Ukrainian Government Launches National Startup Fund

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Finance Minister Oksana Markarova announced the launch of the Ukrainian Startup Fund at a presentation today in UNIT.City Innovation Park.

The new government fund has a budget of UAH 390 mln  (approx. $15 mln) and will give out grants of $25,000-$75,000 for a period of implementation of up to 24 months.

"This is a tool that follows the example of developed countries. We need public mechanisms that will allow us to support startups transparently and effectively. This tool will allow Ukraine to become strong," Groysman said.

The prime minister hopes that the Fund's budget will increase to UAH 4 bln. To reach this goal, they are actively seeking co-financing from donors and investors.

USF Supervisory BoardFinance Minister Markarova explained that the idea for the Fund came from other European countries, which have innovation agencies that support startups. In neighboring Poland, for example, the National Center for Research and Development (NCRD) has a budget 820 mln euros.

"Why is innovation important? As many countries have shown, innovation accelerates economic transformation and leads to productivity growth, increased export and investment,"  Markarova said.

To ensure that all the allocated money goes to projects, the Fund itself will not have any administrative staff and all decisions will be made by the supervisory board. Its current members are: Lenna Koszarny (Horizon Capital), Lesia Sevruk (ECG), Viktoriya Tigipko (TA Ventures), Charles K. Whitehead (Cornell Tech), Yuriy Heletiy (Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine) Oleksandr Ryzhenko (State Agency for E-Governance of Ukraine), Dmytro Shymkiv (Darnytsia). The winners will be selected by a contest committee and expert panel.

Initially the Fund will only give out grants, but in the future they expect to provide credit on preferential terms to successful projects.