There are 150 million startups in the world today with 50 million new startups launching every year. Central and Eastern European startups are increasingly attracting the world’s attention, with estimations showing that startup value has increased 19 times in the last decade and 34 unicorns have been born in the region.
Data from our Digital Future Index shows that as a country’s startup sector grows, the higher it ranks globally for innovation. And innovation is key to fueling economic growth.
„Startups drive innovation and progress across every part of the economy by solving problems or unlocking new ways of working. They drive digital transformation of traditional industries and players and create a virtuous circle of talent development and, consequently, more opportunities for employment. – Alfredo Giannattasio, Regional Marketing and Operations director, Microsoft Multi-Country cluster*. But despite these facts, it is estimated that over 90% of startups go out of business in their first year, as their journey is unpredictable and filled with uncertainty. In order to survive, more than capital and investments, they need the right skills, experienced mentors, networking opportunities, and especially in our region, easier access to global markets and customers”, he said.
The Adriatic region boasts a booming startup scene. Croatia’s Infobip and Rimac lead by example, growing from well-known startups into regional unicorns in 2020 and 2022 respectively. Make IT Easy is a Croatian tech startup whose cloud-based solution mobilityONE was built on the idea that managing daily activities and budgeting can be made easier through connection with vehicles. Croatian startup CircuitMess, already well-known as a hardware company, designs and manufactures educational and fun electronic devices such as STEM learning toys, which are also available in stores across America. In Slovenia, QLECTOR Ltd developed AI-based solutions for manufacturing powered by the QLECTOR LEAP AI Platform and digital twin that empowers planners and team coordinators to co-create optimal plans and maintain lean production, closing the gap between production planning theory and shop floor reality Serbian startup B2Bee’s software platform hosts several integrated applications. Their strategy is to encompass end-to-end needs of wholesalers across sales channels – from receipt to delivery.
The Baltic region is perceived as a home to some of Europe’s biggest startups, with Estonia in the lead. Estonian IT startup CostPocket developed a text recognition application that can digitize paper documents with great accuracy within seconds, enabling companies more efficient use of their time. In Lithuania, isLucid extracts value from meeting transcripts. The software on Microsoft Teams organizes transcripts and makes those sharable, searchable, and integrated with the tasks management solutions preferred by the client organization. AI models predict potential tasks and rephrase spoken language to well-written notes in more than 30 languages. And in Latvia, startup company RoboEatz invented a completely autonomous robotic kitchen system that prepares, cooks, and serves a wide range of dishes. Using the RoboEatz app, customers choose their menu with the possibility to personalize it, including or excluding ingredients based on their food preferences.
In Eastern Europe and Eurasia, Bulgarian startup company Fantasian Ltd developed Fantastic stay software for property managers. Using this software, they oversee their listings across vacation rental platforms and their booking website – all from a single dashboard. In Hungary, startup company EDUardo Business Simulation created an engaging business simulation platform, based on Microsoft technologies. It provides deep educational content in form of interactive case studies and therefore it can be easily integrated into learning projects at corporations, training institutions, and business schools. In Ukraine, a great example of innovation through AI comes from startup company Elai.io. This Ukrainian startup enables customers to use text for generating video content and customized AI videos featuring real humans. Kazakhstan’s startup Uniqa provides users the opportunity to use AI in everyday life. Uniqa collects and analyses data from real conversations 24/7 in real time and then displays them in Power BI reports that help facilitate efficient management decisions.
„The stars of tomorrow are being born today, right here in the region, and we have a unique opportunity to play a key part in helping them grow. Programs like Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub and ISV Success program can help them along this journey. Digital technologies, cloud, AI, big data, modern networks, and the digitization of every experience and business process will provide the keys to delivering economic output and growth.” –Alfredo Giannattasio concluded.
As our recent Digital Futures Index has shown, digitally advanced countries are proven to be greener, wealthier, more innovative, and more competitive. And having a strong and digitally well-developed startup scene is among the key drivers to their success.
Note: Microsoft’s *Multi-Country cluster consists of 25 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia: Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is a platform that supports startups at any stage throughout their journey – thru both technical and business resources, allowing them to launch the idea or product, unleash creativity, access mentorship, tailored content and learning paths and broaden their network. Once enrolled in the program, founders get up to $150k of Microsoft Azure,. significant level of development and productivity tools, LinkedIn benefits, and many other benefits. Founders can get started on the platform in minutes and remove traditional barriers to building a tech company by democratizing historically inaccessible resources, including expert mentorship at no cost.
ISV Success program – Later-stage startups and graduates of our startup programs are welcome to join the ISV Success program, suitable for companies developing their own solutions on Microsoft cloud or willing to migrate to Microsoft cloud and publish the application at Microsoft commercial marketplace. It is 12 months long, free program with extensive list of benefits.