Tech News Feb. 19: Lithuania has the region’s ‘fastest growing’ startup market, VC investor will own 25% of Yandex


🚀 Lithuania Is the Fastest Growing Startup Ecosystem in CEE Region: 2023 Report

Lithuania maintains its position as the fastest-growing startup ecosystem in the CEE region in 2023, according to the Lithuanian startup landscape report by Its ecosystem value grew 7.1 times between 2018 and 2023, surpassing Estonia and Latvia. However, Estonia leads in venture capital investment, with startups raising around $453.2 million (€420.3 million) in 2023, while Lithuania ranked second with approximately $314 million (€292 million). The report highlights the most funded industries in Lithuania, including enterprise software, security, and energy, which experienced significant growth. [Source: BalticVC]

📄 Eastern European VC Report 2023

The latest Venture in Eastern Europe Report showcases the growth of the region’s venture capital space, with total venture deals surpassing around $1.99 billion (€1.85 billion). Their data provides insights into investment volume trends, countries with over $107 million (€100 million) in investments, standout startups, and key learnings and trends shaping the region’s startup landscape for the year ahead. Moreover, the report revealed diverse patterns of startup investment rounds across countries, with the Balkans primarily seeing the bulk of pre-seed and seed round activity. In contrast, more developed markets like Poland attract the majority of investment in later stages, leaving Hungary somewhere in between. [Source: LinkedIn]


🏡 Estonian VC Firm Backs Finnish Real Estate Startup

Taavet+Sten, the investment firm led by Wise’s co-founder Taavet Hinrikus and Teleport’s co-founder Sten Tamkivi, participated in a Series B round raised by Finnish real estate startup Bob W. The company aims to “combine the reliability and services of a hotel with the practicality and flair of private rentals.” Lead investor Helsinki-based VC Evli Growth Partners, Flashpoint VC and existing investors also participated in the round. With this funding, Bob W plans to enhance its technology, expand its team, and enter new European cities. [Source: BalticVC]

👩 Ex-CEO of Eurora Joins Estonian Vehicle Developer as VP of Finance

Anneli Aljas, former CEO of bankrupt company Eurora, has taken on the role of Vice President of Finance at Estonian autonomous delivery vehicle developer Starship Technologies. With previous executive positions at Eurora and Estonian mobility unicorn Bolt, her expertise will support Starship as it expands into new markets, following around $89.3 million (€83.3 million) in a fundraising round led by Estonian-founded Plural and London-based Iconical. [Source: BalticVC]

🎶 Estonian VC Invests in French Music Platform’s Global Expansion

Estonia-based Trind Ventures joined as one of the lead investors in a $7.9 million (€7.4 million) Series A round of Paris-based music marketplace Groover, alongside French VCs OneRagtime, techmind, and MozzaAngelss. Groover, founded in 2018, connects early-career musicians with industry professionals. The company plans to use the investment to expand into North America, Europe, and Latin America while enhancing its platform’s features. [Source: BalticVC]

🚶Lithuanian Wellness Tech Platform Raised $1.07M in Investment

Lithuanian wellness tech platform walk15 raised around $1.07 million (€1 million) from CoinvestVC and a syndicate of 32 angels led by Justinas Pasys. Founded in 2019, Walk15 promotes employee activity by converting steps into discounts, boasting over 1,300 clients and 640,000 users. [Source: BalticVC]

🤖 Estonian VC Invested in Construction Site Robots Startup 

Plural, co-founded by Estonian entrepreneurs, joined a $26.9 million (€25 million) funding round for Amsterdam-based Monumental, a startup specializing in construction robots. The investment, co-led by London-based Hummingbird Ventures, will help with Monumental’s team expansion plans, leveraging its bricklaying robots. [Source: BalticVC]

🌐 Lithuanian Cyber Security Solutions Provider Raised $700K 

CyberUpgrade, a cyber security startup led by ex-Paysolut founders, raised around $700,000 (€650,000) in pre-seed funding from NGL syndicate and FIRSTPICK, backed by 23 angel investors. The platform offers comprehensive cyber security services, leveraging AI for threat detection. It plans to expand its offerings with fresh investment and continue developing and expanding its platform for clients. [Source:]


🔥 Belgian AI-centric Acceleration Program Launches Its Next Cohort

Seven Camp, Belgium’s leading AI-focused startup incubator and accelerator, is seeking Ukrainian founders for its upcoming cohort, focusing on AI applications in cybersecurity, fintech, IoT, smart city, and dual-use tech. With an application deadline of March 1st, 2024, Seven Camp offers a comprehensive program, including pitch training, mentorship, access to funding, and a vibrant startup community, aiming to foster success for all participants in a mutually beneficial partnership. Applications can be submitted here. [Source: TechUkraine]


💵 New Venture Fund to Finance Central Asian IT Startups 

Qazaqstan Investment Corporation (QIC) JSC and Sturgeon Capital have partnered to establish a new venture fund, Sturgeon Emerging Opportunities II LP, focusing on financing IT startups across Central Asia at various stages. QIC’s Chairman Erbolat Zholat highlighted the importance of attracting foreign investment to Kazakhstan. At the same time, Sturgeon Capital’s Chairman Kiyan Zandie expressed enthusiasm for considering promising projects in the region, emphasizing Kazakhstan’s role as a gateway to the Central Asian market. [Source:]

📡 Poland’s New VC to Support Early-stage Deeptech Startups

The Warsaw University of Technology launched the WUT IF venture capital fund in January 2024 to support early-stage deeptech startups in Poland, aiming for a first close of $5 million with external LPs. With a focus on deeptech startups originating from universities across Poland, WUT IF plans to support 18 startups over the next three to five years, offering tickets ranging from $120,000-260,000 and providing expertise and access to university research groups. [Source:]

