5 Central Eurasian startup ecosystems improved their parameters

24 July, 2022


The StartupBlink think tank has released the Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2022. Since 2017 the project has been reviewing the state of the startup economy, describing their growth dynamics and main trends.

This year's report assesses the startup ecosystems of 1,000 cities and 100 countries. Among the countries of the Central Eurasia region, 9 startup ecosystems are represented in the report: Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan. However, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are not yet included in the world's top 100 ecosystems. We have reviewed the report and prepared a snapshot of those countries in our region that have improved their parameters. 

Kyrgyzstan – 100th place

This year Kyrgyzstan was included in the global ranking for the first time. According to the authors, Kyrgyzstan's startup ecosystem shows significant potential: Kyrgyzstan is strategically positioned to access both the Eurasian Economic Union market and China's One Belt, One Road initiative.

The State Intellectual Property and Innovation Service plays a leading role in state support for innovation, as well as the PEAK Business Innovation Centres, Accelerate Prosperity Business Accelerator, John Galtbusiness Incubator, KG LABS Acceleration Programme and High Tech Park.

Among successful startups in Kyrgyzstan are Mashina.kg, a platform for placing car ads; Bookit, a website for getting cheap airline tickets; and marketing platform Growave. 

Azerbaijan – 85th place

Azerbaijan has moved up by 4 positions compared to the previous report. The success was made possible thanks to steps taken by the government. The State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovation (ASAN) began working with the Asian Development Bank in 2021, and ASAN is developing the Skills for the Future project with universities in the country. The public sector has also created an incubator, accelerator and research centre INNOLAND, a high-tech park and the Azerbaijan 500 ASAN Startup Program for aspiring entrepreneurs.  

The report's authors note that the private sector is also helping the ecosystem grow, with the NEXT STEP Innovation Centre and SUP VC supplementing the need for funding, networking and accelerators.

The most successful startups in Azerbaijan are Owbike, a scalable cloud-based website creation system; Botbox, which helps automate marketing; and Nextsale, a software application that personalizes messaging. 

Kazakhstan – 74th place

Kazakhstan has maintained the positive momentum from last year, moving up two places to 74th in the world. Kazakhstan's startup ecosystem is still in the early stages of development. The country's economy is largely driven by the oil and gas industry, and the country is looking to transition to a digital, knowledge-based economy.

In 2018, the government invested in Nur-Sultan to help develop the city into a financial hub, and the Astana Hub IT startup technology park was established. Nazarbayev University has also created the Innovation Cluster (NURIS), which offers resources, training and investment for high-tech.

Notable startups and ecosystem champions include HR Messenger, a project that automates the recruitment funnel, HR platform Clockster and online marketplace SuperFroot.

Georgia – 73rd place 

Over the year the country's ranking improved by 7 positions up to 73rd place. The authors of the report note that Georgia is a model of open and transparent economy in Central Asia. The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development focuses on supporting the development of the startup ecosystem, especially through its division, the Georgia Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA). The Startup Georgia programme is also an example of an organisation promoting a local ecosystem.

There are several business support platforms and organisations: for example, the Spark platform, the Startup Factory at the University of Georgia, the Batumi Business Incubator and Startup Grind Tbilisi. In addition, there is a branch of the international online incubator and accelerator FasterCapital, and the 500 Startups accelerator programme, which was launched with the support of the World Bank.

The report notes that Georgia is becoming increasingly popular with expats and digital nomads, which will add to its knowledge base and talent pool in the future. Georgia's big startups include crypto-biometric network Humanode, e-commerce platform for all online payments PAYZE and gaming platform BitSport. 

Armenia – 60th place

Armenia moved up five places to rank 60th in the world ranking. Armenia's technology sector was booming in 2021, with new investments contributing to growth. The country's first unicorn, photo and video editing app PicsArt, recently reached a valuation of $1bn.

A strong and successful Armenian diaspora also supports the Armenian economy, and several successful Armenian-American entrepreneurs, such as Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, are working to develop a local startup ecosystem.

Armenian startups have focused on the global market from the start, due to the small size of the country's market. The Armenian government is doing a lot of work to support tech startups, including tax incentives. To support foreign investment, Armenia has created free economic zones and full property rights, as well as other incentives under the Law on Foreign Investment. 

In addition to PicsArt, which has become a unicorn, the report notes learning platform SoloLearn, as well as Zangi, an application for encrypted messaging, voice and video calls

Thus, among the 9 countries in Central Eurasia represented in the ranking, only 5 showed growth in their startup ecosystems. The Startup Central Eurasia platform is now working on its own ranking, which will cover all the countries in our region and will present a more detailed and in-depth analysis of the factors that influence their development. 

Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2022 


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