How the Kharkiv IT Cluster Will Assist IT Businesses in Overcoming Challenges?
On December 12, 2023, the Annual General Meeting 2023 brought together IT companies participating in the Kharkiv IT Cluster, business and media partners, as well as government representatives in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Warsaw, and online. Traditionally, the meeting summarized the achievements of 2023, shared expectations, and discussed plans for 2024.
The year 2023 posed challenges for the IT industry both internally and externally. This year, technology companies began returning to Ukraine and continued working in the new normal conditions. In these unprecedented circumstances, every IT solution gained new significance, now serving as support for loved ones and a guarantee for Ukraine’s future. By the end of 2023, the technological sector is expected to show an 8% decline (to $6.73 billion).
Export of the IT industry 2000-2023 (*forecast for 2023), billion dollars.
The war has undoubtedly changed the approach to collaboration and created new challenges and constraints for businesses. Sales decline, reluctance of clients to hire from Ukraine, and negative communication affecting decisions to work with IT in Ukraine have shaped the work vectors of Kharkiv IT Cluster.
The current positive moment in Kharkiv is the return of companies. Many organizations remained during the war, and supporting them was crucial to ensure necessary taxes flow into the region — noticed Oleksandr Medovoi, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
The situation in Ukraine today places IT companies in a global choice. Will we become reliable external partners rooted in Ukraine, or will we remain part of the team shaping the future of Kharkiv and Ukraine?
United by values, not geography.
Kharkiv IT Cluster has grown significantly even during full-scale invasion, with over 310 participants and partners. Over the years, a unique package of cluster services has been created to help IT businesses survive and thrive.
As of December 2023, the Kharkiv IT Cluster community’s strength is noteworthy.
The number of members & partners in the Kharkiv IT Cluster community as of December 2023.
In the early summer of 2023, the “IT Cluster in the Cloud” project was launched in collaboration with the USAID Competitive Economy of Ukraine Program. This initiative aims to scale support for small and medium IT companies whose specialists are forced to relocate across Ukraine and the world while keeping their hearts in their hometowns.
The initiative, supported by the USAID Competitive Economy of Ukraine Program, is intended to support technology companies during the war to maintain their market position and preserve growth potential. Through training, services, and platforms provided by this program, the Kharkiv IT Cluster supports dozens of companies and hundreds of employees from Kharkiv and other regions, continuously under attack, to continue timely and high-quality service delivery to foreign clients, launch new projects and products, and contribute to the recovery and reconstruction of Kharkiv and Ukraine, as noted by Valeriy Dobrovolsky, Head of the Development Team for Technology and Creative Industries of the USAID Competitive Economy of Ukraine Program.
During the IT Cluster in the Cloud project period, over 1460 IT companies and over 600 IT companies with relocated employees joined the events, undergoing training and workshops on team preservation and increasing the export capacity of IT companies.
To preserve IT businesses in new conditions, Kharkiv IT Cluster processed over 3150 requests from participants, organized more than 110 events, and held over 450 advocacy meetings for IT business interests. Over 1470 engaged participants formed 7 specialized communities within Kharkiv IT Cluster.
Work with the Kharkiv IT Cluster community for the preservation of the IT business in 2023.
The work with the Kharkiv IT Cluster community for the preservation of IT businesses in 2023 has been significant.
The year 2024 is preparing new challenges, so Kharkiv IT Cluster will focus on strengthening networking, expanding opportunities and special services for the community, and seeking and engaging the best experts to enhance the operational functions and scale IT companies’ members within Kharkiv IT Cluster.
To stimulate the organization’s increased impact through trust and cooperation among community members and build a positive business reputation for the IT industry at all levels, an ethical committee of the Kharkiv IT Cluster will start operating in March 2024.
Long-term investment in human capital.
The IT industry continues to develop despite the challenges of 2022-2023 and is recognized as one of the sectors that will form the foundation of the new peaceful Ukraine. For the IT industry, people are the backbone of the sector. Therefore, today and in the coming years, one of the key challenges for Ukraine will be the vision and strategy regarding the country’s human capital.
For Kharkiv IT Cluster, education and talent retention have always been a priority for collaboration because it is a long-term investment. This year, Kharkiv IT Cluster joined the creation of the National Education and Science Strategy of Ukraine 2030 with key education stakeholders.
Over 50% of Kharkiv IT Cluster’s resources were directed towards 40 educational projects and initiatives covering the entire pipeline of IT professional preparation, from school to university and adult education. The focus was also on retraining, expanding opportunities for veterans, and supporting their path into the IT field.
Educational events organized by Kharkiv IT Cluster in 2023.
In 2023, over 445 free events were conducted in the educational direction, involving more than 26,500 participants. Fifteen disciplines in higher education institutions were certified in a pilot project supported by NAZAVO. The IT Applicant Portal’s promotional campaign, supported by the IT business, reached over 17.3 million people and over 130,000 visitors from April to July. Thanks to this, Kharkiv ranked 3rd in the number of applications submitted for the 12th sector to universities.
Coverage of the promotional campaign for higher education institutions in Kharkiv in 2023.
Olga Shapoval, Executive Director of Kharkiv IT Cluster, notes: “We have over 160 educational partners – universities, colleges, schools – across Ukraine. Therefore, we collaborate not only with specialists in the software industry. Through this partnership, we believe we can create a system that helps people find their place in the new peaceful Ukraine. This poses the most challenges, namely finding a workforce for the restoration of Ukraine on the one hand and finding jobs for those who have unfortunately lost their positions. Therefore, we are ready.”
This academic year, 4 million Ukrainian schoolchildren will study practical videos about IT professions as part of the project “Updated Informatics – IT Studios.” Ten out of 16 videos were produced and shot by companies within Kharkiv IT Cluster.
