A €500M revenue-generating technology area that helps protect our planet: Lithuanians are among region leaders
Green or planet-friendly technologies are increasingly attracting the attention of both entrepreneurs and citizens. Many have already used the services of Vinted, one of the major startups of the country, or car-sharing apps to drive an electric car the required distance. Meanwhile, private house owners are increasingly choosing to install solar power plants on the roof of their homes. Startups founded in Lithuania are contributing to the growth of all these technologies. According to Sunrise Tech Park, there are at least 60 registered green technology companies in Vilnius, which employ more than 2 200 people. Last year, these startups generated a turnover of almost EUR 500 million.
Offering a variety of solutions
Among the hundreds of high-tech companies operating in Vilnius, there are also those that are developing products for the preservation of our planet. These include charging stations for electric cars, software for designing solar power plants, electric buses or an online platform for selling used car parts. Companies such as Vinted, PVCase or Ovoko not only attract young professionals, but also create additional benefits for the state. According to Laima Balčiūnė, director of the Sunrise Tech Park, Lithuanian businesses offer a variety of solutions.
“We count about 60 cleantech companies in Lithuania, hence a wide range of solutions. In the transport sector, we have initiatives ranging from electric car battery manufacturers to an autonomous water catamaran. In the green energy sector, we also have solutions ranging from designing solar power plants to special energy accumulation and storage devices. In the resources sector, we have companies that offer sustainable everyday solutions for society or focus on cleaning up certain contaminated sites using innovative and sustainable methods. And these are just a few examples of the ways in which a positive impact is being made on the environment, the economy and society,” the expert notes.
Lithuania in the catching-up role
According to the expert, although Lithuanian cleantech businesses are well-known and recognised worldwide, we are still lagging behind Western Europe in this area compared to other countries.
“When comparing Lithuania to the major European countries, we are in the catching-up role. However, we also have to take into account the difference in market size, the focus of venture capital and many other details. In terms of raising investment in the cleantech sector, Lithuania is well behind the leading Germany, France, the Netherlands or Sweden, but ahead of Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy and Greece. So we are not among the leaders and we still have a lot of work to do to catch up with the European Union averages.
One aspect that could lead to a breakthrough in this area is the focus of policy-makers at national level. Support for startups in this particular field is highly important, as we have identified climate innovation as our – and Europe’s – first priority, after the geopolitical situation. However, we have good prospects to become region leaders in renewable energy, hydrogen innovation and electric transport,” L. Balčiūnė points out.
The number of startups in some fields in Lithuania exceeds the number of young businesses in some Western countries. This can be explained by the necessary infrastructure and the high level of technological literacy of employees. However, the expert also identifies several other important aspects.
“Lithuania has an extremely favourable environment for the creation of young businesses in any field – both in terms of access to business services, infrastructure, financing instruments and the quality of life. It is worth mentioning the market for private equity and venture capital investors. We have 6 venture capital funds operating in Vilnius, investing between EUR 200 000 and EUR 2 million in selected promising startups. There is also a very active network of business angels in Vilnius, who regularly invest in early-stage startups.
Cleantech startups operating in the capital also have the opportunity to participate in various projects and programmes, where they can receive advice and support from specialists in various fields (innovation, prototyping, intellectual property, legal advice, etc.). Moreover, the first cleantech incubator-accelerator will be opened in Sunrise Tech Park in the first half of next year,” L. Balčiūnė shares her thoughts about the growth of Lithuanian startups.
A company excellerating renewable energy development
Founded in 2018 in Vilnius, PVCase has already attracted many investors around the world. The startup, which develops add-ons for Autocad and other software tools, has already received a EUR 100 million investment from abroad and was nominated for the cleantech category of the Vilnius TechFusion Startup Awards this year. According to Lindsay Vick, the representative of the company, this has only boosted the growth of the company and its desire to continue heading in the same direction.
“Our company currently has 1 200 customers from almost 80 countries around the world. And although it sounds absurd, we have no direct competitors. In our industry, we often hear that people have used PVCase files during the lifecycle of their projects even if they aren’t direct users. Our designs have become an industry standard and other products are needed in the early stages of development,” notes the representative of PVCase.
However, developing software for renewable energy can be challenging. One of them is the shortage of experienced workforce. “Although the renewable energy sector is currently seeing a huge upswing (the number of installed solar projects worldwide is expected to quadruple by 2029), there is still not enough workforce available in the world to cover this sector. Discovering experienced professionals is a huge challenge, but we have managed to build a team that we are proud of. We recruit not only locally, but also remotely, which allows us to choose from a global workforce. We have centres that recruit in Lithuania, the US and Spain,” the PVCase representative points out.
Awards for the best in green energy
For the fifth year in a row, the leaders, businesses and high-tech companies with the most significant contribution to the growth of the startup ecosystem in Lithuania will be honored at the Vilnius TechFusion Startup Awards ceremony on 11 January 2024. This year, the Awards also focus on cleantech-oriented startups and present the “Tech for Good” nomination. The nominees announced by Vilnius TechFusion this year are:
- Dancer, a company offering electric public transport solutions.
- Inbalance grid, developers of electric vehicle solutions and a network of charging stations.
- Inion, developers of solar power plant monitoring and analysis tools.
- PVCase, a company developing advanced solar power plant design tools.
- Viezo, creators of a generator that converts vibrations into electricity.
Vilnius TechFusion startup awards are organized by Vilnius city tourism and business development agency Go Vilnius, Lithuanian startup association Unicorns Lithuania and Sunrise Tech Park.