Ready for business: What will the future of tech in Ukraine be?

28 Jul 2022

Neill Dunwoody, Tech Link Ukraine; Ann O'Dea, Silicon Republic; Konstantin Vasyuk, IT Ukraine Association; Yuliya Garyacha, adviser to Ukraine government; and Yura Kovalchuk, The Startup Studio. Image: Conor McCabe

Ukraine is home to hundreds of thousands of tech professionals who will no doubt prove useful as the country works to rebuild itself after the war.

There is not a lot that anybody in Ireland can do about the devastating war in Ukraine, or is there?

According to Konstantin Vasyuk, executive director of the IT Ukraine Association, we can all do something fairly simple. And that is to support Ukrainian businesses.

‘The war will end and life will continue’

Dialling into Future Human 2022 from Ukraine, Vasyuk said that the country’s future after the war depends on its thriving tech and IT sector and the support it receives from other countries.

“The war will end and life will continue,” he said. He added that Ukrainians feel Ireland’s support already and they are grateful.

He emphasised that despite the toll the war continues to take on the Ukrainian people, their livelihoods, homes and infrastructure, the country is still “ready for business”.

Vasyuk was one of several panellists who joined Silicon Republic’s Ann O’Dea for a discussion about how tech – and Irish people in tech – can help Ukraine rebuild.

Yuliya Garyacha, digital adviser to the Ukrainian government, agreed with Vasyuk. She joined the discussion in person as she and her daughter had both left their home earlier this year to seek sanctuary in Cork.

Garyacha explained to the audience some of Ukraine’s recent efforts to join the EU single market. The move to become more integrated with the EU is something she and her colleagues have been working on for some time.

Speaking alongside Garyacha was Trinity College Dublin student Yura Kovalchuk. He praised his university’s response to the war and the “great support” it had provided to him and other students. The management student emigrated from Ukraine to Ireland when he was a child.

Kovalchuk came together with other students on a project called Action For Ukraine, raising money and working with organisations like the Irish Red Cross.

Kovalchuk, who is also co-founder of The Start-up Studio, said that he is keen to run events to help integrate recent arrivals from Ukraine.

As part of his outreach efforts, Kovalchuk was invited by fellow panellist Neill Dunwoody to work with the team at Tech Link Ukraine. Dunwoody has been working in recent months alongside Vasyuk and others from the IT Ukraine Association to help displaced Ukrainians find work.

Dunwoody and a group of entrepreneurs set up Tech Link Ukraine and Employ Ukraine, which act “as sign-posting sites” for people who want to hire impacted Ukrainians or those fleeing the country.

Before the panellists took to the stage, the audience heard a piano performance from Yaroslav Bilous.

Bilous is a student who left Ukraine earlier this year with his family for Greystones. He talked to O’Dea about his experiences and his hopes to return to his native country.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic