• X-Europe

Startup Ecosystem Toolkit 2.0 | The Baltics

Last year X-Europe published three ecosystem toolkits; this is an updated version to reflect the changes undergone in 2021. As mentioned in the first version of the ecosystem toolkit, the Baltic region is often praised for its booming startup ecosystem, which contains outstanding, ambitious, and multilingual tech talent. This status continued to be the case through the end of 2021, with the overall number of startups growing by more than 300 and all three Baltic countries putting up their highest startup investment numbers ever. There’s a lot of excitement within the ecosystem and the future looks bright; however, the startups do still encounter some challenges, as startups do in most regions. In the following few pages, we look at the state of the Baltic startup ecosystem in early 2022, including its strengths, weaknesses, and outlook for the future.

NB! Before you continue reading, please note that there are many similar reports regarding specific countries and/or regions published every year. One thing that these reports have in common is that the numbers presented always differ. We have indicated all our information sources to keep it as transparent as possible. If you feel that your country/ecosystem has been misrepresented, please, let us know by writing to info@xeurope.eu and we'll make sure to adjust the information for everyone's benefit.


💶 Society & Economy 🚀 Startup Ecosystem

🌱 Accelerator Highlights

💰 VC Fund Highlights

🤝 The Biggest Deals in 2020/2021

🎤 Main Startup Events

💡 Ecosystem Player Insights

💼 Conclusions


Out of all X-Europe's focus regions, the Baltics is the smallest both in terms of population and GDP per capita. The region is home to just over 6 million people, with almost half of them living in Lithuania. The population decreased dramatically during the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which forced large masses of people to emigrate to other, mostly western-European countries in search of work. Since the publication of the last version of the ecosystem toolkit, both Estonia and Lithuania have shown slight improvement in their demographics. In contrast, Latvia is still seeing a drain of several thousand (at present, the cause of this is not yet pinpointed).

Since the end of 2021, all three countries have improved their GDP per capita by several thousand Euros. As identified in the last Toolkit, Estonia still outperforms its two Baltic neighbors, reaching a GDP per capita of 27,740 EUR - more than a 6,000 EUR increase from 2020. Similarly, Latvia and Lithuania increased their GDP per capita by approximately 3000 EUR each. Nevertheless, all three Baltic countries are keeping pace with or even outperforming the majority of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries and have managed to rank in the top 50 countries when it comes to the human development index, with Estonia being ranked the highest as the 29th country on the list. Despite showing tremendous economic growth or the last few years, the Baltic countries still have a long road ahead before they can catch up with the larger Northern and Western European economies.


Besides scoring well in the standard of living, the Baltics also score well in terms of innovation. Stable political environments, high-quality education, ever-evolving infrastructure, and business sophistication have allowed all the Baltic countries to land in the top 40 in the Innovation Global Rank (GII). Yet again, Estonia is in the forefront, being ranked #25, while Latvian and Lithuania are neck-and-neck at #36 and #40 respectively.

Estonia's dominance continues to show also when looking at various entrepreneurial rankings. It ranks the highest out of the Baltic countries in terms of entrepreneurship, the ease of starting a business, and the percentage of GDP used to finance research and development. The ease of starting and doing business are the areas where the Baltics shine the most in terms of entrepreneurship. All three countries are ranked in the top 35 for the ease of starting a business and the top 20 for the ease of doing business rankings. Estonia is the first country in the world to introduce e-residency along with other e-solutions which facilitates the ease of starting a business, especially for people moving to Estonia from abroad. The process of starting a business is a bit more complicated in Latvia and Lithuania, but once you are up and running, doing business is relatively easy and often much more manageable than in many Central and Western European countries.

The Baltics have a very dynamic and constantly changing startup ecosystem, which results in large numbers of startups being registered. This is facilitated by many opportunities to attract early-stage funding and support both from the government; EU funds; and local incubators, accelerators, business angels, and VC funds. In accordance with the data available on Crunchbase, F6S, and Startupblink, there are 12 incubators in the Baltics, with ⅔ being located in Estonia. In reality, the number of incubators is higher; however, low availability of up-to-date data prevents us from precisely measuring this aspect of the ecosystem. We are more than sure that new incubators were born during 2021, but unfortunately, information is scarce. Still, most of the incubators support their startups with a desks at a coworking space, mentoring, and minor financial aid to help the startups get their business off the ground.

