At Startup Fair Lithuania last week, the city of Vilnius touted it’s position as a city-sized sandbox to develop and test new products. A radical open data policy that rivals Estonia’s and a slew of startup friendly regulations make Vilnius a startup ecosystem to watch.
Startup Fair Lithuania, an annual event bringing together the local startup ecosystem, takes a refreshingly honest approach to the conference format.
“What you are about to witness today is a bunch of rich people talking,” says mayor Remigijus Šimašius, opening the main stage.
But self-deprecation aside, Vilnius has been steadily positioning itself as landing spot for startups from around the world, and is slowly building up success as an innovation hub.
A city sandbox
Vilnius currently has five active sandbox programs within fintech, proptech, and energy, for any startup to test and create products in a live environment. As the largest financial center in the Baltic states, Vilnius has been especially bullish on promoting fintech. The fintech licensing process is the quickest in Europe, and the license allows companies to access all 28 EU countries.
Furthermore, the city has adopted a radical open data policy and the heels of their neighbor Estonia, and municipal data on everything from real transport to public finances is readily available.
“Lithuanian startups enjoyed digitized public sector and are only one step behind Estonia – startups here can move quickly,” says Erik Ackner, a startup community builder based in Berlin.
Embracing remote workers
Many startups in the Nordics area already retaining tech talent from Lithuania as part of remote programming teams. In fact, Lithuania has the highest rate of graduates in STEM degrees per capita in the CEE. Vilnius hopes to now promote teams moving their entirely with relocation programs and even a “workation” program that subsidizes companies to enter Vilnius on a weeklong “workation” and experience the business environment. Danish scale-up OrderYoyo participated in the program last year.