10 out of 16 videos within the project were produced and filmed by companies affiliated with Kharkiv IT Cluster.
The prospects for collaboration regarding human capital in 2024-2025 are currently characterized by a global gap between falling sales, decreasing hiring from Ukraine, and increasing demands for professionals and their fundamental skills. In 2024, new challenges arise because, despite a shortage of people, resources for investing in “student” positions will be limited. There will be an increasing need for fundamental skills and completed education. Talents require more attention, and the education system requires adaptation. Therefore, Kharkiv IT Cluster has completely updated and balanced its project portfolio to support and attract talents in IT.
An additional crucial challenge for Ukraine is the reintegration of veterans into civilian life, their adaptation, and career guidance. Hence, Kharkiv IT Cluster enters 2024 with the creation of an ecosystem for the professional reorientation of veterans. Through partnerships with major technology companies and NGOs, the aim is to create a conscious and supportive environment where veterans can feel confident and find their place in modern IT. The ecosystem project is set to launch in the first half of 2024 and unfolds through the creation of interaction platforms with stakeholders: veterans, veteran foundations, IT companies, IT courses, relevant NGOs, and associations.
Communication about the ecosystem for the development of Kharkiv IT Cluster participants.
In the context of decentralization, communication has acquired strategic importance. In 2023, over 1200 articles and posts about sustainability, IT company cases, and joint projects were published in collaboration with Kharkiv IT Cluster initiatives.
We are supported by regional, national, and international media. Kharkiv IT Cluster’s activities have been covered in over 170 media materials with over 1 million impressions, expert comments, and in-depth interviews on key issues for the IT business in Kharkiv in more than 30 national media outlets.
PR & Comms Metrics for Kharkiv IT Cluster in 2023.
As part of the IT Cluster in the Cloud project, a comprehensive promotional campaign was launched, during which 9 promotional videos targeted both Ukrainian and international audiences to strengthen the employer brand and enhance the reputation of Ukrainian IT. The overall viewership for the promotional campaign reached 3 million views. The campaign included promotional articles about the resilience and invincibility of the Ukrainian technology sector, which were featured on national and international platforms.
Since the end of the previous year, Kharkiv IT Cluster has become the sole official partner of the EEN Consortium among technological associations. This year, 38 IT companies and 30 profiles and projects ready for cooperation have been registered on the consortium’s platform. Throughout the year, profile events were held for over 1040 participants.
Metrics of collaboration within the partnership with the EEN Consortium for 2023.
In 2023, the IT Community loyalty program by Kharkiv IT Cluster, with technical support from Webspark, united over 600 early users who were already receiving discounts and gifts.
2024 will be transformative for communication as it requires a refreshed vision to replace the canceled destination. Together, we will refocus on highlighting the “We deliver no matter what” cases and jointly create public portfolios to illustrate the resilience of Kharkiv IT for clients.
In January 2024, the pilot project Ukraine Ready4EU will launch for 1500 companies, allowing IT companies to receive support of €2500 for covering expenses related to export enhancement to the EU (business trips, events, exhibitions, etc.).
Opportunities of the Ukraine Ready4EU project for IT companies in the community.
Also in 2024, Kharkiv IT Cluster will update the Kharkiv IT Research 2024 project, conducted with a new approach to researching the ecosystem in the new dynamic conditions of the IT industry’s existence.
Influencing the future of Ukraine and rebuilding Kharkiv.
This year, Kharkiv IT Cluster consistently focused on legal support and advocacy for the interests of the IT business, actively collaborating with regional and national authorities. It was crucial at all levels to maintain a continuous dialogue with associations and unions in Ukraine to synchronize the positions of the IT business.
Since 2023, Kharkiv IT Cluster has been actively involved in creating a strategy for the restoration of Kharkiv and the return of the IT business to the city, working on solutions for building Kharkiv as a Smart City. One of the key focuses of the association’s activities remains the processes in Ukraine related to the formation of state policy in the Dіya.City space.
In addition, Kharkiv IT Cluster continues to advocate for the interests of the IT community in matters of obtaining critical status and reservation.
Undoubtedly, transparent and responsible mechanisms for business trips will remain a red line in 2024.
Throughout 2023 and into 2024, we will witness a decline in the volume of foreign support. The IT4Life project plans a complete restart and the construction of a systematic approach from preferential donations to standard provisioning with the optimization of business processes and elements of social entrepreneurship.
The unity within the community remains extremely important, as it involves the exchange of systemic experience among charitable foundations and volunteers, the collection and analysis of requests, and the joint search for the best solutions that will support Ukraine and bring Victory closer.
The New Normal of 2024.
Every day, events in Ukraine toughen us for new conditions of life, work, and goal-setting. Strengthening the country and laying the foundation for its future needs to happen today, embracing the new normal as a reality. Each IT solution is a contribution to the economy and a support to defenders, while every agreement made is a guarantee of assistance to loved ones and those who need it the most.
2024 won’t be an easy year for the community, but our unity multiplies our resources, expertise, and capabilities to support the country. Modern warfare has long moved beyond heavy weaponry and is now in a phase of “brain confrontation,” where we have undeniable advantages.
We have united IT companies across Ukraine and are always open to new partnerships to collectively strengthen Ukraine’s position in the global technology industry and secure Ukraine’s Victory.
🎄 We express our deep gratitude for the support of the event to our partners Drivovo, «Isolation» escape rooms, KTC, Promodo HUB, Creative States, Polish-Ukrainian Startup Bridge, YermilovCenter, Englishdom, Terra Incognita, Honey Academy, Credit Agricole, Attorneys’ Association BELPART.