The city of Cahul will become the first “StartUp City” in the southern region of the Republic of Moldova. According to a grant agreement signed between the Association of Information and Communication Technology Companies of Moldova (ATIC) and Sweden on September 15 several investments will be made in the region to strengthen the potential of the digital economy. This will increase local employment in the field of ICT, develop businesses based on innovations, and increase the competitiveness and attractiveness of the region.
The project “EU4Moldova: StartUp City Cahul” will be implemented with the financial assistance of the European Union and aligns with the priorities of the Eastern Partnership and addresses the sustainable socio-economic development of Cahul and neighboring localities, completing the regional coverage of the cooperation assistance provided to the Republic of Moldova by the European Union.
Anna Lyberg, Ambassador of Sweden to the Republic of Moldova: “Sweden actively supports the development of the ICT sector in Moldova. Through this initiative, together with the Delegation of the European Union, we continue our previous experiences and support the country’s digital transformation and innovation. With StartUp City Cahul we will support regional development, especially in the Cahul region, through innovation and entrepreneurship. We will strengthen employment opportunities and provide opportunities for young people, including women and girls, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) so that they can choose a career in IT in the future.”
Ana Chirița, ATIC Strategic Projects Director: “The IT sector reached figures beyond expectations in 2019, and this leads to the idea of directing efforts to expand the ICT sector at the national level. We want to contribute and transform the city of Cahul into a favorable region for investment, innovation and entrepreneurship. We are going to build a center of excellence in IT, which will become a catalyst for the development of the city and adjacent localities. We will develop several programs dedicated to any age – pupils, students, teachers, young professionals, etc. – in order to expand development opportunities in the region and create the premises for connecting the talent and potential of human capital with the possibilities offered by national and local IT companies.”
“EU4Moldova: StartUp City Cahul”- contributing to regional development through innovation
From now and until 2024 several investments will be implemented that will contribute to the development of the Cahul region. Over the next four years, innovation partnerships between the private sector, the public sector, and educational institutions will be encouraged; technology will be promoted as a solution to community problems and the study of STEM disciplines so that IT becomes more attractive for everyone regardless of age or gender; and the capacities of innovative startups in various sectors and investment readiness will be created and strengthened.
The EU4Innovation Center – a regional center of excellence in IT, is to be created in Cahul. With an area of 1500 m2, the center will develop several local services and about 137 programs and activities, in order to encourage the use of technology.
“StartUp City Cahul” will also support STEM education in close synergy with other existing and already developed initiatives by ATIC and Tekwill. This will be done by adapting and implementing educational programs for training and expanding skills, which meet the needs of the private sector.
- 11,500 students from Cahul and over 50,000 students from 200 schools across the country will study the subjects of the future,
- 500 teachers will improve their digital skills in training programs,
- the study programs for at least 6 courses will be updated by the decision of the Ministry of Education, Research and Culture, in order to increase the attractiveness of studying STEM subjects.
Also, about 300 students from universities and colleges will attend training courses in IT and related fields.
Supporting the development of entrepreneurship is also among the project’s priorities. Thus, several actions will be taken to facilitate the creation of local startups, strengthen their development capacity, and prepare for investment. Over the next 4 years, it is expected that at least:
- 20 local startups will benefit from assistance and support,
- 15 non-IT initiatives will be supported,
- 2,600 people will benefit from entrepreneurship education programs,
- 24 events will be organized for entrepreneurs.
The project will be implemented by the National Association of ICT Companies (ATIC), with financial assistance from the European Union (EU), provided through Sweden.
In June 2020, Sweden concluded a contribution agreement with the European Delegation for the implementation of the “EU4Moldova: StartUp City Cahul” project. The EUR 6.8 million project from the EU Delegated Funds for ICT Development is part of the single EU support framework for Moldova 2017–2020, section 1: “Economic development and opportunities, including sustainable and inclusive growth”.
Sweden’s participation in this project strengthens its own initiatives to encourage women and girls to become actively involved in ICT. The Association of Information and Communication Technology Companies of Moldova (ATIC) promotes the development of the ICT sector in partnership with private sector companies, universities, government institutions and international organizations and facilitates the exchange of good practices between members. ATIC’s mission is to promote a more favorable ICT business climate. Currently, the associated companies within ATIC represent over 60% of the market value of the ICT sector in Moldova.
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