Other investors also acknowledged achievements of Lithuanian entrepreneurs. “The Lithuanian startup ecosystem could be described in these five words: technical, perseverance, networkers, community, underserved,” shared Linus Dahg, Associate of Wellington Partners, UK. Yanki Margalit, social entrepreneur and investor from Israel, evaluated the projects presented at the fair even simpler: “Less marketing and more content.” Both of them agreed that Lithuania deserves more international attention (startuplithuania.lt, 2015).
This text is a step in this direction: it will present 5 facts about Lithuania which entrepreneurs and investors looking for new business opportunities should be aware of.
Fact 1: Lithuania’s competitiveness index is improving very fast. In the 2015 IMD World Competitiveness ranking of 61 selected countries, it ranks 28th. It is a 6-position improvement since last year. This is the best Lithuania’s result so far as well as the best performance in the region this year. Estonia has declined by 1 position to the 31st, Poland has moved up by 3 positions to the 33rd, Latvia has declined by 8 positions to the 43rd. Lithuania has improved its competitiveness index in 6 categories: (1) by 7 positions in the economic growth category (from 44 in 2014 to 37 in 2015), (2) by 12 positions in the business effectiveness category (from 35 to 23), (3) by 13 positions in the availability of risk capital category (from 24 to 11), (4) by 8 positions in the international investment category (from 49 to 41), (5) by 7 positions in the government efficiency category (from 32 to 25) and (6) by 15 positions in the ease of doing business category (from 32 to 17) (startuplithuania.lt, 2015).
Fact 2: “2014 was a record year for Lithuanian startups". This is how Enterprise Lithuania (2015) has summarised the results of the Startup Lithuania 2014 survey, which has evaluated the performance of 52 innovative IT startups. Last year they attracted EUR 46 million in investment, had 405 employees and paid over EUR 2 million in tax in total. In 2013 these figures were much lower: there were EUR 34 million in investment, over 200 employees and approx. EUR 0.5 million tax. In addition, 2014 marks some other positive changes: branches of Game Insight, WIX, Uber were established, the game industry was developing successfully and a life sciences startup ecosystem project was launched. For more information on the achievements of the Lithuanian startup community last year, please see the survey overview.
Fact 3: On 10 June the Sunrise Valley Centre for Technology and Innovation was officially opened. It is part of the Science and Technology Park (STP) of the Institute of Physics, Vilnius, which conducts research and experiments in applied sciences and facilitates integration of science and business by assisting enterprises in commercialising research results and coordinating activities of the Laser & Engineering Technologies Cluster (LITEK) (STP, 2015; litek.lt, 2012). The Centre for Technology and Innovation has already accepted 23 high-tech companies such as Ekspla, a laser technology company, Ferentis, a biotechnology company, as well as some companies specialising in optoelectronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering. In addition, the Centre complex has a modern laser centre and nanoengineering laboratory (Neverauskas, 2015).
Fact 4: Lithuania has one of the best Internet upload and download speeds in the world (Mančas, 2015). In the Ookla Household Upload Index, Lithuania is 5th with a 52.02 Mbps upload speed. It is the highest position in Europe. The EU average upload speed is 11.1 Mbps. In the Ookla Household Download Index, Lithuania’s result is also very high: it has been ranked 8th with a 57.93 Mbps download speed. It is the 3rd best European performance after Romania (5th position, 71.93 Mbps) and Sweden (6th position, 60.49 Mbps). The EU average download speed is 31.4 Mbps (16 June 2015 data).
Fact 5: Lithuanians are among the best educated European nations (Mančas, 2015). The 2011 Population and Housing Census by Statistics Lithuania shows that “one in five Lithuanian residents has a university degree”. The best educated age group are 20–29 year olds: 22.8% of them have higher education (The Lithuania Tribune, 2013). The 2012 Eurostat European Adult Education Survey (ADS), conducted in all the EU member states, also confirms that the Lithuanian society gives a lot of attention to professional qualifications. More than 75% of 20–24 year old local students enrolled in universities and colleges in the academic year 2011/12. The EU average enrolment rate was 64.1%.
For more information on business opportunities in Lithuania, please visit the websites of Enterprise Lithuania and Startup Lithuania.