Baltic startups are presented with even more opportunities when it comes to acceleration. There are 29 accelerators across the Baltics offering diverse programmes. Often, these are available to startups from all three Baltic countries or even in the wider CEE region. Similarly, startups have vast opportunities for attracting pre-seed, seed, and late-seed investments due to the substantial number of easily accessible business angels and VC funds.


The activities of business angels in the Baltics is mostly managed by national business angel networks - EstBAN, LitBAN, and LatBAN. In 2021, both EstBAN and LitBAN demonstrated tremendous growth with both angel networks, adding more than 100 members each. EstBAN, the oldest of the three BANs, is still the largest network with 242 members. LitBAN stands second with 221 members. It is to be expected that LitBAN will soon overtake Estonia – an especially impressive accomplishment, considering that the angel network was established just 3 years ago. LatBAN has not disclosed precise membership numbers lately, but it is confirmed to be above 50 and has seen at least some growth in 2021. In addition to business angels, startups have access to the 47 Baltic VC funds, most of which are located in Estonia (23) and Latvia (16). Some of the VC funds describe themselves as pan-Baltic. Thanks to the small ecosystem and large variety of business angels and VC funds, it is relatively easy to attract early-stage funding; however, when it comes to Series A, B, and C fundings, the startups must look outside the Baltics to satisfy the financial needs required for further growth and development.

The first time we checked in with the Baltic startup ecosystem, it boasted 2,577 startups. Just a year later, the number has grown by more than 400 startups and might even exceed 3,000 (Latvia are currently in the process of obtaining a more precise number to represent their ecosystem). Nevertheless, most of the startups are in Estonia, with Lithuania being a close second. Latvia lags behind both countries, having less than half of either of its neighbours. In 2021, all three countries set records for startup funding. Notably, in 2021, Latvia gained its first unicorn in Prinful, a print-on-demand startup. At the time of the writing, Veriff (EE) became Estonia’s 6th (or 9th, there are various options to how they are counted) unicorn, while Lithuania has Vinted.


Not surprisingly, the capital cities of all Baltic countries are the hotspots with the most startup activity. However, there are also smaller hubs in other Baltic cities. For example, Tartu is a very vibrant startup city thanks to the startup-friendly environment powered by its local government and the University of Tartu.

With 29 accelerators in total, Baltic startups have plenty of opportunities to obtain mentoring and pre-seed and seed funding of up to 400,000 EUR. Below, we’ve handpicked 9 of the most active Baltic accelerators and described their focus areas and key benefits offered to the startups in their portfolios. While the main players remain the same as in 2020 and the benefits haven’t really changed, all the accelerators have grown their portfolios.

Overkill Ventures (LV) Focus: B2B startups in CEE and Nordics Portfolio: 30 Benefits: The accelerator has concluded active investments and is currently passive.

Buildit Accelerator (LV) Focus: Hardware, IoT, mobility, productivity, smart living, energy, health-tech startups Portfolio: 33 Benefits: Pre-seed investment up to 50,000 EUR, seed investment up to 250,000 EUR Commercialization Reactor (LV) Focus: Early stage deeptech startups Portfolio: 46 Benefits: Up to 50,000 EUR acceleration and up to 250,000 EUR follow up investment. Startup Wise Guys (Pan-Baltic) Focus: B2B, cybersecurity startups Portfolio: 275 Most recent investments: 55,000 € investment for 9% equity with a follow-on possibility Superangel (EE) Focus: Early-stage startups Portfolio: 45 Benefits: Initial investment and knowledge in customer and business development, hiring, sales & marketing, and product development. Baltic Sandbox (LT) Focus: Early-stage Eastern European FinTech, Saas, and deeptech startups Portfolio: 9+ Benefits: Up to 200,000 USD investment. 70ventures (LT) Focus: Baltic B2B and Marketplace companies that can scale globally. Portfolio: 51 Benefits: Up to 400,000 EUR milestone-based financing and B2B acceleration StartupHighway (LT) Focus: Innovative early-stage technology startups Portfolio: 13 Benefits: €25,000 in seed funding FOR 7.5% equity stake


