Experts note the Crimean IT sector’s promising outlook

The Crimean region looks quite promising in terms of the IT industry’s development, say experts of an EU-funded project. The project seeks to prepare Crimea for attracting huge investments in the IT sector.

Mobile World Congress 3GSM in BarcelonaDifferent countries, including the USA, Great Britain, and Germany, are ready to make  investments in Crimea’s IT sector. However, prior to increasing their IT investments in Ukraine, the investors should be aware of the country’s potential in the IT sphere, says David Banks, an Irish investment expert who is also engaged in the EU Project “Foreign Direct Investment Promotion in Sevastopol”.

Banks points at the high quality of higher education in Crimea. At the same time, Ukraine has low taxes and the salaries of highly-skilled professionals in the country are much lower than those of their colleagues in the US or Germany. These factors make Crimea very attractive in terms of development of the IT sector.

“The IT cluster ‘Crimea,’ which is currently under construction, is tasked with delivering information to potential investors and developing competitive proposals,” he says, adding that this is exactly what the project is aimed at doing here.

David Banks, key expert at EU Project “Foreign Direct Investment Promotion in Sevastopol”
David Banks, key expert at EU Project “Foreign Direct Investment Promotion in Sevastopol”

To date, almost 300 IT companies are working in Crimea, with many of them benefitting from the fact that they are clients of well-known IT giants, such as Windows, Kaspersky, Apple, Yandex, etc. Despite these advantages, it is still not easy to find high-skilled IT professionals in Crimea, claims Denys Muratov, an expert at WavesAudio company.

“Once we wanted to build a team of smart developers, but faced difficulties with finding appropriate professionals. This pushed us to move to Kyiv to scout candidates there,” Muratov stresses.

The WavesAudio experience is one of a few cases when an IT company, in order to train professionals, has been forced to establish a special laboratory for that purpose in the SevastopolNationalTechnicalUniversity. Actually, it is difficult to find highly qualified IT specialist with good knowledge of English in Sevastopol or Simferopol. Therefore such experts are usually recruited from offices in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv or even from other countries, such as Israel, India, or the USA.

In Sevastopol, demand for IT experts is outgrowing supply. Responding to this situation and with the view of somehow closing this gap, SoftServe company has organized a three-month training course to produce more skilled workers.

However, the experts say that the time is needed to achieve an equal balance between the demand and supply on the market. At the same time, higher education institutions are ready to meet the fast-growing needs of the Crimean IT sector and train highly qualified professionals, Olena Zhuravliova, the project’s expert, says. She believes, moreover, that once the IT cluster is finally developed, the Sevastopol and Crimean IT market will be on the brink of great changes. “The big investors are not usually interested in companies that employ only two, three or even ten specialists. However, if such companies are united in so-called co-operatives, this could attract the attention of potential investors,” Zhuravliova explains.

Therefore the project’s idea is to establish the “Crimea” IT cluster in order to improve the competitiveness of the Crimean IT sector and create favorable conditions for attracting foreign investment into the region. Now the cluster encompasses almost 70 small and medium-sized enterprises and a number of higher education institutions responsible for training IT specialists.

This month in Sevastopol and Simferopol, the project’s experts held Information and Communication Technology Week, which was co-hosted by IT cluster companies and Sevastopol authorities. The heads of IT companies met with local authorities, higher education institutions’ lecturers, and students to discuss joint projects. This represents just another step in the development of the “Crimea” IT cluster. It is also planned that such meetings will be held annually.

According to Zhuravliova, the EU provided Sevastopol with €2 million in financial assistance to improve its investment attractiveness, create a special system aimed at attracting investments, improve the city’s image and assist companies in their internationalisation process. “We are seeking companies and deciding what sectors should be promoted. We also consult companies, helping them to prepare all necessary papers requested by investors,” Zhuravliova argues, adding that in the near future the project plans to go beyond Crimea and conduct its mission throughout Ukraine and even abroad. “Then everything will depend on IT cluster capacities to attract foreign investments,” she concludes.

Background

Foreign Direct Investment Promotion in Sevastopol is a pilot project of the European Union. Its results and experience could be of future use in other Ukrainian regions. The success of the “Crimea” IT cluster could become an impetus for the sustainable development of other spheres in Sevastopol, including automotive and electronic parts and equipment sectors.

Vladyslav Osypov, Sevastopol, EU-Ukraine Co-operation News