While Ukrainian startups demonstrate their resilience, VCs keep investing in CEE

“Despite the ongoing conflict in the region, international VCs are more interested than ever in CEE startups,” notes Sifted, an online publication covering the European startup scene.

The war has not stopped the surge of investment that the region has seen for the past two years. On the contrary: “while experts have predicted that the economic slowdown in western Europe will soon reach the region, the war could have already stopped the growth — but so far it hasn’t.”

“The value of overall investment in startups from CEE was higher in the first half of this year than in the period in 2021, growing from $1.4 billion to $3.2 billion,” writes Sifted, citing Dealroom data.

“The interest of non-domestic investors in the region was also the highest in history: US VCs invested $1.1 billion (up from $319 million last year in the same period), while European VCs from outside of the region have invested another $1.1 billion (compared with $508 million in 2021).”

Resistance and resilience combined

As for Ukraine specifically, Sifted sees that “VCs are keeping an eye on the country regardless of the conflict,” even though this interest is difficult to quantify due to a lack of data. 

Sifted nevertheless notes that “many of the country’s startups continue to grow” while Ukraine is struggling to resist the Russian invasion following Feb. 24.

Cem Sertoglu, a partner at the Earlybird’s Digital East Fund, was struck in the following months by the way Ukrainian entrepreneurs on the ground continued operating in extreme conditions.

“The resilience of the Ukrainian tech industry was mind-blowing,” Sifted quoted him as saying.

Contrary to his expectations, Earlybird’s two portfolio companies with teams in Ukraine “continued to deliver without much disruption,” Sertoglu said.

Meanwhile, two US startups founded or co-founded by Ukrainians, airSlate and Unstoppable Domain, became new unicorns in the past few months.