Lviv IT Cluster Provides The Critical Infrastructure of the Western Regions with 400 Starlink Terminals

In March 2022, the Lviv IT Cluster and the SpaceX division launched a joint initiative to provide the critical infrastructure of western regions of Ukraine with a backup source of internet supply. During this time, the Cluster community purchased and transferred 400 Starlink terminals for the needs of the critical infrastructure of the western regions of Ukraine.

Starlink for the needs of Lviv region

The first batch of Starlink terminals (a total of 25 terminals) was transfered to Lviv Regional Military Administration in March. Strategically important enterprises and institutions – communal services, medical institutions, rescue services, security services, etc. received the terminals.

USAID joined the purchase of the second batch of terminals. During this transfer, the region received another 40 Starlinks.

“We are glad to help. Access to backup communications is vital in times of war. Therefore, critical infrastructure must have such a connection. Terminals were purchased by members of our community and our international partners. I am very grateful to all parties and the USAID for their active involvement,” says Stepan Veselovskyi, CEO of the Lviv IT Cluster.

Strengthening of the critical infrastructure of Zakarpattia region

Zakarpattia region received the first Starlink terminals, a total of 10, at the end of March. At that time, many companies of the Lviv IT Cluster relocated to this region, so it was important that the region has backup internet connectio. The second transfer took place in August – the region received 5 more Starlink terminals. During the distribution of backup communication means, important objects of critical infrastructure, which, if necessary, will be able to work in autonomous mode through the terminal were taken into account.

15 Starlink terminals for Ivano-Frankivsk region

During the terminal allocation, it was vital to ensure that critical infrastructure receive backup communications: in particular, these are medical and educational institutions, TV channels.

“I want to thank our colleagues for this delivery. It will enable us to technically strengthen our institutions that receive a large number of internally displaced people. The Prykarpattia region has become a refuge for more than 145,000 people. In particular, we host many people from socially vulnerable sectors of the population, so the social sphere must be protected. I also thank USAID for participating in the purchase of this batch of terminals. I hope that we will continue to strengthen our cooperation,” says Svitlana Onyshchuk, head of the Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Military Administration.

Provision of critical infrastructure in the Volyn region

Representatives of the Lviv IT Cluster handed over five Starlink terminals to Volyn Regional Military Administration for critical infrastructure facilities in the region, stressing that in the conditions of martial law, it is extremely important for medics, rescuers and soldiers to have a backup connection.

“State authorities purchase these devices to provide connectivity for critical infrastructure in war-torn or active combat areas. We, as an active community, have taken on the mission of securing the rear. Reliable communication here is very important for our victory,” adds Yuriy Ohonovskyi, Deputy CEO of the Lviv IT Cluster.

Uninterrupted and reliable internet connection is key to business existence, further development of the IT industry in Ukraine, and timely fulfillment of obligations to foreign customers. Attracting such an innovative solution to Ukraine and directly cooperating with the leader of the tech industry, SpaceX, gives credibility to the international business community regarding doing business with Ukrainian companies.

In addition, Starlink terminials were received by the Air Command “West” of the Air Force of Ukraine. This helped increase the effectiveness of the air defense of 7 western regions by 40%.

IT Generation – an Initiative for Switchers Willing to Start a Career in Tech

The Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine has launched a new IT Generation project. The project is launched in a partnership with Binance and the Lviv IT Cluster. This initiative is taken to help Ukrainians get the tech profession for free. Despite the full-scale war, Ukrainian IT companies maintain their capacity, fulfill contracts, and therefore need skilled workers.

The program will last for 2-6 months for Ukrainian citizens aged 21 to 60 without a formal education and experience in the IT field. The recommended level of English language proficiency is B1 (intermediate).

The main goal of IT Generation is to help talented Ukrainians find themselves in one of the most promising tech areas and develop the Ukrainian economy for the victory and successful future of our country.

