FUTURE EU INVESTMENT FOR INNOVATION, DIGITISATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Mantas Nocius, Adviser of Project Development and Evaluation Division of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency, told business representatives about the global economic growth trends, the opportunities of the European Union Structural Funds, the perspectives of the new financial period, the work carried out by the Lithuanian Business Support Agency and the Lithuanian economic situation.
‘There are big challenges ahead. Interestingly, while most of the Structural Funds have so far remained in Vilnius, in the new period a lot of attention and the lion’s share of the allocated funds will go to the regions,’ said Nocius.
He said that innovation, the digital and green economy, sustainable energy and the creative industries are the main areas where EU investment will be directed. ‘We expect that the real money of the new period can reach Lithuania at the end of the year, or early next year. All EU countries except Poland and Hungary are in the same situation,’ he said.
Lithuanian businesses are provisionally expected to receive EUR 860 million of investment over the next six years, slightly more than in the previous funding period. According to the priorities envisaged, most of the funds amounting to around EUR 750 million will be spent on research and experimental development (R&D), digitisation, small business start-ups and competitiveness, and competence development projects. The capital region will receive only EUR 172 million, while central Lithuania will receive EUR 576 million. So, the overall investment situation will have to change radically.
‘If we look at the figures of the previous period, there are 80 completed and 87 ongoing projects in Panevėžys County. Statistical tables show the number of projects being developed in Vilnius or Kaunas. In Panevėžys, 56 energy projects are being financed, 3 projects in the tourism sector, 102 projects in the business sector and only 6 projects in the field of R&D are being developed. The people of Panevėžys should work harder in these fields,’ said Nocius.
He said that in terms of the volume of project funding in the regions, projects worth EUR 179 million are being implemented in Panevėžys County, and the projects administered by the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA) usually account for half of this amount. In terms of project development and implementation rates, Panevėžys County is steady in the middle of the country’s statistical table.
The fastest growing companies in Panevėžys County in 2018–2020 were mainly trade companies – 33%, industry – 14%, construction – 13% and agricultural companies – 11%.
‘It is best to set up a business in Panevėžys. The best and the nicest people are here, but it is a pity that we have not yet learned how to multiply them’, complained local entrepreneurs from Panevėžys. More than once, pessimistic rumblings have been read in reports – there is a shortage of workers, and the prospects for business growth are bleak without them.
Panevėžys entrepreneurs are saddened by the lack of workers, although unemployment statistics show the opposite. The unemployment rate in the region has risen from 9.4% in 2018 to 16.1% today, but business representatives believe that such labour market statistics do not reflect the real situation.
Most of the companies on this year’s ‘Gazelė’ list operate in Vilnius County – 41%, 22% in Kaunas and 11% in Klaipėda. A total of 1,737 companies (35%) are in Vilnius City Municipality, while the lowest number – three companies – operate in Birštonas Municipality. In Lithuania, 4,940 companies are currently vying for the ‘Gazelė 2021’ title.
The next ‘Gazelė 2021’ event will take place on 30 September in Šiauliai, on 14 October in Kaunas and on 28 October in Vilnius.