Lithuanian Companies Leave for Israel in the Hopes of a Breakthrough in Innovation Exports
On a reciprocal visit to Israel on January 28–29, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis is being accompanied by a trade mission organised by Enterprise Lithuania and the first Lithuania-Israel Innovation Forum. More than 20 of the country’s business people are hoping to establish contacts in the fields of digital technology, cybersecurity and life sciences.
Minister of Economy and Innovation Virginijus Sinkevičius, who is part of the Prime Minister’s delegation, says that during the visit, Lithuania is expecting active dialogue in the field of innovation policy. “Israel is one of the world leaders in innovation, and Lithuania is a rapidly developing regional innovation centre, so Lithuania’s main goal is to find new opportunities with partners in Israel for collaboration based on scientific results and innovation,” says Mr Sinkevičius.
Most of the Lithuanian business people who went to Israel are looking for cooperation opportunities in the fields of telecommunications, financial technology, cybersecurity, computer and mobile games, applications, big data, virtual and augmented reality and blockchain technology. Daina Kleponė, managing director at Enterprise Lithuania, an agency that promotes entrepreneurship and exports, singles out IT services as one of the most promising export areas.
“We are striving to promote the fastest possible growth in high-technology exports, because only by exporting innovation and high value-added products and services can we expect to bolster the country’s economy. We have to take advantage of Lithuania’s strengths: the high-calibre digital technology skills, the large and growing community of IT professionals, and the well-developed communication and telecommunications infrastructure. Israeli business people already know that we are strong in the field of life sciences, so now we want to exhibit our abilities in the field of IT as well,” says Ms Kleponė.
According to data provided by Enterprise Lithuania analysts, the value of exports of goods of Lithuanian origin to Israel in January–September 2018 amounted to EUR 28.5 million. The bulk of this consisted of pharmaceutical products (17.6 per cent of total Lithuanian exports), furniture (14.8 per cent), various food products (12.2 per cent), wood and articles of wood (10.3 per cent), and optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments (9 per cent).
Compared to the previous period, exports of services to Israel increased by 52 per cent in nine months last year, to EUR 18.7 million. This growth is primarily related to the increase in exports of IT, transport and other business services. The main exports in January–September 2018 were IT services (37 per cent of total service exports) and travel services (27.1 per cent).
Ms Kleponė emphasises that Israel is also an example for Lithuania’s rapidly growing startup ecosystem. “Israel has a well-developed network of investors and private equity funds, and numerous acceleration programmes that can help early-stage startups develop. Participation in these programmes is open to Lithuanian startups, so the startups we have with foreign market potential should take advantage of this,” says Ms Kleponė.
At the Lithuania-Israel Innovation Forum, Lithuanian business people will have the opportunity to establish contacts with representatives of more than 40 Israeli companies. During the visit, participants of the business delegation will visit the Israel Innovation Authority, and agency which fosters innovation, and CyberTech Tel Aviv, one of the largest cybersecurity events in the world. The Lithuanian companies and organisations taking part in the mission organised by Enterprise Lithuania include TeleSoftas, Teso LT, SneakyBox, Adeo Web, Cujo Ai Baltic, Inta, the Lithuania Israel Chamber of Commerce, Vilnius University, and the Lithuanian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.
In recent years African countries have been among the fastest growing economies in the world, while the huge potential of the continent in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) is predicting further growth. The European Union (EU) is determined to focus more attention on the digitalisation of Africa and digital economy development, with European ICT companies expected to play an important role.
According to Statistics Lithuania, total exports of goods increased by 7.3 per cent over 2018 to EUR 28.3 billion. Exports of goods of Lithuanian origin (excluding energy products) grew by 8.2 per cent to EUR 13.4 billion. Re-exports of goods (excluding energy products) grew by 5.1 per cent to EUR 10.7 billion.