The Mayor of Vilnius Promotes Investment And Start-Ups on His Recent Trip to London
Remigijus Šimašius, the Mayor of Vilnius, has recently returned from an official mayoral visit to London, during which he attended a discussion at the mayor Innovations Studio together with the mayors of Tel Aviv, Austin, Warsaw, Bristol and other cities. The mayor had the opportunity to meet up with representatives of the world’s largest startup accelerators – MassChallenge, Level39, and Cognicity, along with Lithuanian organisations in the United Kingdom, and talk at length about the many benefits that Vilnius has to offer as a centre for investment.
‘It was wonderful at the Mayoral forum to have Vilnius mentioned in the same breath as Tel Aviv as an example of an innovative, open data city that is competitive in terms of investment attraction, and home to a young, dynamic population. This means that we are heading in the right direction. In Vilnius we have a number of highly qualified specialists in the areas of high technologies, biotechnologies, research and innovation that are currently creating products which are drawing the interest of investors throughout the world. With our potential partners we explored the possibilities of establishing a business exchange between Vilnius and London. I have no doubt that the direct relations we established in London will be beneficial to the city’, Remigijus Šimašius explained.
During the mayoral discussion, the former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg and the current mayor of London Boris Johnson touched on the way that modern cities can incentivize both investors and citizens to become invested in the development of their city. Such solutions offered ranged from making the city more cosmopolitan to generating value through the creation of new products and services that can be tested in the global marketplace. It was stressed that to make a city truly successful, it must be attractive to families and young people working in technology sectors. This makes such considerations as space, clean air, affordable housing, and easy access to nature of major importance – all of which are in abundance in Vilnius.
‘The major question is this – what do the creators of the future need? An affordable and dynamic city centre is a must; however, the big disadvantage of most major cities is that living in central areas is rather costly, and this is not really the case in Vilnius,’ stressed the Mayor.
The mayor was pleased to note that Vilnius is fast becoming the Baltic States leader for financial services infrastructure and is leading in terms of the development of service centres. In his opinion, Vilnius is an excellent platform for the promotion of London start-ups, as well as the testing of new products or services. It is not only a ‘sand box’ for the testing the products created by start-ups, however; it is also the perfect location for the expansion of products into an international marketplace.
The discussion on open data cities specifically noted how important it is to teach children programming, technologies and foreign languages from an early age – so that they are prepared for life in a modern, digitalised and cosmopolitan city. Again, this is something that the Mayor is keenly aware of.
Following his visit to London, Šimašius left for Tel Aviv where he attended the discussions of the Global Lithuanian Economic Forum, and met business representatives and venture capital funds to continue his discussions on attracting investment.
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