From smart mattresses, that track and improve sleep quality, to production of green energy - foreign start-ups with innovative ideas are becoming increasingly bold to choose Lithuania for developing their businesses.
Over the first three months of this year alone, 45 foreigners were granted permission to develop 18 innovative businesses in Lithuania through the Startup Visa program, according to the government agency Enterprise Lithuania.
“To become a country of thousand start-ups, Lithuania must become attractive not only to local innovators, but also to start-ups from other countries,” Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Minister of Economy and Innovation, is quoted in a press release.
The government is planning to shorten Startup Visa procedures and introduce a special “Startup Employee Visa” to allow firms to import foreign talent that they need more easily, he adds.
According to Roberta Rudokienė, who heads Startup Lithuania, the start-up ecosystem development department of Enterprise Lithuania, this represents a significant quantitative leap.
“All year round, together with the partners, we organize meetings, information events in their countries about the Lithuanian start-up ecosystem,” she says. “The growing number of foreigners who are interested in Lithuania and the applications we receive suggest that our measures to attract start-ups are effective.”
In the first quarter of 2019, the Startup Visa program received 62 applications from foreign companies wishing to move their business to Lithuania, twice as many as over the corresponding period last year.
Most of the applications came from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and China. The firms want to develop solutions in financial technologies, green energy, e-commerce.
Of these, 18 applications were granted. Four of the firms have already settled in Lithuania, another 4 companies currently register their activities in the country. Foreign start-ups have 3 months to make us of Startup Visa.
Network of Partners ensures quality and enables optimization of processes
Rudokienė notes that, in addition to growing numbers of applicants, the quality of applications has also improved significantly.
A number of accelerator funds have provided start-ups with basic training on how to develop their businesses, and later invest in these companies.
Rudokienė also says that an emerging network of partners is there to help optimize processes, for example, to shorten the procedures of Startup Visa program for those start-ups who have passed the accelerator selection.
“Foreign innovators will be able to move to Lithuania much faster and develop their business in our country. This option will be available this year,” according to Rudokienė.
Entrepreneurs and their families are also offered individual consultations about settling in Lithuania and dealing with legal, tax or other issues.