“IT Generation is a big and important project for Ukrainians and our economy. It will provide free quality education for thousands of our citizens to get a job in IT. We can solve a number of staffing problems for tech companies which will allow the industry to grow faster. The IT Generation project will create new career paths for people who lost their jobs due to the war,” says Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine.

During the project’s first phase, 22 tech schools got the right to teach the students. Participants will have the opportunity to study: Blockchain Development, FrontEnd, QA, JavaScript, Python, Java, as well as non-technical programs: Project /P roduct Management, UX / UI design, Digital Marketing, Business Analysis, HR. Learn more about each of the technical programs here. More about non-technical programs watch here.

About 1,000 Ukrainians will be able to master the new career. 

To participate in IT Generation, head to the project’s platform, choose a school and study program and submit an application via the selected school’s website.

The selection of students will be carried out by the school, in particular through testing and interviews. The list of the required documents can be found on the project’s platform, in the FAQ section and on school websites.

“Education is one of the main directions of the Lviv IT Cluster. We’ve been improving the quality of higher education in Lviv since 2016, and we already have thousands of students and hundreds of employed graduates. Therefore, we know how to produce positive results for both job switchers and the IT industry. For us, the IT Generation is a way to support those who have been particularly affected by the war and help them learn a new profession. In addition, it is another important initiative that will support the IT industry of Ukraine,” says Ivan Babichuk, Lviv IT Cluster Supervisory Board Chairman.

The project is supported by the USAID Competitive Economy of Ukraine Program and the Digital, Inclusive, Affordable: Supporting the Digitization of Public Services in Ukraine Project.

How War Has Impacted The Tech Industry

On July 28, the Lviv IT Cluster presented the results of the 2022 IT Research Resilience Survey: The War’s Impact on Ukraine’s IT Industry to reveal insights about critical changes in the country’s tech business activities since the war began. The report outlines the current state of the tech sector, explores how the country’s tech industry has changed since February 24, and above all, models scenarios for the future of vision. 

The swiftly changing IT market landscape makes it difficult to make long-term predictions about the future, that is why we chose a holistic approach for this IT Research Resilience study on future scenarios for the development of events in the tech industry and look beyond the horizon after the victory.

The survey, fielded between May and June 2022, found Ukraine’s tech businesses navigating the path to growth, although migration attitudes could shape its future. The findings were revealed through a survey of more than 5,000 industry representatives of the IT community across Ukraine’s top regions where IT companies relocated since February 24, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Chernivtsi, Zakarpattia, Rivne, and Volyn regions.

How IT sector changed since the full-scale invasion

With the main tech hubs being located in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Odesa, there were around 285,000 people working in tech by the end of 2021. As of June 2022, there were 60,000 fewer workers in the IT industry, down to 228,000, a nearly 21% decrease from a year earlier.

The full-scale war shook the tech industry like any other sector in the economy. At least 50,000-57,000 IT workers relocated since February 24, whilst 7,000 joined territorial defence or the armed forces. Nearly 18% of interviewed individual entrepreneurs plan to move their business abroad, according to the results of the study.

IT specialist profile: income, expenses, relocation costs

The report found that the median salary was around $2,360 since February 24, similar to the previous year. The study showed that 71% of the tech professionals were male, 29% female. 

Three-quarters of respondents (73%) see their salary at the same level or increased, although the expenses have also increased slightly. The findings show 20% of their income went towards saving and 21% of their income on food. 89% of surveyed respondents said that they donated part of their income to charities. 

IT specialists who relocated to western Ukraine spent about $14.7 million on household needs during the first month after their relocation, and they are spending another $13.6 million every month in the regions where they settled after February 24. If they continue to stay in these regions and spend the same amount by the end of 2022, the total amount of spending will reach $137.1 million.

Decision-making factors: stay or migrate?

For tech companies, people are their greatest asset. Therefore, IT workers’ attitude towards relocation abroad, and uncertainty in this area continues to be a major concern for the professional community. In the 2022 IT Research Resilience survey, 57% of respondents say they want to stay in Ukraine no matter what.

