On December 11, 2020 the East Coast: IT Investment Forum took place in Mariupol. Top specialists from Ukrainian IT companies discussed the attractiveness of the eastern region of Ukraine for investors and IT professionals. 10 startups were presented at the forum, and the best of them obtained financing..

East Coast Forum: IT Investment Forum is one of the main IT events of the year in eastern Ukraine. It was attended by 15 speakers from the fields of business, innovative technologies, startup investments and brand communication. The IT vision of the region and the reasons that make development of a startup in the east of Ukraine attractive were discussed at the panels..

"If we take the global trends, then in order for talents, programmers and investors to come, you need to offer some advantages of the region. There are two of them. The first is the sea, whatever it is. We can keep talking about ecology, but things are changing.The coke plant is getting moved to the outskirts. The second one is industry. I'm talking about industry in the sense of industrial tech (industrial technologies). The industry is developing at a high rate. If you organize the efficient work of the IT industry to make the Donetsk region a platform for product testing, then there is no need to go to the USA. This does not mean that all factories should be transformed into IT hubs. We need to establish collaborations," says Viktor Gursky, co-founder of Social Boost.
"There is a myth that success comes if you are based in a big hub, say, London or Berlin, or if you go to Silicon Valley. Examples prove that you don’t have to be in a large market to make your company successful. This largely concerns the eastern region of Ukraine. A startup needs to be careful with finances. Living in London costs about 2.5 thousand euros per month. Housing costs are high in Europe. And all this affects salaries. In Kyiv the cost of living is approximately 700-800 euros per month, and even less in the eastern region, I think," says Oleksandra Balkova, the operations director of the SaaS program of the European B2B accelerator Startup Wise Guys.

She also believes that we should not forget that Ukraine is the largest country in Europe and there are many talented people capable of creating competitive products. And at the same time, there is a lack of investment in Ukraine.

"Due to this reason startups are looking for investors and are entering international markets. If there is a lack of investment in the country, an entrepreneur's thinking becomes global," adds Oleksandra Balkova.

As part of the forum, Mariupol signed a Memorandum on the creation of the Startup Fund with USAID and Social Boost.

"Many investors are held back by the risks involved in financing startups. The fund is a mechanism that provides guarantees for new initiatives that will help ensure the flow of new opportunities for the development of Eastern Ukraine. This step is necessary for the development of the region's economy. We invite other partners to join the initiative," said Michael Pillsbury, Director of USAID's "Economic Support of Eastern Ukraine" project.

The fund should not only make Mariupol more attractive, but also draw investments to the city that will help finance startups.

In July 1991 Mariupol showed its potential for the first time, demonstrating seven ready-made startups. One of them, the VAHTA attendance control system, was rated as the best by the jury and received financing for further development. Now VAHTA is operational in several Mariupol city institutions.

The second incubation wave brought 10 more startups to the city, Mariupol and Kharkov residents and Estonian citizens being involved.

Media material "Eastern option".