A survey for foreign investors in Kaunas: the planned development attests to the favorability of the business environment
A public enterprise Kaunas IN, which performs the function of improving the investment environment in Kaunas and does international marketing for the city, concludes the year with a survey that provides useful insights for further activities and goals. Foreign companies operating in Kaunas were asked to evaluate the city’s favorable aspects for the development of different types of businesses, and its attractiveness for establishing and expanding business.
“This is the first, but we are convinced that certainly not the last, targeted survey, during which we asked the foreign investors to assess the business environment in Kaunas according to several criteria. The main goal is to assess our own lines of action when working with investors and businesses in Kaunas, to check whether we agree on the challenges that business faces and on the most relevant points that we could cooperate on. We believe that in the future such a survey could become annual and serve as a barometer of the investment environment in Kaunas, indicating the current and future changes. Therefore, we are very grateful to the respondents who dedicated their time to answer the questions,” Andrius Veršinskas, Head of the Business Department of Kaunas IN, says, adding that the survey perfectly complements existing activities, such as IBCK – Kaunas International Business Community meetings.
The organizers estimate that in total about one-eighth of foreign companies operating in Kaunas participated in the survey. The majority – about half of the respondents – are service centers and IT companies. The answers to the survey questions were also provided by the representatives of the automotive and electronic components industry, heavy industry, MROs, and other sectors. The survey covered a wide range of Kaunas business representatives, both by sector and duration of activity in the city. Some companies have already managed to become the real old-timers of Kaunas (they have been working here for almost three decades, since 1992) yet others settled down only a few years ago.
Andrius Veršinskas, Head of the Business Department of Kaunas IN.
“The aim of the survey was to touch upon a wide variety of businesses operating in Kaunas. It was interesting to hear from both foreign companies that have been operating in Kaunas for years and those that have started their work here recently. Sure, the ratio of the latter is much higher, it is influenced not only by foreign investors actively moving to Kaunas in recent years but also by the closer contact our organization maintains with the newcomers,” A. Veršinskas says.
A significant proportion of answers confirmed what was already know, and it only confirms that we are moving in the right direction. However, this survey also revealed other, pleasantly surprising moments. For example, as many as 83 percent of respondents indicated that they are planning expansion in Kaunas in the next 5 years. According to the representatives of Kaunas IN, this testifies to the satisfaction of investors who have come to Kaunas, and the further development plans better than anything else demonstrate how favorable the investment environment is.
The study also confirmed the tendency that one of the biggest and growing challenges that Kaunas’ investment attractiveness faces is the supply of necessary employees. Respondents in all sectors indicated that “highly qualified professionals” and “labor supply” are crucial criteria for the success of their business. According to the survey, Kaunas companies are quite satisfied with the qualifications of specialists in the market but see a shortage of labor supply.
In order for the required message to reach the target audience – students, parents, teachers – in December 2020 Kaunas IN launched a special tool – an information platform Career in Kaunas. It aims to better acquaint young people, future talents, with the most promising and traditional business sectors operating in the city; to present businesses operating in different sectors, to systematically provide information on study programs in Kaunas universities, colleges, and private training schools that prepare young talents for work in these specific sectors.
Attracting specialists is one of the most relevant topics and activities, to which the city can successfully contribute, working together with the businesses located here. Mainly because when we started to work more actively with schools on the topic of career guidance, we saw a significant asymmetry between the logic and entrenched stereotypes that people follow when choosing their career and the reality we have in Kaunas today. And the reality, generally speaking, is so, that business in the city is increasingly short of engineers and IT professionals. The most promising sectors in Kaunas at present are the engineering industry, biosciences, business service centers, and information technologies,” A. Veršinskas explains.
A survey of investors also showed that business still sees untapped potential in cooperation with higher education institutions in the city. Although many of them mention having some sort of partnership with universities and colleges, they feel that there is a lack of closer, long-term, or continuous cooperation. No less important is another aspect: the more active involvement of business in changing and strengthening study programs that would respond to the needs of the market and allow the business to have young specialists with the necessary and relevant knowledge and skills.
It is gratifying that, in summary, the results of the survey appear to be really optimistic. It is clear that despite the challenges brought to society and business by 2020, foreign investors operating in Kaunas continue to plan development, see the unused opportunities and potential hidden in the city.