Posted: 4 years ago

Opportunities for Innovative Startups

Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency has named 20 winners as part of its grants program.

Mariam Lashkhi, Deputy Head of the Innovation and Technology Agency, told the TV program Business Partner that it is of crucial importance to build an economy based on knowledge, and innovations to boost our economic development. This objective could not be achieved through promoting only traditional startups and traditional companies. 

A creative and innovative mind is very important, as well as entrepreneurial skills. These creative and innovative ideas should be implemented in reality. This sector  grows much faster compared to traditional sectors, Mariam Lashkhi pointed out.

“I would like to also note that similar startups represent large risks. The private sector does not put much money in similar companies. It is important that at the initial stage, when risks are very high, the government provides appropriate guarantees. To this end, the Innovation and Technology Agency of Georgia has initiated this program with the support of the World Bank, and this program is to expand access to financial resources for similar companies”Lashkhi noted. 

The interested organizations intensified efforts, she noted. For example, previously, about 150 applications were submitted, while this year, more than 190 applications were submitted in the Georgian and English languages. The licensing office has engaged in the process. Three startups will pass the acceleration phase at Silicon Valley in the USA, she said. 

Besides the 100,000 GEL grant, the Innovation and Technology Agency enables applicants to obtain a larger grant of 650,000 GEL to further develop and promote co-funding from the private sector. In this case, the 650,000 Gel grant implies 50% co-funding. The program was announced in May 2019, and one winner has already been named. The private sector has already joined the process, and it participates in intellectual projects, Lashkhi said. 

Domestic companies just invest more money in research and development projects. As a result, incomes will at least triple, Lashkhi said. 

As for collaboration with domestic companies to make sure they aid with venture capital, Lashkhi noted that collaboration with domestic companies should proceed in two directions: 1) domestic companies should become innovative enterprises and 2) they should make more investments in research and development projects to at least triple incomes. 

“Two aspects of this remain to be determined: current entrepreneurs should become more innovative and more investment should be placed in research and development projects, and these efforts will at least triple incomes, according to the World Bank estimates. For example, as a result of a combination of research and development, hazelnut growers have realized that they could receive additional revenues from shells. Sometimes, it turns out that the idea of a research-development process brings more income than other businesses. It is very important that the existing companies put more investment in the research and development process, introduce more technologies and automation to reduce expenses and increase revenues”, Mariam Lashkhi said.