In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 20 October as World Statistics Day. Tomas Vaičiulis, Head of Operational Processes and Programmes Division of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA), welcomed the participants of the ReThink Business 2021 conference organised by the Verslo Žinios team. He provided interesting statistics about the benefits of EU investments in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA), the administrator of EU-funded projects, has been operating for 18 years. For the 2014–2020 period, the agency administered EU Structural Funds in the areas of science and innovation, energy and business development, entrepreneurship and tourism promotion.

‘We aim to be a reliable and professional partner. We strive to identify and fund the best ideas, with a particular focus on Lithuanian regions. We are guided by the common values of the EU support system. We aim to ensure that every euro invested creates maximum value for the innovation, competitiveness and growth of Lithuanian business,’ said Vaičiulis.

During the 2014–2020 period, the LBSA evaluated around 7,900 funding applications submitted by 4,200 unique companies. Some 3,400 contracts were signed. The total volume of funded projects is around EUR 2.6 billion, including EUR 1.3 billion of EU investment. ‘The last calls for the ‘Creative Vouchers Covid-19’ (Kūrybiniai čekiai Covid-19) and ‘E-commerce Model’ (E-komercijos modelis) instruments were particularly popular. A total of 2,535 applications were received from 1,950 businesses. Currently applications for the SmartInvest LT+ measure are still being accepted, so the total number of projects will increase significantly,’ he added.

Vaičiulis continued: ‘Looking at the project indicators by counties, we can see that 1,451 projects have been funded in Vilnius County, 899 projects in Kaunas County, 217 projects in Šiauliai County and 216 projects in Klaipėda County. The most modest number of projects, 44, is in Tauragė County. A further breakdown shows the areas where progress is being achieved. The greatest disparity is seen in the areas of R&D and business finance. Vilnius and Kaunas Counties have the highest number of such projects. Energy projects are more evenly distributed across the counties.
‘In terms of the financial value of the projects implemented, the gap in Vilnius County is widening. The volume of projects under implementation here is EUR 1.24 billion. Kaunas County has half as much – EUR 609 million. The shares of other counties are even smaller: EUR 182 million in Šiauliai County, EUR 180 million in Panevėžys County and EUR 147 million in Klaipėda County.

‘Although we are talking about the 2014–2020 financial period and we are already approaching 2022, unfortunately the actual payments are not that impressive. In national terms, around 54% of the planned funding has been disbursed. EUR 371 million (54%) was paid in Vilnius County, EUR 155 million in Kaunas County and EUR 49 million (59%) in Panevėžys County. I would single out Tauragė County, where 76% of the total foreseen funding was paid. However, in monetary terms it is only EUR 10.5 million,’ said Vaičiulis. In the new financial period, Lithuania is divided into the capital and the mid-west regions for the distribution of EU support. The latter region has a significantly higher amount of support than the capital region.

I would invite those who are thinking about this to look for ideas first, not money. It should not be forgotten that EU investment is an attractive but specific source of funding, with its own peculiarities and limitations.’

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