IT companies in Lviv help Ukrainian army and turn to product-oriented business model
After we explored the IT scene in Kharkiv, we decided to go to another Ukrainian IT hub – the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
According to the statistics, Lviv has over 15 thousand IT specialists, which is one of the highest number per capita in Ukraine. And according to the CEO of Lviv IT hub, it's growing.
Stepan Veselovskyi, Lviv IT cluster CEO: "I think that Lviv could be the city number one in IT in Ukraine in a few years because if you're looking into numbers, we're the most fast growing city, if we're talking about the IT in Ukraine."
One of the goals of Lviv IT cluster is to promote the city as a primary destination for IT industry not only in Ukraine, but in Eastern Europe. At the same time, Veselovskiy would like to see Ukrainian IT companies work on more than just outsourcing basis:
Stepan Veselovskyi, Lviv IT cluster CEO: "We see that during the last years we see the increase of product companies in Lviv and I hope that in the nearest future we will get more successful companies in Lviv."
However one such company is already there:
Nazar Bilous, founder and CEO of Smart Atoms: "This is our office and this is our product. We call is la metric time. We tried to reinvent the clock and make it useful for home and business."
Bilous decided to go both ways – he does outsourcing business, as well as product-based. His team decided to create a multi-functional smart clock.
Nazar Bilous, founder and CEO of Smart Atoms: "It can deliver any key information starting from the time, weather, tweets, Facebook messages to more professional matters, such as google analytics, metrics, apps metric, stock quotes and other things."
When Bilous' team came up with an idea of a smart clock, they spent a lot of time on designing and testing it and building prototype. Once this has been done, they raised money on Kickstarter, produced the first batch and sold around 4,000 items around the world.
This IT company in Lviv is using their expertise to help the Ukrainian army. They developed a software for computer-controlled flights of the drones, and are now testing this star-wars-like unmanned vehicle.
The company believes that the vehicles like this can get the wounded from the battlefield without endangering other soldiers or combat medics. And while this vehicle is still being tested, their software for the drones is already in full use:
Oleh Duhin, Eleks Chief Strategy Officer: "We're technology guys and we are engineers, so we try to understand how we can help our army in this hard time. so we started working on software – brains for drones."
These brains for drones are special ones – basically it's a flight programme for the drone, which is pre-programmed and once the drone is launched, it doesn't need to be controlled by any device, hence it's almost impossible to jam it.
Oleh Duhin, Eleks Chief Strategy Officer: "Here we have engineering room, where all our hardware and software engineers program brains for our drones."
Duhin shows us around the company's lab and testing room, where they test-fly the drones. 'Eleks' has also developed software for heavier drones, which can fly longer and carry more sophisticated equipment. And according to the company, some of its software is already being utilized by the Ukrainian army. And while the IT sector-government relations work well one way, Veselovskiy believes it should be a two-way street.
Stepan Veselovskyi, Lviv IT cluster CEO: "The main goals for our Ukrainian government in supporting IT should be two main blocks. The first one is education. The second one is promotion of Ukraine outside of Ukraine."
Bilous echoes this sentiment, expecting the government to do more. He even has a to-do list for the government.
Nazar Bilous, founder and CEO of Smart Atoms: "Give access to U.S. Kickstarter for all Ukrainians, for example. People in the U.S., call center in the United States. I think that the government should create a brand of invention in Ukraine."
While the IT companies wait for the government to start helping the industry, some of them do not wait to help the country defend itself or become a successful IT destination.
This is Volodymyr Solohub and Orest Malkut reporting from Lviv for Ukraine Today.