City of Vilnius names its next start-ups to watch
The second edition of the Vilnius Startup Museum awards celebrated start-ups ready to expand in Europe and an app created in response to Covid-19. In 2019, FDI Intelligence ranked Vilnius as the number one city in its first ever Tech Start-up FDI Attraction Index.
Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius, said: “Vilnius is known for being a growing tech hub, and its strengths lie in a regulatory environment, the abundance of technology talents, and favourable work-life balance conditions – all of which help all newcomers integrate into the markets with ease. Start-ups take full advantage of the city’s efforts to implement life-changing ideas.”
Research from the Financial Times service examined which cities were receiving the most tech start-up foreign direct investment (FDI) relative to population, for the period between 2016 and 2018. The global ranking saw the Lithuanian capital outstrip well-known start-up hubs such as New York, London, Singapore, Tel Aviv and Berlin.
Since then, the start-up ecosystem in Vilnius has not slowed its progress. The city itself sees to this by supporting the creation of innovation hubs and accelerators, as well as welcoming bank conditions for founders.
Last year, Vilnius added the Startup Museum to its start-up ecosystem. This space hosted at Talent Garden Vilnius tells the stories of prominent players in the city’s start-up scene, such as Vinted, Lithuania’s first tech unicorn.
This month, the Startup Museum hosted its second annual awards ceremony to celebrate just some of the new start-ups on the rise in Vilnius. The virtual event and exhibition presented awards across six categories, including a Best Covid-19 Response award for the year that’s in it.
Named Start-up of the Year at the awards ceremony, Qoorio is a ‘social learning network’ that connects people around the world who are willing to share their expertise through one-on-one discussions. All conversations are virtual – an added benefit in pandemic-stricken times – and the app claims to offer access to engaging conversations with more than 2,000 individuals.
Formerly known as HumansApp, Qoorio was founded in 2018 and secured funding of €2m in November 2019 to support its expansion.
Pixevia was named Emerging Technology Start-up of the Year thanks to its achievement in opening a fully automated convenience store in Vilnius in 2019. Visitors to the shop would find no cashiers or physical staff of any kind, just a system using artificial intelligence to automatically detect items taken and charging for them using digital services.
This year, CEO Mindaugas Eglinskas has seen further opportunity for AI-driven smart stores in the context of a global pandemic and, after securing €1m in funding this summer, the company is planning to expand across Europe.
Newcomer of the Year was presented to Ligence, a health-tech start-up developing software to automate analysis of heart ultrasounds, reducing examination time dramatically and increasing overall accuracy.
Founded in 2019, Ligence is particularly proud of its unique, expert-led team. “We are the first start-up in Lithuania to have formed an all-medical team,” said CFO Dovydas Matuliauskas, who also revealed the company’s plans for new innovations. “We have started with cardiology and now we are considering exploring new areas such as oncology, musculoskeletal system diagnostics.”
Best Covid-19 Response winner Mindletic was recognised for its swift response to the pandemic with the launch of a mental health app giving users the opportunity to work through their lockdown anxieties and improve their self-care practices through consultations with certified medical professionals.
Formerly called Act on Crisis, Mindletic took second place in the Hack the Crisis online hackathon with the app idea, which was inspired by the founder Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė’s own experience with anxiety when the pandemic hit.
“Our team managed to develop the prototype that allowed consultations with psychologists in just two weeks. We partnered with the Lithuanian Psychological Association and received support from eight psychologists on the very first weekend of the launch of the app. The initiative took off and now we have 14 psychologists. The interest in the app confirmed that the product is very much needed,” she said.
Now grown out of its start-up phase, Tesonet was celebrated for its contribution to the Vilnius start-up ecosystem as Community Influencer of the Year. The IT services provider started as a duo and now employs more than 1,400 experts. Over many years in operation, the company has become both a creator and investor of more than 30 next-generation digital products.
The Relocation of the Year award, which recognises a notable foreign start-up that moved part of its operations to Vilnius, went to Mambu. The cloud banking platform provider originated in Germany but announced this year that it would establish an engineering centre in Vilnius.
“Vilnius is considered one of the leading financial technology hubs in Europe, and it has a perfect environment for talents to grow,” said Andrius Bagdonavičius, managing director of Mambu’s Vilnius engineering centre.