Ukraine’s top IT event lays foundations for a post-war tech hub

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The war in Ukraine extends beyond the front lines. While soldiers risk their lives on battlefields, those left defend the home front — and the economy.

The conflict has ravaged businesses, but the tech ecosystem has shone amid the gloom. In the first quarter of this year, the industry generated a record $2 billion in export services. IT Arena 2022, an annual conference in the city of Lviv, showcased the sector’s vital role in the war — and in the peace that will follow.

The event is the brainchild of Lviv IT Cluster, a community of companies, authorities, and universities that’s turning the local region into the tech center of Eastern Europe.

This year’s edition faced unprecedented challenges. The organizers had to ensure the safety of every participant, adapt the event format to the wartime situation, and gather international speakers in a country under invasion. Overcoming these obstacles provided further evidence of Ukraine’s strengths.

“Conferences like this show that we’re really resilient,” said Stepan Veselovskyi, CEO of Lviv IT Cluster. “Even during a war, we are able to organize an exciting tech event, bring startups here, and attract investment.”

To ensure a safe and successful event, IT Arena scaled down this year to 1,000 attendees.  There were also fewer entries to the illustrious Startup Competition.

Nonetheless, the contenders showed the power of technology in difficult times, with their focus on real-world problems. Notably, five of the ten finalists focused on healthtech services.

Some of the solutions on display are already saving lives. DonorUA, which provides an automated system for blood donation, has connected 7,000 people with donors.

It’s not only lives the teams are saving. Another app, Palianytsia, was created to advance the Ukrainian language. The founders believe language is a matter of national security.

The event commenced with the semi-finals of the startup competitions.

Lviv IT Cluster