Vision for Human Capital and IT Business Cooperation in the Face of Industry Challenges. Kharkiv IT Cluster General Meeting 2023.
On September 8, 2023, the team and members of the Kharkiv IT Cluster gathered at the General Meeting 2023 simultaneously in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, and online. The meeting summarized the results of the first half of 2023 and discussed future plans.
Despite the challenges faced by the Kharkiv IT Cluster community in 2022, today we observe a positive trend: IT businesses are returning to Ukraine. But is the outlook for IT development in Ukraine as promising as it seems? In the first half of 2023, exports of IT services from Ukraine decreased to $3.9 billion. According to recent statistics, 2.4 million Ukrainians left and have not returned to Ukraine since February 24, 2022, a significant portion of whom constitute the working population capable of actively contributing to the country’s economic recovery. Currently, every IT professional creates five job opportunities, but on average, there are 30 resumes for every job vacancy in the industry.
Therefore, the future of IT in Ukraine, without coordinated efforts from the government and the technology business sector to address key IT issues, appears to be following an inert scenario. While the IT business may not disappear entirely, it will likely lose the opportunity to position Ukraine as a leader in producing innovative solutions. This context has shaped the new vision and scale of activities for the Kharkiv IT Cluster in 2023.
Vision for Talent Retention
The IT industry is recognized as a cornerstone of the renewed peaceful Ukraine, and the vision for the future of human capital is a matter to be addressed today. This year, Kharkiv IT Cluster joined in creating the National Strategy for Education and Science in Ukraine 2030 alongside key education stakeholders.
Over 50% of Kharkiv IT Cluster’s resources were dedicated to 40 educational projects and initiatives covering the entire pipeline of IT professional development, from school to university and adult education, with a focus on retraining, expanding opportunities for veterans, and supporting their paths into the IT field. In 2023, over 283 free events were conducted in the education direction, engaging more than 12,200 participants.
The promotional campaign of the IT Applicant Portal, supported by IT businesses, reached over 17.3 million people and over 130,000 visitors from April to July. Thanks to this initiative, Kharkiv ranked 3rd in the number of applications submitted to universities in 12 fields.
Alexander Medovoy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Kharkiv IT Cluster, noted, “We are deeply integrated into the process of reforming technology education and talent support. To date, we have successfully implemented over 100 educational programs with 35 universities, preparing professionals for the technology industry. Even before the full-scale student influx, the student community numbered over 350,000 students. We believe that our activities will continue to be an effective catalyst for the development of talented youth.”
This academic year, 4 million Ukrainian schoolchildren will study practical IT profession videos under the “Renewed Informatics – IT Studies” project, with 10 out of 16 videos produced by companies within Kharkiv IT Cluster.
A Community Bound by Values, Not Geography
The Kharkiv IT Cluster community comprises over 270 members and partners without geographic restrictions, all of whom require cluster services. This inspired the launch of the “IT Cluster in the Cloud” project with the support of the USAID Competitive Economy of Ukraine program, aimed at supporting small and medium-sized companies that have relocated their personnel in some way.
Each project participant joins workshops on preserving jobs, managing and restoring IT businesses in Ukraine, and participates in expert case studies on recovery and strengthening export capabilities.
“The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been working with the technology sector since 2019 and has increased its support for the sector since the start of the full-scale invasion to help them maintain their positions and achievements in a complex military time in the domestic and international markets. The agency provides grants to high-tech product manufacturers, supports IT companies’ trade missions and startups, and partners with the government, IT clusters, and associations to implement numerous initiatives to ensure the sustainability and continuity of the Ukrainian IT sector. The ‘Kharkiv IT Cluster in the Cloud’ initiative, supported by the USAID Competitive Economy of Ukraine program, aims not only to maintain the current state of affairs in cluster member companies but also to promote the development of their businesses and provide quality services to IT professionals regardless of their location and work. We understand that companies in possible and active conflict areas and those in the zone of continuous attacks require special support to continue providing their services on time and with quality, launch new projects and products, and contribute to the region’s recovery. We look forward to further fruitful cooperation with the Kharkiv IT Cluster and other interested partners,” said Natalia Petrova, USAID project manager.
