One year ago, one of the largest coworking spaces with an integrated co-living space opened its doors in Klaipėda. This project is a part of the Baltic Tech Park technology valley that is being developed. At the end of January, as Light House celebrated its first birthday, the developers announced the start of the second phase of the project.
LIGHT HOUSE LAB – technological creativity workshop
The vision for Phase II is no less ambitious: an infrastructure will be developed that meets the global standards and good practices, in order to create digital innovations and to digitise the industry. The Light House Lab is expected to become a hub that will attract the companies in the region engaged in prototyping or experimental production. The establishment of such a hub is one of the key goals in Klaipėda City’s “Blue Breakthrough Strategy 2030”. The idea of moving forward is planned to be implemented by the end of 2021.
Šarūnas Butkus, founder and creator of Light House, noted that although the coworking space opened its doors just a year ago, it is facing a rising demand from Klaipėda-based companies and start-ups not only for more computerised workplaces, but also for pilot production and prototyping facilities equipped with the necessary equipment and technologies: “I am glad to see that companies in the Klaipėda region are supporting this initiative and that our hometown might become the birthplace of something that drives technological progress in the biggest cities around the world. Such complex spaces enable companies to focus on the development of new products or services and allow ‘hardware’ start-ups to realise their creative potential and create innovations based on digital technologies.”
When it comes to its unique features, Šarūnas Butkus believes that Light House Lab matches Newlab’s technical creativity workshop in New York. He is happy that Newlab’s executives have keenly shared their expertise and good practices with this Lithuanian counterpart.
The Baltic Maritime Digital Innovation Hub, established by Baltic Tech Park with members that include Klaipėdos Nafta, Klaipėda City Municipality, Klaipėda University, Klaipėdos Energija, as well as other companies and public sector institutions, will also take part in the development of Light House Lab.
Growth of Klaipėda’s start-up community
Throughout 2019, the developers of the lab managed to gather an innovative and active community of start-ups, advanced businesses and members of academia. The spaces in Light House currently house over 200 professionals and companies including Interaco, Iscope, Ahcode start-ups and experienced IT companies like Devbridge. They will be joined in February by the IT Training Academy and Software Development Academy.
The concept of a coworking space is closely tied to the development of innovations. Therefore one of the goals of the project is to encourage cooperation between businesses, science and government institutions by giving them the space to develop innovative projects and solutions. To achieve this goal, Start-up Lithuania and its partners organised a 48-hour creative workshop at Light House called Hacker Games: Open Data. Over 40 professionals in various fields attended the event. They created 7 innovative products for the city of Klaipėda using the public data sets opened by the Centre of Registers, Sodra, Public Procurement Office, Ignitis and other institutions in the Klaipėda Region.
According to Daina Kleponė, General Director of Versli Lietuva, the growth of the start-up community has been very noticeable in Klaipėda for quite some time: “We were very happy to have the opportunity to organise a hackathon in the Light House space and encourage the local start-up community to develop innovative products that will benefit businesses, as well as the entire port city community. We can see that the organisations and private companies operating in Klaipėda, as well as the city government, have clearly identified the added-value created by start-ups and are refining the means to increase the current potential for innovation in the city. This rapidly developing start-up infrastructure and an abundance of events will allow this city to become a serious competitor for Kaunas and Vilnius.”
In December last year, a real breakthrough occurred in the start-up ecosystem of Klaipėda. For the first time in Western Lithuania, a pre-accelerator programme – Primer Trainings – took place in the Light House coworking space. The programme allowed as many as 21 technology developers to refine their business plans and present their ideas to potential investors.
The Light House coworking space, which has no comparable operation in Lithuania, is also contributing to an increase of networking in the Baltic Region. It is planned that in the next 10 years, similar spaces will be established throughout the entire region. These spaces will work together to promote the development of a sustainable and innovative community.