Source: Crunchbase, F6S & Startupblink

The Baltics is the home of 47 VC funds across the three countries. Most of the VC funds primarily focus on startups based in the Baltics and CEE and provide pre-seed, seed, and/or late-seed investments. To demonstrate some of the activity carried out by the VC funds in the Baltics, we’ve summarised a selection of 9 VC funds below that have been the most active in the ecosystem in 2019 and 2020.


ZGI Capital (LV) Focus: Late-Seed Portfolio: 29 Most recent investments: eAgronom (EE), GoWood (LV) Change Ventures (Pan-Baltic) Focus: Pre-Seed, Seed Portfolio: 24 Most recent investments: Planet42 (ZA), Gelatex (EE), Printify (LV), Memby (LT), KWOTA (EE)

Startup Wise Guys (Pan-Baltic) Focus: Pre-Seed, Seed Portfolio: 275 Most recent investments: S.Lab (UA), CENOS (LV), CENOS (LV), Workee (UA), Finmap (UA) Practica Capital (LT) Focus: Seed, Late-Seed Portfolio: 45+ Most recent investments: Favro (SE), PVcase (LT), Ovoko (LT)

Coinvest Capital (LT) Focus: Pre-Seed, Seed Portfolio: 20 Most recent investments: Rubedos (LT), Discontract (LT), Cogastro (LT) Lemonade Stand (EE) Focus: Pre-Seed, Seed Portfolio: 34 Most recent investments: Grünfin (EE), Remato (EE), Outvio (EE) Iron Wolf Capital (LT) Focus: Seed, Late-Seed Portfolio: 10+ Most recent investments: EyeVi Technologies (EE), eAgronom (EE), Turing College (US) Specialist VC (EE) Focus: Pre-Seed, Seed Portfolio: 36 Most recent investments: CybExer Technologies (EE), eAgronom (EE), FoodDocs (EE) Trind Ventures (EE) Focus: Pre-Seed, Seed, Late-Seed Portfolio: 35 Most recent investments: eAgronom (EE), Fractory (EE), Sonarworks (LV)


Source: Crunchbase, Dealroom


The Biggest Deals In 2020/2021

Startup ecosystems are often only as strong as their strongest startups. One of the fastest ways for ecosystems to grow is for the startups who reach success early to reinvest back into the ecosystem, starting a snowball effect. A good example of such practice is the early success of the Estonian company Skype, which created the first wave of new startups being created and boosted the Estonian startup ecosystem. As shown below, all Baltic countries exceeded their previous funding records several times in 2021. Below, we look at some of the larger deals of the year to see which companies have benefited most from the ecosystem and might become benefactors themselves in the future.

In all three countries, the majority share of all the funding was attracted by their respective unicorns – Bolt, Vinted, and Printful. There were many more sizeable Series A and B rounds compared to 2020.


Determining a region’s most important startup events is not always easy, as bigger is not always better. Below we have tried to list some of the main events in the Baltic startup ecosystem in no particular order. Some are bigger than others in terms of attendees, but all are important in bringing the ecosystem players closer together. As Covid-19 has been slowing down, many physical events returned in 2021 and we expect even more to do so in 2022.

TechChill (LV)

“TechChill celebrates the best of the Baltic startup community by annually bringing together 2000+ attendees, including the fastest-growing startups, most innovative corporations, investors active in the region, and talented tech enthusiasts. TechChill is organized by a non-profit foundation of the same name, empowering the Baltic startup ecosystem throughout the year.”


LOGIN Festival (LT)

“The largest, richest in content, and probably the boldest innovation gathering in the Baltics. We name it a festival as we attract quite a crowd – 6,000 game changers, forward thinkers, tech-savvy innovators, and people thirsty for knowledge. Lots of ways to call YOU.”