The survey presented respondents with three potential scenarios they might face  – Positive, Neutral and Negative – which were related to the development of events in Ukraine. The positive scenario related to European integration and liberalization of the economy revealed that there was a widespread attitude towards staying in Ukraine rather than moving abroad. Among respondents, four-fifths (78%) of IT specialists prefer to stay in Ukraine, while nearly 27,000 (12%) would try to migrate abroad.  

Having described the main characteristics that distinguish between respondents, that is, planning to migrate or stay in Ukraine, this survey paints a portrait of an IT specialist who is determined to move abroad in which he/she appears to be a 34-year senior qualification specialist, often in a relationship. 

In the survey, once participants had selected one of the options they were asked whether a series of factors influenced their decision to migrate onwards. The survey report examines in greater detail the factors influencing these two main decisions. How the war in Ukraine will end, how the economic policy will be changed after the victory, alongside various individual factors, have influenced people’s plans and decisions to stay or migrate from Ukraine.

War economy: business recovery and financial outlook

According to IT Research Resilience, 85% of surveyed companies reported their organization’s business operations being recovered in May 2022, they managed to completely or almost completely continue business activities at the same level as before February 24.

In January-May 2022, the IT sector showed signs of stronger growth compared with the same period last year, according to the National Bank of Ukraine. According to the research data, if the growth continues at a steady pace, then the industry’s export revenue may reach $8.5 billion by the end of 2022. If IT specialists who relocated lose tax residenсу of Ukraine, the estimated export revenue may be lower at about $7.5-7.2 billion.

IT Research Resilience is a research project of the Lviv IT Cluster. It was transformed from the IT Research Ukraine project, which the Cluster announced at the beginning of 2022. Since the full-scale offensive of Russia, the project was adapted to new realia. The project was implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Digital Transformation, the USAID Program “Competitive Economy of Ukraine”, supporting small and midsize businesses and startups, and the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, which supports initiatives to promote reforms in Ukraine and transformative projects. The collection and analysis of basic data within the sociological part of the IT Research Resilience project was provided by the Fama Research Agency on the request of the Lviv IT Cluster.

For more insights, read the full report “IT Research Resilience: The War’s Impact on Ukraine’s IT Sector

Standing Up For Ukraine’s Tech Business Frontline

For more than two months now, Ukraine has been firmly resisting Russia’s invasion. The democratic world is united with Ukraine providing humanitarian and financial assistance. Every Ukrainian citizen has responded with unprecedented support for the country in its time of need. In this struggle for Ukraine’s democracy and sovereignty, the IT industry is on the frontlines of the Armed Forces to strengthen the economy through continuity of business. Companies in the tech industry are donating millions to help with the war effort. In addition to ceasing business dealings in Russia, relocating people, and keeping business running to maintain the country’s economic stability, many of them are joining Ukraine’s armed resistance. Here’s how companies and the leaders behind them have been helping Ukraine since the early days of the war.

On emergency projects

Since the onset of the war, Lviv IT Cluster, the largest Ukrainian tech community, with over 200 member companies and more than 30 thousand tech professionals, has rallied to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the tech industry, and the displaced people. In wartime, uniting the community and supporting its members has become increasingly important, so Lviv IT Cluster has launched emergency projects that aim to ensure business continuity in such difficult times with a goal of devoting to comprehensive initiatives, such as assistance in moving tech professionals out of conflict zones to safer areas, arranging curfew passes for companies and people, providing advice and assistance from BCP team to Cluster member companies and sharing credible information, co-sharing office space for tech companies relocated to Lviv.

Lviv IT Cluster has built an international coalition with mainstream and tech media, a move intended to dispel fake news, spread the truths, tell about the Ukrainian tech industry in times of war, and share how companies even in such circumstances fulfill their obligations. Additionally, Lviv IT Cluster has resumed work at all projects that have been suspended for some time due to the war, and launched the Tax Pay Forward initiative aimed at paying in advance a single tax and single social contribution for its plan to provide the substantial support for both the state budget and local authorities that build the rear and tackle humanitarian challenges.