💰Full Speed Ventures Launches a New $53M Fund

Full Speed Ventures, a European VC firm, has unveiled its second $53 million (€50 million) technology fund to support early-stage tech startups with initial investments ranging from $1.07 to 2.1 million (€1 to 2 million). Known for its hands-on approach, the firm prioritizes a small portfolio size to provide extensive support to each company, focusing on sectors like cybersecurity, medtech, AI, and consumer technology across the CEE region. [Source:]

⭐ Silkroad Innovation Hub Hosted CEO of Y Combinator

Silkroad Innovation Hub hosted Garry Tan, CEO of Y Combinator this week, in a sign of . Tan’s discussion provided invaluable guidance, emphasizing the importance of crafting an application, showcasing product demos, and applying to YC when startups feel ready, along with insights into the evolving nature of startups and the adaptability required for sustainable growth. [Source: LinkedIn]


🌿 Climate Tech Startup Secured $1.6M Grant from EIC Accelerator

A Ukrainian-based Carbominer secured a $1.6 million (€1.5 million) grant from the EIC Accelerator Fund, with the potential for up to $8.08 million (€7.5 million) in equity investment. This funding marks a significant step toward commercializing their Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology. The startup aims to revolutionize carbon dioxide capture by providing sustainable CO2 to indoor farmers, advancing agricultural sustainability while showcasing Ukraine’s growing innovation potential on the global stage. The team is now negotiating the late seed raised to complement this funding. [Source: TechUkraine]

💰Roosh Ventures Invested in Israel-Founded Startup

Ukrainian Roosh Ventures invested in, an Israeli startup founded by former Facebook, Microsoft, and Rookout engineers, as part of an $8 million Series A funding round led by Scale Venture Partners.’s new solution, Approval Flows, streamlines application authorization processes, catering to evolving needs with backing from leading investors and industry players. [Source: TechUkraine]


💬 AI-Content Creation Platform Launched by Kazakh Startup

Kazakh startup iDosGames has launched AI iDos Games, an AI platform catering to businesses and bloggers, offering a suite of popular content creation tools in one centralized location. With functionalities like customized chatbots, text and image generation, voice-over capabilities, and more, the platform aims to streamline user content creation processes, with subscription plans starting at $9.99 per month and a free trial option available. [Source:]


📈2024 Vision: After IT Park Uzbekistan Generates Revenue of $1B in 2023

As of 2023, Uzbekistan’s IT Park boasted 1,652 residents, generating $1 billion in revenue, with exports totaling $344 million and employing over 26,000 individuals. Underlining the government’s commitment, the “IT Park 2024: Achievements & Vision” event highlighted the goal of achieving $5 billion in IT service exports by 2030, alongside efforts to support local companies and attract foreign investment through initiatives like the “Zero Risk” and “Local2Global” programs, and the establishment of the International Digital Technology Center. [Source:]


💵 Aleet Tech Company Raised $1.25M in pre-Series A Round

Warsaw-based Aleet, specializing in fleet management technology, raised $1.25 million to expand in Central and Eastern Europe. The team, led by Katarzyna Marczuk, focuses on digital twin tech and AI-driven routing. The investment, co-led by CofounderZone and FundingBox Deep Tech Fund, would support Aleet’s regional growth. [Source:]

🧠 Mental Care App Raised $2.6M in Funding

Mindgram, a Warsaw-based mental health startup, secured around $2.6 million (€2.5 million) in investment from Smartlink Partners, Market One Capital, Credo Ventures, and Portfolion, for its global expansion. Founded in 2020, Mindgram offers a science-based platform and mobile app for mental wellness, providing tools to support employee well-being and performance. With plans to expand services to over 70 markets and 37 languages, Mindgram aims to enhance access to mental health resources worldwide. [Source:]

🤝 Innova Capital Acquired Minority Stake in Polish CloudFerro

Innova Capital has acquired a minority stake in CloudFerro, a leading provider of cloud services for space tech companies based in Warsaw, with plans to expand its solutions internationally. Founded in 2015, CloudFerro specializes in cloud computing services dedicated to the European space sector. It has a team of over 200 employees and its own cloud infrastructure located in data centers across Europe. [Source:]


🚘 Car Dealership Platform Raised $107M of Fresh Investment

Omnetic, a Czech-founded provider of digital tools for car dealerships, secured around $107 million (€100 million) in funding from Kartesia and CVI to fuel its European expansion. Founded by Jakub Šulta, Pavel Svoreň, and Petr Kratochvíl, Omnetic’s parent company, the EAG Group, focuses on digitizing automotive services across twelve European markets, offering dealership management solutions for car dealers and repair shops. The startup further hopes to use the funding for facilitate customer acquisition growth for its platform. [Source:]


❌ AI Development Led to 34,000 Employees Losing Jobs in 2024

Since the beginning of the year, tech companies have cut 34,000 jobs as they shift focus to artificial intelligence, reports the Financial Times. Leading companies like Microsoft, Snap, eBay, and PayPal have made significant layoffs, reflecting a strategic reallocation of resources towards emerging technologies like generative AI.


🔍 Yandex’s Net Income Shrinks in Half in 2023

The parent company of the Russian tech giant, which is registered in the Netherlands and still listed on NASDAQ, reported its quarterly earnings last week. The results were sobering: The net income of the tech giant shrank by 54% in 2023, even as its total revenues grew 53% for the whole year compared to a year ago. As reported by The Bell, the deal reached this month to restructure Yandex marks the end of its 25-year-old struggle for independence. Infinity Management, which is owned by VC investor and founder of LETA Capital Alexander Chachava, will own 25% of the company as a part of the restructuring deal. 

[Sources: Yandex, The Bell, Reuters]

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