The comprehensive promotional campaign under the project highlights the resilience of the Ukrainian IT industry to both the national and international target audiences. Soon, 20 stories of women in IT leadership will be revealed, and each IT company in the community will become the hero of a success story promo video.
As of today, 39 relocated IT companies have joined IT Cluster in the Cloud, and 254 relocated IT companies have gained access to the project’s unique opportunities. In nine unique events and activities within the project, 1180 representatives of IT companies have participated.
This vision and collaboration between the IT industry and educational institutions are essential for the future of Ukraine’s IT sector and its ability to retain and develop talent even in challenging times.
Kharkiv Rebuilding and Proactively Influencing Key IT Processes in the country
This year, Kharkiv IT Cluster is actively participating in shaping the strategy for rebuilding Kharkiv and the development of a Smart City concept. This will redefine Kharkiv as an innovative, modern city with a heroic character, not just after the war but starting right now.
Legal support and lobbying for the interests of the IT business are critical focuses of our activities. Kharkiv IT Cluster is currently collaborating with authorities at both the regional and national levels. The main challenges include facilitating transparent travel abroad for business purposes to secure new contracts and talent reservations, which will help retain intellectual capital and positively impact the industry.
In particular, Olga Shapoval, the Executive Director of Kharkiv IT Cluster, has been involved in meetings with government representatives regarding the “eBooking” initiative and has submitted proposals that are currently being reviewed by relevant ministries.
Alexander Medovoy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, has taken the lead in the Innovation Technology Expert Advisory Committee of the Public Council under the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. He has also been appointed as a representative of the Public Council to the Appeals Commission of “Diia City.”
“I see the organization of ‘Diia City’ residents as a communication tool between the state and its residents. By creating it on the principles of equality and transparency, we can involve many residents and not just express wishes or comments from the perspective of individual companies but actively advocate for and represent the interests of participants in the ‘Diia City’ space,” said Alexander Medovoy regarding cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Transformation.
Scalable Services Beyond Geography
In 2023, cluster services have taken a new direction, focusing on IT companies regardless of their specific geographic location. In the first half of 2023, over 900 articles and posts were published about resilience, IT company case studies, and joint initiatives of the Kharkiv IT Cluster. We have received support from regional, national, and international media outlets. In the first half of 2023, Kharkiv IT Cluster’s activities were featured in more than 80 media materials with over 1 million coverage, including expert comments and in-depth interviews on key issues for the IT business in Kharkiv in over 30 national media outlets.
As the sole official partner of the EEN Consortium among IT associations, Kharkiv IT Cluster organized 14 specialized events for more than 860 participants, aimed at strengthening the key business functions of small and medium-sized IT companies with international ambitions. Additionally, it co-organized the international event “7th International B2B Software Days 2023” in Vienna.
Over 3,000 participants joined networking events for IT business leaders and professionals in HR, PR, marketing, sales, legal, from all corners of Ukraine and around the world.
Now, with the technical support of Webspark, IT Community is the first loyalty program from Kharkiv IT Cluster that unites IT professionals across Ukraine. The aim is to remind every IT community member, regardless of their location, that they are part of a larger community working together for the development of the technology business ecosystem.
2023 – No Need to Wait Until “After Victory”
The current paradigm in the country often focuses on “after the war.” However, the Kharkiv IT Cluster community is driving change today, not postponing life and not waiting for the war to end. Building the future of Ukraine and uniting around this goal is needed today.
It’s important to create a new “Tomorrow” through collaboration between the IT business and the government on strategic issues, to develop the IT industry as a key sector for the economic recovery of Ukraine.
Kharkiv IT Cluster is a powerful alliance that continues to grow, even in challenging times. We are always open to new participants. Joining Kharkiv IT Cluster means becoming part of significant changes in the world of unstoppable innovators and heroes.