Stepan Veselovskyi, CEO of Lviv IT Cluster

Considering the utmost importance of uninterrupted and reliable internet connection for business existence, further development of the IT industry in Ukraine, and timely fulfillment of obligations to foreign customers, Stepan Veselovskyi came into direct communication with Elon Musk. As a result, Lviv IT Cluster and SpaceX have joined forces to help stabilize the country’s key infrastructures with reliable internet backup amid an invasion by Russia. In March 2022, Cluster purchased a large supply of Starlink terminals. By now, most terminals have reached critical infrastructure enterprises in the western region of Ukraine.

On voluntary efforts and NFTs

During the early days of the war, Inoxoft determined four main lines of work: people, customers, business, and assistance for the army. One week before the full-scale invasion, the company began to relocate workers from areas adjacent to the Russian borders based on the BCP. Soon after, Inoxoft focused on upholding mental health and regularly highlighting the general situation. Slack channels for emergency support and weekly InoXCare meetings were launched, supplemented by first aid and emergency response lectures. 

Inoxoft has set up a small fundraising base for Ukraine’s armed forces. Thus, the company has raised almost UAH 1,3 million, handed over to the army a batch of electronics, practically 250 packs of dried fruit for a field ration, weaved countless nets, sorted plenty of clothes, and joined fundraising initiatives. Inoxoft sheltered colleagues from Kyiv who have been living and working there for several weeks. The company is also unveiling disinformation, giving physical assistance at sites, and defending the IT frontline. 

Liubomyr Pohreliuk, CEO of Inoxoft

Since February 24, Inoxoft has been actively communicating with customers. The key objective was to tell the foreign partners about the present situation and ensure the uninterrupted work. The result has been achieved – the company retained all the clients; moreover, some of them decided to develop projects and expand teams. One of the clients wanted to increase the team several times, noting that it should include only patriots. Another has created a unique NFT collection, the earnings of which will go to help Ukraine. Numerous support has come in various ways, from letters and messages to Ukrainian flags on corporate social media pages and appeals to fellow citizens to support Ukraine. Long before the Russian invasion, Inoxoft was planning a strategic partnership with InSoft Partners. The agreement was prepared very thoroughly, so despite the war and indeed under the sound of air raid sirens, the agreement was signed. This partnership will help Inoxoft achieve further goals of growing, building processes, and a strong company structure.

On supporting the army

N-iX, one of Ukraine’s largest tech companies, donated over half a million dollars to help the Ukrainian Army in its fight against Russia. Also, the company has created an internal corporate charity Fund to support the Ukrainian Army. It’s focused on several directions: protective armor, air defense equipment, vans and SUVs for evacuation and army needs, as well as the support of the Come Back Alive Foundation. 

 Andrew Pavliv, Founder and CEO of N-iX

N-iX specialists have already donated thousands of dollars to the needs of Ukrainian defenders. Also, N-iX software engineers and architects are involved in the development of various tech projects, for example, a website for collecting information on Russia’s war crimes.

On cutting ties with Russia

Materialise firmly supports employees who decided to relocate and those who stayed to defend their country. The company has pledged to continue supporting Ukrainian employees in the long term as it believes their contributions to creating a better and healthier world are invaluable. As a member of the 3D printing association, Materialise affirmed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemned the humanitarian suffering caused by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion. For this reason, an association has decided to suspend all business activities in Russia. 

Fried Vancraen, CEO at Materialise

An association is entirely supporting the efforts taken by the international community and believes that the diplomatic level will boost bringing about peace and avoid further victims. The war must end quickly. An association of companies offers unwavering support and assistance for all necessary humanitarian aid. An association stands with the Ukrainian people and those committed to freedom, peace, and democracy. 

