring skilled employees– the majority of young Lithuanians are fluent English speakers, well-educated in a multitude of IT disciplines, and available for a fraction of a Silicon Valley employee’s compensation.
5. Tech initiatives supported by local academic powerhouses.
An abundance of startup programs exist that are fueled by local universities—for example, The Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park is supported by Vilnius’ most prominent Universities: Vilnius University, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, and others. The center provides innovation support, rental premises, virtual offices, and other resources.
4. Friendly competition amongst local entrepreneurs and innovators.
Vilnius is known for its continuous promotion of brave entrepreneurship—recently, the city hosted its first “Hacker Games Pro”—a IoT hackathon for bringing ambitious enthusiasts and established businesses together in the pursuit of new, innovative talent and software solutions. Winners see their idea brought to life with the help of experienced mentors and resources provided by the Vilnius Tech Park.
3. Connectivity to the global Rise community.
Vilnius is one of the seven cities connected by “Rise”, a global Fintech network established by Barclays in efforts to improve financial services globally. To date, 10 Lithuanian startups have joined the ever-expanding network of global innovators building the future of banking and finance.
2. Leading business and tech events in the Baltics.
“#LAUNCH,” the biggest young business forum in the Baltics, also takes place in Vilnius. The event includes conferences hosted by leading Lithuanian entrepreneurs and investors, as well as various workshops in crowdfunding, e-commerce, taxes, and other topics.
1. A plethora of tax incentives.
The government has made available an array of tax incentives for startup founders, including a special flat startup tax regime and other talent-based incentives, such as benefits for highly-qualified employees with PhDs.
So, is Vilnius on its way to becoming the Baltic’s version of Silicon Valley? Only time will tell—but with the amount of support initiatives underway, continued support from the Lithuanian government, and the enthusiasm of its promising young generation of tech entrepreneurs, Vilnius’ tech startup ecosystem is a force to be reckoned with in the coming months and years.