World travelers may be enamored by Tirana’s colorful architecture and amazing cafe culture, but these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the city’s offerings. Located between Western and Eastern Europe, Albania’s capital is evolving into a premier destination for tech entrepreneurs and digital startups.
Already, an energetic startup community guided by local players is carving out a name for Albania in the global tech startup arena. The following are the top 9 reasons why the Tirana is ideal for launching a startup.
9. A cost-effective, modern workforce comprised of skilled professionals.
Qualified talent in Tirana is both inexpensive and plentiful, especially when compared to other comparable cities in EU and EU-candidate nations. The relatively low cost of labor makes the city ideal for building tech startup teams on a shoestring budget.
8. Starting a business is a simple and low (no) cost affair in Tirana.
Tirana-bound entrepreneurs anxious to hit the ground running with their ventures will appreciate Albania’s simplified procedures for starting a business. Additionally, registration for a one-stop business costs only 1 euro.
7. Significant tax incentives for new businesses and startups.
Tirana startups enjoy a remarkable benefit of bootstrapping in Albania: zero taxes. Back in November of 2015, the Albania’s Prime Minister announced that the government was planning to cut taxes to zero for small businesses with an annual turnover between 0-50.000.000 Albanian LEK (around 364,000 Euros).
6. An ideally situated tech startup hub.
Tirana’s city center is located just 17km from Tirana International Airport (TIA), named as the Best Southern European Station of 2017 by Aegean Airlines. And just 30km away is the Port of Durrës, the country’s most important seaport and one of the largest passenger ports in the Adriatic Sea—making easy travel to Italy and other EU destinations possible via ferry lines.
5. The rise of co-working offerings in Tirana.
Though a relatively new phenomenon in Albania, co-working is becoming a popular way for Tirana-based startups to get connected in the country’s fledging startup community. Some prominent local co-working organizations include The Talent Garden, MyOffice.al, and the forthcoming Innovation Hub, to name a few. Additionally, the Tirana Business Park—in close proximity to the airport, city center, and seaports—is an important business community hub.
4. A cosmopolitan, multilingual population of young professionals.
70% of the population is between 15 and 29 years of age, making it the second youngest in Europe (after Kosovo). They are also highly proficient in foreign languages: English and Italian are popular amongst Albanian youth, followed by German, French, Greek, and Spanish.
3. An ideal consumer market with high purchasing power.
Tirana’s population boasts the highest purchasing power in Albania. This, coupled with the country’s labor markets—among the cheapest of the region—make it ideal for building and launching digital products and services.
2. Government programs for spurring local tech startup innovation.
Organizations such as the Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA) regularly provide support and resources to local startups. Other prominent initiatives include The Protik ICT Resource Center, established by the Government of Albania, USAID, the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF), Microsoft, Cisco, and Albtelecom. Its goal is to become the Albanian ICT hub: a connection point for those seeking the latest and most innovative ideas, products, and services.
1. A myriad of grassroots and private programs supporting local startups and open source innovation.
Some of these include GARAZH (The Garage), a project aimed at promoting/shaping tech startup innovation in Tirana, and Open Labs, a community promoting online privacy and open source technologies, data, and technological standards. Regular events like Startup Weekend Tirana and OSCAL (Open Source Conference Albania) ensure that the local community is up-to-speed with the latest IT and computing advances.
In many respects, the city of Tirana is itself a startup—but with ample resources provided by the Albanian government and global enterprises across the world, from Microsoft to Cisco. It’s therefore no surprise that startups across the globe are looking at the city as a potential home base for their tech ventures. And as the local tech startup community expands, you can expect to see more digital products and services emerging from this vibrant, dynamic city.