The city as a trendsetter: From startups to big companies

07 Apr, 2016

“Lviv needs success story,” says Jaanika Merilo, Chief Innovation Officer of Lviv.  Along with e-government and resident card, she focuses on the importance of startups for the city and the formation of a comfortable IT environment. To find out about Lviv IT development, cooperation between the officials and the companies, and sphere’s potential in Ukraine, read our interview.

More startups for the city

“IT creates workplaces in many other areas,” says Jaanika. In particular, a programmer employs three more people, and also increases the general standard of living. Jaanika is positive: this is not the complete potential because Lviv and Ukrainian prospects are much bigger.

“100 thousand of IT specialists is a lot in quantity, but there are many opportunities for growth,” Jaanika says. She adds: “On average in Europe, ІСТ is approximately 4% of GDP.” Therefore, the goal of the local IT market is to reach this figure. As for Lviv IT market, it is 2.7 of city GRP, and 1.3 GRP of Lviv region. It is also home to fifteen thousand IT specialists.IMG_6865

According to Jaanika, Lviv startups are not chasing IT investors because the city has powerful IT companies that create good working conditions. “Lviv is a very comfortable and European city. Thanks to the current comfort, there is no investment hunger,” continues Jaanika. This makes Lviv different from other cities that lack these qualities, although investment hunger often drives innovation.

Besides promoting large companies, the city needs to develop an environment for creating smaller companies, too. It also needs to fully support startups, believes Jaanika. They are the most interesting for the foreign investors, and promote local experts. “The city can help startups to get more investments by becoming the first or the second client. There are really interesting applications the city can start to use, promote and distribute,” continues Jaanika. As an example, she cites startup competition that can be launched in Lviv, and crowdfunding to finance local startups.

We have to be in the top of innovative states

“We must create a success story in Lviv,” says Jaanika. It includes innovations, startups, companies, and products that would present the country in the world. “Success stories promote the country, and we need the projects which would remind the rest of the world where they come from,” she adds. It is important that success stories are not singular, and there are many successful products that can promote local experts.IMG_6889

“The entrepreneurs have to work on success stories, and the city can create an ecosystem where they can work effectively,” Jaanika convinces. Lviv is such a city because it understands the importance of IT, there are conditions for the comfortable work, and IT entrepreneurs are not afraid of illegal investigations. “The city does not create business, but it can create the conditions for business,” she states.

“The city will benefit if international players invest money here and open new branches,” says Jaanika. Although this will increase competition for employees, the new companies will improve the city image and increase the possibility of creating product companies, startups, and success stories. She continues: “We no longer have cheap programmers, so we need the big companies to open their R&D centers here to develop the entire market.”

Now, Jaanika focuses on strengthening the cooperation between the city and business.  Also, it is important to develop e-government which requires a lot of time.

“In the ranking of innovative states, Bloomberg placed Ukraine on 33rd place. With our potential, it should be the top ten,” concludes Jaanika.