The European Startup Network (ESN) is calling on entrepreneurs in Europe to support Ukrainian tech founders by offering safe harbour.
So far, chapters in Bulgaria, Spain, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy and Portugal have made pledges of solidarity and offered a range of help.
The ESN issued its appeal on 24 February, the same day that Russia invaded Ukraine, saying: “Ukraine is a part of Europe and just became a conflict zone. […] In our field, we know that many Ukrainian entrepreneurs are now looking for safer places to continue their projects. […] The European Startup Network wants to provide solutions and is calling all startup ecosystems to open a friendly door: any Ukrainian founder who would like to find a safe harbor for an innovation project will be welcomed by a member organization of ESN.”
It also called on political leaders across Europe to find “solutions to help the Ukrainian people and create the conditions for peace.”
Luxembourg, which is a member of the European Startup Network, has seen a small number of private initiatives from the startup community, including by Luxembourg Telecom International, which this week will bring around 20 displaced Ukrainians to Luxembourg. A spokesperson for public platform Luxinnovation said that as of yet there were no public initiatives targeting the startup community.
Among the pledges from Europe, in France, Euratechnologies will sponsor visa applications for Ukrainian tech founders and their families and free access to its acceleration programmes for up to 30 startups. Spanish startups are offering free consultancy services for all startups and founders considering moving to Spain. And in Portugal, where some 28,000 Ukrainians live, Beta-i is contacting its Ukrainian startup alumni to offer support, and assistance to any entrepreneur aiming to move its business to the country.
Ukraine has a strong reputation for tech talent. It ranked in the top 30 of the 2020 StartupBlink Ecosystem Ranking for tech startups. According to the country’s official website, the capital of Kyiv is home to over 1,000 startups and, in 2021, it boasted four unicorns in GitLab, Bitfury, Grammarly and people.ai.
Any organisations or institutions looking to offer a helping hand to Ukrainian founders can find out more by emailing [email protected]