Startup Fair (LT)

“Startup Fair is an annual and the main international startup ecosystem event in Lithuania organized by Startup Lithuania - the national startup ecosystem facilitator.”


sTARTUp Day (EE)

“sTARTUp Day is the biggest festival in the Baltics, bringing together startups, traditional entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and students. The aim of the event is to connect startup-minded people and celebrate entrepreneurship in the smart city of Tartu.”


Latitude59 (EE)

“Latitude59 is the cosy spring gathering for people serious about startups, investing, and the future of governance.”

So far, we have painted a data-based picture of the Baltic region’s overall economic situation and the size and activities of the related startup ecosystems. However, numbers alone don't embody the entire spirit of an ecosystem. Therefore, we approached ecosystem representatives in all three Baltic countries to give their opinion on the ecosystems’ strengths and challenges that the ecosystem should focus on tackling in the next 3 to 5 years. The following information allows us to better understand the needs of the region and assess how the X-Europe programme and its services can contribute to progress in the right direction.


Andris K. Berzins | Managing Partner at Change Ventures | LinkedIn

2021

On strengths: “Baltic startups are born-global with strong technical talent and more hustle than their Western European counterparts.”


On challenges: “Talent is the top challenge like everywhere, but especially hard for the startups that achieve some significant scale and require more experienced talent. What we see is that the best startups are, however, becoming increasingly successful in importing top talent from elsewhere that relocates to the Baltic States to work for exciting teams.”


2022 update

On progress during 2021: “Talent is still a challenge to find, like everywhere in the world. But we do see increasing signs that talented Baltic diaspora members are returning home and that the recruitment of senior expatriates is also possible.”

On deeptech: “The DeepTech ecosystem in the region is strong in several specific areas, including robotics and AI, where success stories such as Starship Technologies, Pactum, Giraffe360 and others are leading the way for the next generation.”

 

Gytenis Galkis | Partner at 70ventures, Founder and Member of the Board of LitBAN | LinkedIn

2021

On strengths:I believe that the greatest strength of the Baltic startup ecosystem is its community, accessibility and most importantly ambitious talent that has a huge desire to outcompete.”


On challenges: “Observing the current startup ecosystem, I strongly believe that people from the Baltics are excellent in building the highest quality product and service. However, we are still a long way behind the US talent in terms of sales and advertising knowledge. If during the next 3-5 years we will improve it, the Baltic startups will become unbeatable. Other than that, I’d really like to see more talent from foreign countries coming to Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn. I know our weather is not the best, but our cities are amazing.”

 

Aiga Kalbjonoka | Startup Partnership Manager at Httpool | LinkedIn

2021

On strengths: “Baltic startups ecosystem's greatest strengths are: First of all, access to the capital, pre-seed and seed investment and availability to EU funding. Secondly, in a small country, it is way easier to meet the right person for the right purposes. For the same reason, we have great relationships with the government. Thus we can work on legislation and e-services. Thirdly, the snowball effect. Examples of the success stories (unicorns and companies that have had exits). Successful companies as inspiration to others. Co-founders of those companies are the investors to the next generation startups.”


On challenges: “1. Collaboration. We still need to learn how to collaborate to reach common goals for the startup ecosystem.

2. Access to talents. We need to work on the education system. We also need to work on keeping talents in our region and attracting them from abroad.

3. Access to the growth-stage investment. We need to keep building bridges to series A, B, C funds that our fast-growing startups can access funding and scale even faster.”

 

Diana Lace-Davidova | Venture Partner at Superangel | LinkedIn

2021

On strengths: “1) Connectivity and network. Everyone (from VCs to the President of the country) is available via 1-2 handshakes.

2) technical capabilities and skilled workforce (strong historical technical education, numerous languages spoken, etc.)

3) World-class infrastructure (high-speed internet, airport).”


On challenges: 1) shortage of workforce for high-growth companies - need to tailor legislation to welcome talents from all over the world

2) unification of the ecosystem and common goals, common strategy for the country.”

