Startup entrepreneurs from Lithuania and Israel will get new opportunities for growth and development thanks to an agreement signed this week between leading tech parks in the two countries, a press release from Vilnius Tech Park states.
The deal, made between Sapiegos Tech Park in Vilnius and Hubanana tech hub in Ra’nana, will create an ongoing startup exchange programme between the two hubs. The partnership, signed during a joint Lithuania-Israel panel at the June Tech 2016 conference in Ra’nana, also includes measures for connecting the Israeli and Lithuanian startup ecosystems.
Opening up new gateways
The partnership is an acknowledgment of the huge potential present both in the highly developed Israeli startup ecosystem and in Vilnius’ rapidly growing startup scene. For Israeli entrepreneurs, the Lithuanian capital represents the perfect spot for expansion into continental Europe thanks to its convenient location and favourable business environment.
The exchange agreement creates a wealth of enticing opportunities for companies from both communities. Israeli startups will be able to stay at Sapiegos Tech Park in Vilnius, where they will get a free working space for up to two weeks plus use of the parks’ vast business development infrastructure. This includes bespoke consultancy on legal issues, HR, communications, and EU Horizon 2020 funding for SME’s, plus many additional services, all at exclusive community rates.
And of course, with more than 700 startuppers working in the park’s renovated 19th Century buildings plus regular onsite events, the exchange will also give Israeli startups a unique opportunity to network and establish valuable business connections within the EU.
In return, members of the Sapiegos community will be able to stay in Hubanana tech hub and make use of the infrastructure and connections it offers to polish their ideas, look for investors or grow and develop their business. For Lithuania-based startups, this represents a unique opportunity to evaluate their business potential in one of the most developed startup ecosystems globally.
A growing partnership
According to Len Judes, founder of the Israel-Lithuania Technology Hub, which initiated and facilitated the partnership, it is natural that business connections between Israel and Lithuania are growing. “Lithuania has recently reached 13th position in the Index of Economic freedom, making it one of the most business friendly countries globally. It is also a global leader for internet speeds and its population is considered to be amongst the most IT-literate in Europe. Naturally, any company looking for a gateway to the EU should look at Lithuania”, Mr. Judes comments.
The most prominent Israeli tech company so far to have spotted Lithuania’s potential is Wix.com, and Mr. Judes believes many others will soon be following them to Vilnius. And with Lithuania planning to introduce a new startup visa for innovative SMEs this autumn, this is a trend that could rapidly develop.
Idan Meir, Manager of Hubanana, believes that thanks to the new partnership with Sapiegos, Lithuania can become a first step for Israeli startups into the EU market. “A lot of our members are looking for new opportunities and to grow into the EU market,” he says. “This can be a challenging step for a small company, but I am confident that our partnership with Sapiegos will make it easier for these talented entrepreneurs. They can simply go, establish connections and take further steps in confidence. Plus Lithuania is very competitive in comparison to Western Europe, as it has a business friendly environment and government policy focused on startup encouragement, and also offers unbeatable cost competitiveness.”
For Darius Zakaitis, Managing Director at Sapiegos Tech Park in Vilnius, this partnership is a natural step in growing the business connections between Israel and Lithuania. “We have a dual role at Sapiegos Tech Park,” he says, “we help local startups to grow internationally and we are a focal point for innovative companies entering the EU. This new partnership is ideal for meeting both of these objectives. It will open up new opportunities for our community to learn from the most advanced startup ecosystem globally and to create valuable new business connections. Furthermore, it enables us to assist Israeli startups in their exciting journeys into Europe,” explains Mr Zakaitis.
And the connection between the two tech hubs is not going to stop at exchanges. A plan for holding annual joint events for both communities is currently being discussed, with the Lithuanian panel’s presence at June Tech being the start of this tradition. In the following months, both organisations will draw up the criteria for startups to participate in the exchange programme, which will then be launched as part of Sapiegos Tech Park in Vilnius’ official opening this autumn.