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Kyiv: Europe’s new tech destination

StartupBlink has launched the Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report 2019 that now ranks 1,000 cities and 100 countries worldwide and is available for download here.

Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine and Ukraine’s startup capital. Around 60% of the tech ecosystem of Ukraine is based at Kyiv.

It’s a home for more than 500 startups and more than 150 coworking spaces, incubators, accelerators, tech universities, and communities. Ukraine has 185 000 tech specialists with outstanding skills in AI and math – and around 50% of them are based at Kyiv (17% in Kharkiv, 13% in Lviv). Kyiv is one of the most dynamic startup ecosystems in Eastern Europe and a great spot for developing new businesses and creative ideas.

  • It holds more than 1000 startup and tech events annually.
  • More than 20 new venture capital funds have established their offices here for the last few years.
  • The average annual growth of new tech specialists here is 20% year-to-year.
  • It’s a new popular place for filming for global brands and musicians like Miley Cyrus, Apple, Google Play, Lacoste, etc.

The last 5 years have become crucial for Ukraine in general and its local tech ecosystem especially. A country is experiencing exciting times – and already have something to be proud of. Especially in SaaS and AI industries.

There are two key reasons for that.

  1. In 2017 UNIT.City, Ukraine’s first Innovation Park, was opened and that shifted the whole landscape of the tech ecosystem in Kyiv. It’s a 27 ha of space for 15 000 tech jobs, 2000 tech students and 300+ startups, labs, and R&D centers. UNIT.City produces 20+ startup programs and 300+ tech events annually.
  2. Ukraine has got its first big exits and success stories such as RingLabs (Doorbell startup acquired by Amazon for $1 bln with key R&D department in Ukraine), Looksery (AI based AR technology acquired by Snap Inc. for $150 mln), GitLab (Cloud platform became a unicorn with $130 mln of investments), Grammarly (Ukrainian AI SaaS startup raised $110 mln in the last round) and Viewdle (AI based image search platform acquired by Google for $45 mln).

The biggest players in the ecosystem are UNIT.City (already one of the biggest innovation districts in CEE), RadarTech (Ukraine’s first corporate accelerator), 1991 (Ukraine’s first Civic Tech accelerator and Open Data incubator), UVCA (a concentration of key Ukrainian VC funds), WNISEF (a regional private equity fund, funded by the U.S. government), Chasopys (the first Ukrainian coworking space), Center42 (the center for innovations and digital transformations of business), and such key funds as AVentures, U.Ventures, TA Ventures, IG.VC and Digital Future.

Kyiv is a country capital with a 4 mln population – so it’s safe here, with a lot of business opportunities and outwork activities. It has a unique combination of American creativity, Eastern European costs, and highly skilled developers. It’s a growing bridge between Europe and Asia, between Baltics and Dubai.

Kyiv is becoming a really nice place to live in and work for creative and ambitious youth. And, of course, a lot of great food with tons of wonderful bars, restaurants, hipster local spots, hipster coffee, and pleasantly cheap prices.

Two next big challenges for Ukraine’s tech ecosystem are to attract more venture capital to Kyiv and to build more powerful connections with global markets. Nevertheless, Kyiv seems to have all the chances to become a brand new startup capital of Eastern Europe.

Written by Kirill Mazur, Head of Ecosystem & Corporate Innovations at UNIT.City