 

Roberta Rudokiene | Head of Startup Lithuania | LinkedIn

2021

On strengths: “Definitely – the talents, people who have good background, IT skills, innovative visions and desire to create disruptive technologies. As we’re very small markets, our startup founders think global from the beginning.”


On challenges: “Main challenge for the ecosystem – to attract the attention of foreign investors, to show that despite the small size Lithuania has a really strong tech ecosystem with global startups.”

 

Dag Ainsoo | Partner at Startup Wise Guys | LinkedIn

2021

On strengths: “First, it has a unique geographical location between CEE and Nordics and other West Europe, which enables access to a vast technical talent pool and is like a bridge to economically strong countries in the West. We are able to culturally fit with both sides (which is the premise SWG is also built on, we are helping strong technical founders from the CEE to connect with EU markets, VCs, mentality, and mindset). We speak both languages. Secondly, these are small closed kit communities where everyone is one connection away. Also, people are very adaptive to change and open-minded to try new things. Historically we are coming from the Soviet Union, so we had to innovate a lot to catch up with the rest of the EU and that meant that we implemented many technologically advanced solutions much faster than our Western counterparts. Thirdly, people are still hungry and willing to take risks as we have still to catch up to the leading nations. This makes us work harder. Fourth, we have very strong role models, founders of now 6 unicorns have shown that it's possible to grow large international companies from these small countries, which creates more and more founders who are trying and succeeding. Also, all founders who have been successful are contributing back to the ecosystem by mentoring, starting new companies, and making new investments. For example, recent Pipedrive exit created 40-50 new angel investors in Estonia.”


On challenges: “One of the main challenges is immigration. We need to make sure that we can continue to grow and attract new talent from other countries. So we need to make sure that our immigration policies, startup visa systems, and all support is in place. This has been a struggle, also there has been opposition from citizens, which means a lot of people don't really want to come here. This has to change. Also, we need to simplify our legal systems, especially in Latvia and Lithuania, so it's easier and faster to establish companies here, we need to have much less bureaucracy. There is still a lot of old school mentality. I think developing a startup ecosystem should be a national priority, at the moment it has not been seen as such and it has mostly developed on its own. Of course, startup visa systems, electronic signatures, and possibility to manage all things electronically (Especially in Estonia), friendly tax systems, etc have been helping, but there is much more than countries can do to support. Unfortunately, most people are still thinking that farming, forestry, and heavy industry are more important and there is not enough focus on the smart tech economy that will be the future. We need to make sure that we get enough smart people building new things, all the rest will follow.”


2022 update

On progress during 2021: “I think on the positive side we have kept growing and the inflow of talent has increased. I dont have an exact number but I see more and more foreign founders in the Baltics, and also team members that come here to join other startups. Of course we at Startup Wise Guys have done a lot of work in this area and brought a lot of new talent here from other countries. And this has even happened during Covid and in the trend towards remote work. I think the change in Estonian government also has helped. But some challenges remain - its now even harder to get a bank account for example, especially if you are managing the company remotely. I hear most entrepreneurs complaining about this. Maybe I am on optimist but I haven't seen anything really getting worse. I even see the overall mentality in the society changing towards tech industry, more and more people see that this is the future.”


On deeptech: “Deeptech ecosystem is something that takes decades to build. Deeptech startups are more complicated, it takes more time and resources to develop the products, there needs to be lot of specialized knowhow, investors who understand how it works and who can really help the entrepreneurs. It all takes time. This is a gradual process. I think we have come a long way here in the region, and we see more and more serious deep tech startups popping up. Estonia has been well known for Cybersecurity, we also see increasing number of hardware, cleantech startups, which we did not see a few years ago. There is lot of innovation coming from Universities as well, and governments are pushing deep tech investments by launching new funds, so I believe that in the next decade we will see exponential development in deeptech in the region.”