On unity

Impressit financially supports volunteers and funds. On the company’s website, Impressit info page reviews the situation in the country, informing about the accounts and funds to donate to and support Ukraine. Besides that, the most diverse ways of support are highlighted here, from how to buy NFTs at a special Opensea account, all the proceeds from which to be used to fund the Ukrainian Armed Forces and humanitarian needs, to how to be enrolled into the cyber army, or join the International Defense Legion of Ukraine.

Roman Zomko, CEO of Impressit

On the other hand, Impressit urges employees to work full-time for foreign customers and partners to appreciate the responsibility and dedication and continue to work with the Ukrainian IT market. The Impressit’s team is actively involved in volunteering to find and purchase ammunition, leveraging their international connections to help coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid from abroad. The company’s professionals are also fighting in the IT Army of Ukraine and in the information space. 

On keeping employees safe

From the first day of the war when Russia invaded Ukraine, ISsoft has been focused on its top priority – ensuring the safety of the team and their families. The company immediately organized a relocation program to help employees financially and logistically. Currently, most of the ISsoft workers are safe: some have moved abroad, others to the western region of Ukraine. As part of the financial support package, ISsoft issued an emergency fund to each team member in the Ukrainian office, an additional relocation fund is provided to cover relocation-related expenses of the team members and their families who are forced to move due to the ongoing war. 

Dmytro Sennikov, General Manager of ISsoft Ukraine

The ISsoft colleagues outside of Ukraine no only have shown tremendous support for the local teammates and Ukrainian refugees, welcoming everyone with open arms and kind hearts, but also put in so much effort in making a contribution of various resources: time – helping at the border, money – donating to charities, and housing – providing shelter for Ukrainian colleagues.

The company is proud to announce that everyone who accepted a job offer from ISsoft Ukraine, started working according to the planned schedule and underwent the necessary training. Despite the war, the company continues to grow, focused on hiring new employees. ISsoft Ukraine is also investing in the community and donating to humanitarian aid through the Wings of Hope Foundation. The charitable donations had been sent to the government (NBU) initiative to support Ukrainian citizens who are most affected by the war. 

ISsoft Ukraine also joined the Tax Pay Forward initiative of Lviv IT Cluster and paid taxes in the amount of UAH 300,000 in advance. The Ukrainian office remains open in Lviv and continues its standard daily operations. The company continues to actively hire professionals, as having a strong presence in Ukraine is one of its main goals at the moment.

On committing to Ukraine

JustAnswer and partners have raised more than UAH 10 million to help the Ukraine’s Armed Forces, doctors and migrants. Andy Kurtzig, CEO of JustAnswer, has been the initiator of foreign fundraising in support of Ukraine since the first days of the Russian invasion, the collection continues. The company has also launched a charitable collection of sweatshirts, all funds from which go to help colleagues affected by hostilities in Mariupol, Bucha, Kharkiv, and other cities. Kurtzig has transported tourniquets, drones, and night vision devices for the Ukrainian military. He also brought supplies to the Uzhhorod office for the Armed Forces, volunteers, and employees of the company who are currently fighting all over Ukraine. 

Andy Kurtzig, CEO of JustAnswer

In addition to tactical supplies, Andy Kurtzig handed out many letters and drawings from American children collected at school by his son, Kai. These letters went to Ukrainian children who were forced to leave their homes and temporarily move to Zakarpattya shelters. Andy publicly supports Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression. He has repeatedly stressed that the company’s offices remain in Lviv, Uzhhorod, and other cities and will not leave the Ukrainian market. Since the war began, he has stated this on the leading news channels CNN, FOX, CNBC, and others, urging foreign companies to maintain their presence in Ukraine.

Tech companies have assumed one of the most challenging roles, carrying out business in a war-torn country. Under the new conditions, businesses have to resolve the arising issues quickly. Companies are turning offices into shelter zones for the relocated and resettled colleagues who are running from the violence of the Russian invasion. They pay taxes in advance, donate money to the military, purchase equipment, and collect humanitarian aid bearing in mind the sole idea – stand by the country in the darkest times. 

This article was originally published in ITID Lviv.