Innovations in Ukraine: Realities, Challenges and Prospects

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Human holding a drone

What it takes to develop the innovative potential and start-ups in Ukraine? How can high technology change the economy and our lives in general, for example, in 10 years? Destinations addressed these questions to experts.

Viktoriya Tigipko

The founder of TA Ventures, president of the Odesa International Film Festival, head of the supervisory board of the Ukrainian Film Academy.

Viktoriya Tigipko The founder of TA Ventures, president of the Odesa International Film FestivalInnovations certainly play a huge role in economy today. Innovations are driven by young, active and bold startups. They are flexible, can easily change their strategy or product. What has been slowing them down in Ukraine? First of all, tax and regulatory policies that need to be simplified. For the innovative potential to develop, it is necessary to make sure that people who want to do business can do so. If Ukrainian startups meet no obstacles here, if the venture business develops, there can be prospects for growth, and Ukraine’s potential is very high. Our fund is ready to support innovations and invest even at the first stage when risks are very high.

The main things for a startup are the team, especially during an early stage, product and market. A good idea is not enough. It is important to be able to implement it, that is to build a successful and profitable business. For this, the team should be able to create a product that would solve a serious and very sensitive problem on a big and fast-growing market. Some of the successful Ukrainian startups are GitLab, which became the first Ukrainian unicorn, Petcube, Readdle, Grammarly, PDFfiller and Jooble.

What are the most promising areas for innovative development? Our software developers have a very strong potential, they are known all over the world. Almost every company that comes to us for investment usually has at least one software engineer from Ukraine. We can talk about AgTech: our agriculture uses the latest technology: drones to monitor crops, innovative sensors for soil. The same is true for alternative energy: solar and renewable. FinTech and everything related to blockchain are interesting. In digital banking, there is our Monobank, for example. And there is also digital health: personal healthcare, online medicine, telemedicine.

The pace of innovative development is so fast that it is simply impossible to make any long-term predictions. New computer platforms are emerging, blockchain, AI, robotech and digital medicine are developing. And as for the risks, a popular subject for discussion is AI getting out of control and thus putting the humankind at risk. It may seem fantastic now but it should better be prevented.

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Yuliya Poroshenko

The founder of the Agrohub innovation platform, co-founder of Radar Tech.

Yuliya Poroshenko The founder of the Agrohub innovation platformThe world is changing too fast to predict what it will beсome. I suppose that in 10 years' time urbanites will grow vegetables, berries and greens right in their apartments, using vertical farms. And this will be a game for them, not a second job. The entire system – irrigation, fertilization and climate control – will be automated. There will be no need to transport these products from other areas, store them in stores. Besides, this will be organic food. The crops that require large swaths of land, such as grains and oil bearing crops, will be grown in countries abundant in farmland and exported around the world. Ukraine is one of such countries. Therefore, operational innovations are the most promising for Ukrainian agribusiness, allowing it to produce more by spending less.

In February, we launched the Innovative Priorities project. It helps agricultural producers understand what new technologies they use and how efficiently they do it, and to identify points of growth. We have analyzed any companies – IMC, HarvEast Holding, Agro Region, Agroprosperis, Mriya, Agricom, MHP and separately agricultural clients of Raiffeisen Bank Aval with a land bank from 5,000 to 70,000 hectares – and found similar trends. Often it is human rather than financial capital that is making the bottleneck. The professionalism of the staff determines whether innovative tools are to be effective. To apply technology, employees must be involved in the process, trained and motivated. It is important to fine-tune the processes. Our research showed a qualitative difference between companies which have implemented BPMN and those who have not done so yet. The description of business processes with an indication of risk and control is the basis that ensures systematic work.

Land bank audit and digital field management systems are innovations that will provide quick returns to Ukrainian farmers. These are technologies for collecting information from sensors and visual data from satellites and drones, and combining them with performance and weather reports. The collected database is analyzed by artificial intelligence, which develops forecasts and tips to help agronomists make decisions in the future.

Automating the processes of growing, harvesting and storing crops is another direction in innovative development. Laborious routine tasks will be assigned to robots.

Our project Agrohub Innovative Solutions has been collecting a database of such solutions to allow Ukrainian agrarians to find the ones that could answer their needs. The future of agriculture is in analytics, digital and the use of technologies.

Photos provided by Viktoriya Tigipko, Alexandr Chekmenev, unsplash.com.

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