 

Practica Capital | LinkedIn

2021

On strengths: “Although the total population of the Baltic states is just around 6m, the talent pool is still one of our greatest strengths – it is skilled, professional, ambitious, and hungry for success. That commitment and hunger are what sets our founders apart. Home markets are small, so they have to think globally right from the start. As investors, we are not just looking for ideas we look for execution and entrepreneurs who dream big. It requires true grit from founders turning ideas into businesses. And that is what the Baltic startup ecosystem can offer. Of course, our ecosystem is still young, with a first-time founder generation, and it has its limitations, but we are on a fast-track learning curve of getting that much-needed experience. And despite all the limitations, it is still relatively easy and cost-effective to hire talent in the Baltics, one reason being that there aren’t many established local powerhouses (think Siemens, BMW, Microsoft, etc.) to lock-in engineering talent with 6-digit salaries.


Another factor we have to highlight is the national support on various levels that the Baltic ecosystem has. Governments and regulatory institutions are willing to collaborate, adapt to a fast-changing environment, and create a more favorable regulatory environment for the ecosystem to flourish. A great example, how Lithuania became one of Europe’s most exciting fintech hotspots. Lithuania’s fintech-focused policies were the answer to an already extremely active fintech community. It shows that all stakeholders can identify opportunities, understand the importance and can act fast to make much-needed changes.”

On challenges: “As some of the challenges we will have to face in the upcoming years, we have to consider various limitations that come from the Baltic market being relatively small. We have already noticed that we often lack specific know-how within the talent market. It can be challenging to find advanced specialists in some specific areas, for example, specialized sales operations, high-scale product deployments, marketing-at-scale, etc. While the region has highly-motivated and well-educated people, they often lack the relevant know-how to drive businesses to world-class enterprises. More experienced professionals on a senior level are needed. And the same goes for VC funds and investors. There are still not enough experienced early-stage VC professionals, lawyers, IP lawyers, M&A consultants, advisers, etc.

When it comes to fundraising and investments, we can still see that local fund managers struggle to fundraise bigger funds. It‘s just too small of a market to host a bigger VC fund, thus startups looking for funding beyond Series A have to raise it internationally. Simply, you cannot invest, for example, 10% of a total fund size in seed-stage in one deal in the Baltics. That is one of the challenges we have to face if we want to compete on a broader scale.

We also still have a low number of success stories and more notable exits. In general, the exit market is quite shallow in the region. And it’s all relative. Our ecosystem is still young and developing. As an early-stage investor, we have to bring startups to a level where bigger funds can join in, and just be patient with it. But still, we need more Series A and later investment rounds happening here locally, so that gap would be diminished and startups could grow faster.”

 

Liisi Org | CEO at Latitude59 | LinkedIn

2021

On strengths: “Estonian startup ecosystem has many strengths, but the most important ones are that we have a very tight and collaborative community with a giving-back mentality. Our successful startups from Skype to Pipedrive are investing back in the community. Estonia has a very simple business environment, an e-residency programme, and a successful startup-visa programme. We are a digital country and you can do 99% of the government services online. We have a strong support network including over 100 startup support organizations.”


On challenges: “Our main focuses for the next 7 years are local-global interactions mindset, growth, diversification, and open data use. We will be enabling a forward-looking startup ecosystem, including regional hubs and we’ll be promoting an entrepreneurship and startup mindset in science and R&D, and supporting the growth of scaleup. We’ll work towards ensuring a diverse and competitive startup ecosystem through greater diversity in gender, age, and cultural or geographic background and we’re planning to Implement Open data-driven steering and foresight for the Startup Ecosystem.”


The Baltics is a very interesting region. Though it’s the smallest out of X-Europe's focus regions, with just a little over 6 million people, the region is home to the amazing number of almost 3000 startups. Moreover, the Baltics are a great place for early-stage startups with so many accelerators and local VC funds providing pre-seed and seed investments. Furthermore, various government initiatives have made the Baltics a very attractive destination for business to land in. The three small Baltic countries are some of the best in the world when it comes to the ease of starting and doing business, which are also some of the criteria in which the Baltics outperforms the much larger Benelux and Visegrad regions. The region hosts vibrant startup and tech events, with several strong events being held in each of the countries. Finally, the cost of living in the region is very low, especially compared to other regions to the west.

