Startup Visa: first applicants successfully relocating to Lithuania
Following the Lithuanian Parliaments approval of Startup Visa legislation earlier this year, the first four startups have successfully completed their applications and are set to establish operations in Lithuania soon. The new legislation streamlines the process for gaining temporary residence permits for citizens of non EU/EEA countries who want to run innovative businesses in Lithuania. Thanks to these changes, MUUL and ARTapp from Russia, GoTalent from Ukraine, and Serious Gaming Private Limited from India are already in the process of establishing their businesses in Lithuania.
For Rajat Ojha, CEO of Serious Gaming Private Limited, Lithuania’s startup ecosystem offers an attractive range of benefits. “Lithuania offers an amazing ecosystem and greenfield entry to ramp up operations very quickly,” explains Mr Ojha. “Needless to say, that connectivity with all of Europe is a big plus. The cost of living is very much affordable and there are universities teaching game development. All of these factors combined make it an attractive place to be,” he points out.
And Serious Gaming Private Limited have a clear plan for establishing themselves in Lithuania. “The immediate plan is to understand the dynamics first by meeting fellow game development companies, universities and investors. Right after that, we plan to move there with 4 employees and the rest we will hire locally,” says Mr Ojha.
The new Start Up Visa played a key role in supporting MUUL’s arrival in Lithuania, according to Oleg Kornev, the company’s Creative Director. “After researching the European market of integrated content platforms we found great potential in the Baltic states, especially in Lithuania,” comments Mr Kornev. “Having decided to establish operations, we then need to have the legal status to do so. First we tried the traditional route, but faced misunderstanding from the officials. That was because the core needs of our business requires knowledge of new media, the tech industry and the principles of social media. So, when we learned about the Startup Visa programme we instantly decided to engage. And it was the right decision.”
These new additions to Lithuania’s startup ecosystem each bring with them a different focus. Serious Gaming Private Limited is a VR games company, MUUL develops software solutions for digital media, ARTapp conduct neural-network boosted advanced image analysis, and GoTalent provide an HR platform for hiring talents across the globe. All four of the startups are considered to be “high-impact”, operating in new technologies that will spread innovative ideas whilst creating new jobs in Lithuania.
“We are happy to see the first fruits of the Startup Visa Lithuania programme,” comments Minister of the Economy of Lithuania Mindaugas Sinkevičius. “If in the past there were strict rules and regulations, now Lithuania is much more accessible for innovative business. We want to further encourage this trend and continue to increase the number of startups and talents in Lithuania.”
The Startup Visa is a temporary residence permit issued by the Migration Department and approved by the Ministry of Economy. An evaluation committee decides if the startup applying is suitable. This committee is made up of representatives of local startup accelerators and venture capital funds, plus staff from Startup Lithuania and the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology. There are some key criteria for startups applying for the visa: the startup must operate in an innovate field, the applicant must legally be at least a partial owner of the newly founded company, and they must have enough financial resources to achieve the set business goals for 1 year. A set amount is not stipulated, and applicants have the freedom to decide how much capital is required to achieve the startup’s goals for their first year in Lithuania.
New immigration legislation which helps entrepreneurs relocate and grow high-impact startups in Lithuania was launched on the 1st of January. Full procedures were introduced in March. The changes allow for a fast-tracked process for receiving temporary residency for high-tech, early stage startups that have a scalable and innovative product or business model. Now startups can quickly and straightforwardly apply for a 1 year temporary residence permit. This permit can then be extended for another year, and even further beyond this, provided the startup demonstrates sufficient progress and sound economic activities. The general Startup Visa application process takes between one to two months.