Most ecosystem players agree that one of the region’s main strengths is the strong technical talent and hustle demonstrated by the people in the ecosystem. As the Baltics is a very small market, the startups born here are forced to have a global mindset from day one if they truly want to be successful and make a mark. As mentioned before, starting a business here is relatively easy and it is made even easier by various national government initiatives and the wide access to pre-seed and seed investments in the region. While being small has its challenges, it also has its perks. Most people have heard about the “six degrees of separation”, but in the Baltic startup ecosystem most people are just one connection away. This makes access to knowledge and early-stage investments easier than in other regions. Moreover, the region is showing a strong mentality of giving back. For example, the exit of Estonian startup Pipedrive created around 40 new business angels ready to invest in the next potential success stories. Lastly, the region can be proud of its well-developed infrastructure. All the Baltic countries rank very high in terms of internet speed and for such a small region the local airports are very well connected to all main hubs in the world.

Despite the many strengths demonstrated by the Baltics, the region still faces a lot of challenges as well. Most ecosystem players in the region agree that the main challenge is talent acquisition. Smaller startups often lack specific know-how and struggle to attract talent from abroad. Furthermore, while the startups in the Baltics are very strong at building high-quality products and services, they struggle in comparison to their Western counterparts when it comes to sales and advertising. Similarly, while the region provides a lot of opportunities for attracting early-stage investments, the market is just too small to provide growth stage investment locally; thus, the startups have a great need to be connected to foreign investors. Finally, the Baltic startup ecosystem is very strong, still it could be more unified and work on further collaboration to strengthen the ties among the countries more.

While a 2-year programme such as X-Europe cannot solve these problems alone, it can definitely aid Baltic startups to tackle several of the pain points. X-Europe's provided talent matchmaking has the potential to help Baltic startups with attracting talent and know-how from abroad. Similarly, Growth Tribe's training can help the startups to improve their sales and marketing strategies, thus, boosting the startups’ capacity for growth. Finally, investor matchmaking is one of X-Europe's key. The programme has already managed to attract VC funds from a vast number of countries with focus on various stage investments. Moreover, the X-Europe programme's startups gain access to some of the top startup tech conferences in Europe, which have always been target events of the leading VC funds in Europe; therefore, creating even more opportunities for startups to forge new connections with potential investors. Thus, the program opens doors for these investors to be introduced to the vibrant Baltic startups ecosystem and likewise gives Baltic startups investment leads which could help them land their Series A investments and beyond. In fact, the region saw a lot more series A and B funding rounds in 2021 than ever before.


To sum up, the Baltics is a very business-friendly region and has an ambitious and globally minded startup ecosystem that is rapidly growing, yet still trying to catch up to the larger Western economies. X-Europe has the potential to have a small input in aiding the ecosystem in that direction; however, the main burden of dealing with these challenges will still lay on the shoulders of the local governments and ecosystem players. Nevertheless, the region has limitless potential and is expected to continue its rapid growth in the future.

 

Data sources: Population | Eurostat

GDP per Capita | International Monetary Fund

Human Development Index | International Monetary Fund

Innovation Global Rank | Global Innovation Index

Entrepreneurship Global Rank | Global Entrepreneurship Index

Ease of Doing Business Rank | Doing Business

Ease of Starting a Business Rank | Doing Business

Research and Development (% of GDP) | World Bank

Startup Funding | Dealroom

Number of incubators | Crunchbase, F6S, StartupBlink,

Number of Accelerators | Crunchbase, F6S, StartupBlink,

Most Active Accelerators | Crunchbase

Number of Active VCs | Crunchbase

Most Active VC funds | Crunchbase

Number of Business Angels | Angellist, LatBAN, LitBAN, EstBAN

Number of Startups | Crunchbase, StartupBlink, National Startup Governance institutions

Main Startup Cities | StartupBlink

Biggest Deals on 2020/2021 | Crunchbase, Dealroom

Main startup events | Crunchbase, Dealroom

 

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